Speed Up Your Web Site With Google’s mod_pagespeed for Apache

Today Google released mod_pagespeed, an Apache module that automates many of Google’s Page Speed optimization recommendations. The mod currently offers 18 configurable filters. You’ll probably need root access to install this on your server, but Google is working with GoDaddy to bring this to shared hosting customers. Hopefully, other hosts will follow. Google is also working with CDN provider Contendo to bring mod_pagespeed to its service. If you use WordPress and want to implement some of these fixes without root access, you can try the W3 Total Cache plugin (which is still in pre-1.0 release).

The problem with Page Speed is that not all of the recommendations are easy to implement. A few that are a particularly painful that mod_pagespeed should automate, according to Google, are:

  • Making changes to the pages built by the Content Management Systems (CMS) with no need to make changes to the CMS itself,
  • Recompressing an image when its HTML context changes to serve only the bytes required (typically tedious to optimize manually), and
  • Extending the cache lifetime of the logo and images of your website to a year, while still allowing you to update these at any time.

The current 18 filters fall into three categories. Each filter has risks associated with it, which can be found in the documentation. The categories and filters are:

Optimize Caching

  • Extend Cache
  • Outline CSS
  • Outline JavaScript

Minimize Round Trip Times

  • Combine CSS
  • Inline CSS
  • Inline JavaScript

Minimize Payload Size

  • Collapse Whitespace
  • Combine Heads
  • Elide Attributes
  • Minify Javascript
  • Optimize Images
  • Remove Comments
  • Remove Quotes
  • Rewrite CSS
  • Move CSS to HEAD
  • Optimize Images
  • Add Head
  • Add Instrumentation

Google is apparently planning on adding more filters under the category “minimize request overhead,” but none are available yet.

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