How To Make Your Google PageSpeed Insights Score Rocket To The Top
One of the first things a user notices about your website is how long it takes to load. The faster it is, the happier they are.
More than 73 percent of mobile internet users claim that they encountered websites that take too long to load. This is the reason why page speed is one of the most important ranking factors that determine your web page’s position in Google search results. Tools like Google PageSpeed Insights have been beneficial in quantifying this aspect of user experience.
Your web page should load in three seconds to get your user to spend as much time on your website as possible. Pagespeed optimization not only improves your rankings, but it makes for a better web experience for your user as well.
Today, we’ll go over how you can use Google PageSpeed Insights to your advantage and leave a lasting impression on your audience. You’ll learn how to improve your Google PageSpeed scores and use it to make your website faster and better.
What Does The Google Page Speed Insights Tool Do?
Google PageSpeed Insights provides marketers with both lab data and field data and is powered by the Lighthouse. Lab data is collected in a controlled environment and is beneficial in identifying your website’s performance issues. Field data, on the other hand, is collected from the actual and real-time performance analytics from when users load the web page.
Google PageSpeed Insights tool gives you a performance score out of 100, which is determined by the performance and speed of your website. However, the metrics used to calculate this performance score are not equal, and some are weighted more heavily than others. The Google PageSpeed score is calculated using the following metrics:
- First contentful paint- 3x
- First meaningful paint – 2x
- Time to interactive – 5x
- Speed index – 4x
- First CPU idle- 2x
Once the test is complete, the Google PageSpeed Insights displays a performance report. This report is classified into three groups and indicates the overall performance of your website.
The red color indicates a poor score between 0-49
The orange color indicates an average score between 50-89
The green color indicates a good score between 90-100
Why Does Page Speed Matter?
Today’s internet users are looking for quick answers and solutions. This is why websites are expected to be as fast as possible.
Apart from enhancing page experience, page speed has become one of the top 200 most important ranking factors to reflect how important it is for a website’s UX.
Speed is not just a ranking factor – there is a direct correlation between having a faster website and more conversions. A connection between speed and higher conversion rates was found in a 2019 study by Portent. The study showed that with each additional second of load time (between seconds 0 to 5), conversion rates dropped by an average of 4.42%. The study also found that the first 5 seconds of the page speed affect conversion rates the most.
All these studies demonstrate the importance of speed – even a minor improvement to your website’s Google PageSpeed can have a positive impact on your business.
Is Google PageSpeed Insights Accurate?
Google PageSpeed Insights includes different metrics to offer an accurate overview of your website performance. Some of the most recent changes to it made over the last several years have improved its reliability and accuracy even more.
An earlier iteration of Google PageSpeed Insights was released in November 2018 and was called Google PageSpeed 5.0. called. It began using the Chrome User Experience Report database and Lighthouse audits.
Two years later, in May 2020, Lighthouse 6.0 was introduced with new metrics. These metrics can now be seen in the modern PageSpeed Insights report. The new metrics capture has improved the overall performance of the tool and captures the user experience better.
All the updates have made this tool more reliable, and this is why you can safely rely on your Google PageSpeed score to determine how well your website performs and interacts with users. This tool also offers recommendations to improve the weak areas of your website. You can use these insights to enhance the user experience and improve your Google PageSpeed score as well.
Google PageSpeed Vs. WebPageTest Vs. GTMetrix
Even though Google PageSpeed Insights is an accurate and reliable tool to check your website’s performance, it is not the only such pagespeed tool available. Other tools like GTMetrix, WebPageTest, and Pingdom are some alternatives to Page Speed. Let’s look at some of the options to understand key differences between these website speed test tools.
Google PageSpeed Insights
This tool shows you two main tabs — one for desktop, and for mobile. Page speed also does a great job of offering specific actions that improve your score and user experience.
The PageSpeed tool is self-contained, meaning you cannot create an account on it and track your results over time. The only option users have to measure their performance over time is to continually run manual tests at intervals.
PageSpeed can identify problems bringing down your search rankings like lack of caching policy, a high number of third-party requests, excessive DOM structures, etc. Although the tool offers actionable ways to improve your website’s speed, it leaves a small window for customization. You will not be able to specify some more specific parameters like server location or connection throttling, and neither are these parameters reported.
WebPageTest performs three tests and displays the results in median statistics.
