Is Cloudflare APO Effective on AMP Pages ?

In an earlier case-study we have seen the benefits of Cloudflare APO on reducing TTFB and FCP times. The Core Web Vitals were also green, when there were no video or display ads. The initial page request is served more quickly to the client, when using the APO feature.

For a free Cloudflare plan, it costs only $5/month. If you are on a slow host, this improves the page load time and optimizes the font resources too. Cloudlare APO is not a magic wand to improve the speed of the site.

Also Read – Website Speed Test with and without PageSpeed Ninja and Cloudflare APO

You still need to have a fast server, cache other resources like CSS, JSS, usage of minification, page optimization plugins are also important. The quicker the page response, visitors are more likely to stay on the web site. This will improve the bounce rate and the amount of time spent on the page.

Google has introduced AMP pages for fast mobile responsive pages. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is the new technology that improves the loading of mobile pages.

Also Read – PageSpeed Ninja vs SG Optimizer – Which is the Best WordPress Cache Plugin

In addition they have the extra benefit of ranking high in Google search results. Though these are particularly useful for news sites and results appear in mobile carousel results at the top, AMP pages rank well in search engine results.

In order to see the benefits of combination of both these technologies, we have done a case-study to see the effect of Cloudflare APO feature on AMP pages.

Introduction

The test site had around 20 plugins. To serve AMP, a plugin was used. PageSpeed Ninja plugin was used for minification, gzip compression, optimize images and page optimization. Cloudflare free plan was also enabled. APO feature was being used for the past 2 months.

Related Post :   Does Cloudflare Automatic Platform Optimization Improve Site Speed ?

Two important metrics of TTFB and FCP were used in the study. Since Cloudflare APO is effective in reducing these two parameters, their effect on AMP pages was studied for the same. Other Core Web Vitals were also reported.

To test these performance metrics, two speed testing tools were used. GTMetrix and WebPageTest are load speed test results which give a waterfall view of the page load. They also report the page metrics like LCP, FCP, TTFB, CLS, TBT and many others.

Since GTMetrix uses the Lighthouse tool, their results are more close to Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. Since Cloudflare APO benefits can be seen when the server location is farther from the origin, the same page was tested from different server locations.

WebPageTest reports the TTFB times in their report. They also have a waterfall view where we can see the time taken for the loaded resources. AMP pages are served from Google CDN cache. This also reduces the load time of the page.

Test Results – Without Cloudflare APO

The following page was tested from different server locations around the world.

https://www.wpreviewtips.com/amp-for-wp-pro-review/amp/

GTMetrix Test Report

TTFB and FCP Values

 Test Server LocationFCP TTFBInitial Page size
1San Antonio, TX, USA1.1s109.4ms26KB
2Hong Kong, China0.6s132.9ms25.8KB
3London, UK1.1s65.3ms26KB
4Mumbai, India0.7s256.9ms26KB
5Sydney, Australia373ms83.8ms25.9KB
6Sao Paulo, Brazil348ms142.6ms26KB
7Vancouver, Canada0.6s365.4ms25.8KB

Core Web Vitals Test

URL FCPSpeed IndexTime to InteractiveTotal Blocking time Page LoadNo. of Images
https://www.wpreviewtips.com/wp-real-estate-pro-plugin-review/374ms491ms455ms31ms0.9s12
https://www.wpreviewtips.com/wp-real-estate-pro-plugin-review/amp/0.9ms1.4s0.9ms0ms2.6s
https://www.wpreviewtips.com/siteground-hosting-review-2019/0.7s0.7s0.7s15ms1.0s16
https://www.wpreviewtips.com/siteground-hosting-review-2019/amp/0.5s0.8s0.5s0ms2.2s
https://www.wpreviewtips.com/how-to-show-ads-on-amp-pages/0.5s0.6s0.7s1ms1.0s15
https://www.wpreviewtips.com/how-to-show-ads-on-amp-pages/amp/420ms0.9s420ms0ms2.0s

Analysis

Without using the Cloudflare APO feature, the TTFB times were very high. Though AMP pages were being used, the GTMetrix test result shows that TTFB is high as 8.16s in some cases. This is very high compared to the TTFB values using Cloudflare APO. Though there were not much of JS and CSS used on the site, both these core metrics were high between 2.5s to 5.5s.

Related Post :   Website Speed Test with and without PageSpeed Ninja and Cloudflare APO

This could be attributed mainly due to the AMP for WP plugin being used for displaying the AMP pages. The FCP values were also high in seconds. As can be seen in the below table, the TTFB and FCP values were low in milli-seconds when using the Cloudflare APO.

