The online network we live in today is all about “page speed.” Of course, there are multiple things that you can do to improve SEO and overall website relevance. But PageSpeed Insights are still probably the most important aspect of how your website will be ranked on Google. This is because page speed and mobile performance are both huge keys to success.
What is Google PageSpeed Insights?
Google PageSpeed Insights is a web performance tool that was created by Google to help you easily identify ways to make your site faster and more mobile-friendly. This is done by following recommendations on best web practices.
PageSpeed Insights (PSI) reports on the performance of your website pages using both mobile and desktop services. The system then makes suggestions on how performance can be improved.
The data provided is also used for an overall score. This score basically summarizes a page’s performance. Here is how the scoring breaks down so you understand where you are when you receive a score.
- 90 and above = Fast
- 50 – 89 = Average
- 49 and below = Slow
Since 2018, Google PageSpeed Insights have been calculated using Google Lighthouse. This is Google’s open-source, automated tool created for improving the quality of web pages. Lighthouse can actually check all sorts of things, such as performance, accessibility, progressive web apps, and more.
Lighthouse can be run a couple of different ways. You can run it in Chrome DevTools, from the command line, or as a Node module. Basically, You give Google Lighthouse a URL to audit. It takes that submitted URL and runs a series of audits against the page. A report is then generated based on how well the page did. From here, you can use the failing part of the info to improve your website.
Google Lighthouse also has a Chrome extension that you can add right to your browser and easily run the tool. This makes it easier than running a command-line code and makes the mobile-friendly test easier as well.
Now that you have a better understanding of Google PageSpeed Insights, let’s take a look at some ways you can use it to help your website.
How Can PageSpeed Insights Help You?
Well, let’s talk about this for a second. Research from Google has shown us that there is a direct connection between conversion rates and the load time of a website. Their research also shows that you could be losing up to half of your prospects to a slow and lagging post-click landing page.
See, in year’s past, we thought headlines, CTA button color, and design were all the biggest aspects of conversion. While those items remain important (we are after all visual people), delivering a faster user experience is king. Running mobile-friendly tests to make sure your site is rendering correctly on hand-held devices is also very important.
This is where Google PageSpeed Insights come in. You use it to run tests on your site. You then take that info and make the corrections needed to get the highest possible score you can.
So what are some things you can do before you test your site with Google? Here are a few things that will help you.
Note: These are not in any particular order. I recommend doing all of them though just to be thorough.
Perform Image and Other Compression
In general, web browsers are built to serve a smaller, alternative version of your web page to users. So, you need to do everything you can to get the web page size down and allow it to be served faster.
One of the best ways to do this is to optimize and compress images on your website. This allows them to be rendered faster and more efficiently. This helps to speed up your page load times and keeping people engaged longer.
You can also optimize using gzip.
Simply put, “minifying” refers to removing unnecessary or redundant data from a web page without affecting how the browser processes it. More often than not, it is poor coding that leads to this problem. However, it can be fixed using a number of tools.
You can do it manually if you know what you are doing. There are good plugins to use for WordPress sites that make this process easy as well. Or, you can use the following resources recommended by Google:
- The HTML minifier to minify HTML.
- CSSNano and csso to minify CSS.
Note: You can also dig into using Google’s AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages).
Above the Fold Content Should Be Prioritized
In order to increase page speed and get a good report from Google Page Insights, you should prioritize above the fold content.
Basically, a web browser sees a web page and prioritizes content that it perceives most important and goes down from there. However, the content on a page a browser perceives to be vital may not actually be the most important content on the page.
It is important that you prioritize content yourself in a way that makes the web browser load it how you want it to load. Bad code will slow your site down.
You can prioritize above the fold content fairly easily, so make sure you do so.
Speed Up Your Server Response Time
What is server response time? Basically, it is the amount of time your server takes to start loading page content. This can be slowed down for any number of reasons including:
- Database Queries
- Slow Routing
- Resource CPU Starvation
- Memory Starvation
That being said, this really comes down to the hosting platform you have chosen. One size does not fit all, and they are all not the same.
In order to speed up your server response time, check out the areas I mentioned above and make sure you have a solid hosting provider that will help with an excellent server response time.
We talked about above the fold content already, so you get what this means now.
Leverage Your Browser Caching Properly
Oftentimes, it can take multiple requests between a server and browser before a page fully loads for a user. When you think of that in a time perspective, it can really add up.
Caching is a way to allow a browser to “remember” certain elements of a web page that have previously been loaded. Things like:
- Certain Content
So basically, the more elements of a web page the browser can cache, the faster it can load a web page because those elements are already remembered. Fewer elements makes for a faster load time.
Caching policy is your call, but Google does recommend a once a week caching policy as the most ideal. You can do this no matter what browser you use.
SEO is a crucial part of any website. It also plays a part in the PageSpeed Insights scoring process. Optimizing your content so that Google crawlers understand it and can index it properly is key.
As far as setting up SEO on your website correctly, I recommend you use Yoast SEO for this.
As you can see, the importance of Google Insights can’t be overstated. Google provides this tool for you because they want you to have a faster loading, mobile-ready website. According to their standards, these things are pivotal to success.
Not only that, but as we talked about, there is plenty of data suggesting the link between conversions and page load speeds. Not many of us will sit for more than a few seconds to wait for a webpage to become apparent. You are more likely to lose traffic than keep it with a slower load time.
Use the Google PageSpeed Insights tool and use Google Lighthouse to test your web pages and see where you stand. Once you get the results back, the recommended fixes and suggestions Google gives you will only help your website in the long run.