A website checker says that you don't have gzip enabled. What about Brotli?

A website checker says that you don’t have gzip enabled. What about Brotli?

Last Updated on January 21, 2020 by Christopher G Mendla

I went down a rabbit hole trying to enable gzip compression for my sites. I found that the website checkers weren’t checking for Brotli, a newer compression tool. 

Overview

  • Page loading speed is a critical search engine ranking factor.
  • Visitors will leave your site if it is too slow to load
  • Compressing pages with a tool such as gzip makes the page load faster.
  • Tools that analyze your site’s performance will check to see if compression is enabled.
  • There is a new compression tool known as Brotli. Many of the site performance analyzers are only checking for gzip and do not recognize Brotli. (As of January 2020)
  • This can cause you to ‘chase a ghost’ trying to enable gzip when Brotli is already enabled.
  • The sites were all WordPress sites but the situation outlined here can apply to any platform: Ruby on Rails, Drupal, Joomla or other platforms.

Checking your site.

There are a number of sites that will help you check and analyze the performance of your site such as Pagespeed Insights by Google and Pingdom.

I checked with several tools and they all indicated that the site’s performance was hindered by not having Gzip enabled. I double checked my Apache settings as well as my WP Super Cache settings. Everything seemed to indicate that compression was enabled. 

Below you can see part of the evaluation for this site from Pingdom that indicates that there is no compression. 

Pingdom indicates that compression is NOT enabled for the site
Pingdom indicates that compression is NOT enabled for the site

Maybe the website analysis tools were wrong

I spent a couple of hours trying to enable Gzip but, according to everything on my site, compression was enabled. It dawned on me that perhaps the site evaluation tools were wrong. That seemed to be a long shot but worth pursuing. 

I found a site, Giftofspeed.com and checked my sites.  The results indicated that compression WAS enabled but that it was not Gzip. The compression being used was Brotli.  That name stood out as I had Broccoli with lunch and dinner that day. 

Giftofspeed shows that compression IS enabled for the site (Brotli)
Giftofspeed shows that compression IS enabled for the site (Brotli)

Summary

Checking performance factors such as the implementation of compression is important. However, many of the tools were giving me a false indication of a problem. I still have slow loading pages on some of the sites but compression is not the cause.

I am sure that the website analysis tools will catch up with the fact that Brotli is being used by hosting companies for compression.

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