Test Results – Cloudflare APO Enabled

GTMetrix Test Report

TTFB and FCP Values

Opportunity Estimated Savings
Serve images in next-gen formats 3.12 s
Properly size images 2.68 s
Preload key requests 1.88 s
Reduce initial server response time 0.61 s
Remove unused JavaScript 0.48 s

Core Web Vitals Test

URL LCPTBTCLS
https://www.wpreviewtips.com/best-wordpress-plugins-for-blogs-for-effective-blogging/2.0s1ms0.12
https://www.wpreviewtips.com/best-wordpress-plugins-for-blogs-for-effective-blogging/amp/2.9s0ms0.13
https://www.wpreviewtips.com/wordpress-security-best-practices/2.3s80ms0.02
https://www.wpreviewtips.com/wordpress-security-best-practices/amp/2.3s20ms0.23
https://www.wpreviewtips.com/top-10-chrome-extensions-block-ads/2.2s18ms
https://www.wpreviewtips.com/top-10-chrome-extensions-block-ads/amp/2.1s0ms0.1

Analysis

The TTFB values reported well within good range. As per Google’s standards, 200ms of TTFB is a good score. Normal sites report a value of 300 to 600ms for the same. Site having more than 1s of TTFB is not considered good.

In the above test from different server locations, we can see that all the TTFB values were between 100 to 250ms. This is very fast compared to not using the Cloudflare APO. This result could be attributed because of AMP pages, page optimization and also using the automatic platform optimization.

The lowest TTFB was from London and the highest from India. FCP values were also good between 200 to 500ms, except for the Sydney server. The Core Web Vitals were also showing good scores for LCP, TBT. But the CLS were somewhat higher. A good CLS score is less than 0.25 according to Search Console metrics. But using AMP pages shows 0.43 which is a little higher.

Related Post :   Can Cloudflare Automatic Platform Optimization (APO) Improve TTFB and FCP

This can be because of movable elements like font files. Though there were no ads, CLS value was high.

WebPageTest Report

TTFB and FCP Values

URL FCPSpeed IndexTime to InteractiveTotal Blocking time Page LoadNo. of Images
https://www.wpreviewtips.com/best-wordpress-plugins-for-blogs-for-effective-blogging/2.0s2.2s2.4s1ms3.6s12
https://www.wpreviewtips.com/best-wordpress-plugins-for-blogs-for-effective-blogging/amp/2.1s2.6s2.1s0ms3.5s
https://www.wpreviewtips.com/wordpress-security-best-practices/2.0s2.4s2.6s80ms3.7s10
https://www.wpreviewtips.com/wordpress-security-best-practices/amp/2.0s2.2s2.5s20ms3.2s
https://www.wpreviewtips.com/top-10-chrome-extensions-block-ads/2.2s2.3s2.3s18ms3.3s10
https://www.wpreviewtips.com/top-10-chrome-extensions-block-ads/amp/2.1s2.1s2.1s0ms3.9s

Core Web Vitals Test

URLGTMetrix GradePerformanceStructure
https://www.wpreviewtips.com/best-wordpress-plugins-for-blogs-for-effective-blogging/C0.710.97
https://www.wpreviewtips.com/best-wordpress-plugins-for-blogs-for-effective-blogging/amp/C0.621
https://www.wpreviewtips.com/wordpress-security-best-practices/C0.670.98
https://www.wpreviewtips.com/wordpress-security-best-practices/amp/C0.671
https://www.wpreviewtips.com/top-10-chrome-extensions-block-ads/C0.690.97
https://www.wpreviewtips.com/top-10-chrome-extensions-block-ads/amp/C0.71

Analysis

As above, the AMP page was tested from 7 different server locations around that world. This test clearly reports the TTFB times, unlike the GTMetrix test. Though there is some ambiguity in the before test, WebPageTest reports the initial page load time as it is.

The TTFB values reported for the AMP pages were between 0.5s to 1.5s. Except the USA server which was close to the origin, all the other values were higher. As mentioned earlier, this test uses a different set of test tools to report the TTFB and Web Vitals score.

So the benefit of Cloudflare APO on AMP pages could not be seen in this test.

The FCP values were also between 1.5s to 3.5s. This is also little high compared to the earlier test of GTMetrix. Since AMP technology is supposed to reduce these values, there was not much benefit as seen in the test results.

CLS values were also higher in the range of 0.419. The fully loaded time also was varying from different server locations. London and Dulles servers were showing less time to fully load the page. Dubai, South Africa, Brazil locations were showing higher page load times.

Speed Index values were also around the 2 to 3s range. These values were higher compared to the GTMetrix test.

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