Under a simple routine test, the advanced settings are run at their default values. Once the test is completed it gives you a screenshot of the loaded website, and an option to see the filmstrip view or the video of the test. A detailed tab displays the waterfall report with more metrics and details of each test run.
The performance review displays a complete optimization checklist of the website. This tool lists its resources and stacks them against the set parameters affecting the performance of the website. The site is broken down into several tabs, and each tab displays the speed of the website. The domain, processing, and content breakdown tab will display a distribution of requests and content on the webpage, while Image Analysis and Request Maps will redirect you to other services.
GTMetrix has several features that allow you to test the performance of your website.
The final result of the test is distributed into three metrics: the total size of the page, page load time, and the total number of HTTP requests. A comparison is also shown between your own metrics and the average scores from all the websites tested using GTMetrix. With an ad-hoc test, you cannot specify the browser, connection setting, or test location.
Image optimization plays a significant role in ranking, and this is why videos and images must be optimized to rank your website higher. The number of HTTP requests affects your score on GTMetrix as well. The Waterfall tab available using the “Inspect” tool can be used to analyze how much time was spent on each request when the page was loaded.
After creating an account on GTMetrix, you will have access to videos and graphs, and you can also perform multiple tests on your website.
How The Three Tests Compare
These three tests are the most commonly-used pagespeed tools by developers and SEO teams to test a website’s performance, but how do these tools compare with each other?
1. Device and Browser Selection
The tests should be conducted from different devices and browsers to emulate your website’s performance on different networks, and a good testing tool should allow you to choose your browsers and devices.
- Google Pagespeed Insights: results are shown on two tabs, one for mobile and desktop — however, you don’t get many customization options to select which mobile device you want to run your test on.
- WebPageTest: you can specify a browser and a device combination. They have a variety of devices available to choose from.
- GTMetrix: GTMetrix lets you test your website from your chosen browser and device combination. However, the user will be required to create an account to customize these options.
2. Test Location
The load time varies on the location of the test and the location of the server. This is why to reach your customers in their own region, your server should be as close to their geographic location as possible. When you specify the test location, you will get the most accurate results about your website.
- Google PageSpeed Insights: you can’t specify the location of the test, as it is mostly calculated internally based on the location of your website’s own server.
- GTMetrix: allows you to specify the location of the test. They have a variety of location options that you can choose from, but you will need to register first to use this feature.
- WebPageTest: also lets you select locations when conducting a test. Almost all significant locations can be found with this tool.
3. Waterfall Analysis
A website speed testing tool should offer this important feature to help analyze the bottlenecks in the website’s design and structure. A waterfall chart usually displays the time each resource takes to load and how it affects the overall loading of the web page.
- Both the WebPageTest and GTMetrix tools show you a waterfall chart to carefully analyze your website and how long each resource takes to load.
- Google Pagespeed Insights does not include a waterfall analysis
How To Score A Perfect 100 On Google PageSpeed Insights
A higher score on this tool means a fast and optimized website. Achieving a perfect 100 score on PageSpeed is difficult, but not impossible. With the right methods and processes, you can optimize your website’s speed and performance to achieve a perfect 100 score. Some tips that can be used to score perfectly on this test include:
Eliminate Render-Blocking Resources
These files need to be processed and downloaded by the visitor’s browser before the rest of the page can be displayed. Thus, having a lot of scripts above the fold can affect the speed of your website negatively. According to Google, two solutions can be used to fix this issue.
Remove Unused CSS
The code in your stylesheets is considered content, and it must be loaded first to make your page visible to the users. Any CSS that is not being used on your website puts an unnecessary drain on its performance. This is why it’s recommended to remove any unused CSS.
The process is similar to that of eliminating render-blocking CSS. the styles can be inline or defer in the way that suits your web pages. Also, tools like Chrome DevTools can be used to find and optimize unused CSS.
Media files like videos, audio, and images can have a serious impact on your site’s performance if they are not accurately sized or optimized.
Optimizing your file to an acceptable size is the simplest way to reduce your page load time. If you are using large images on your page, you can use CSS to resize them and reduce their impact. However, this method can take longer than loading them at the right size from the beginning.
Upload the accurately sized images or use responsive images, and create different sized images for specific devices. This can be done by using the srcset attribute, which is added to the image tags to specify the image files at different sizes. This list is read by the browser and it determines the best version of your image for the screen and displays the selected version to the user. Some other methods of optimizing include:
- Compress Images
Images can significantly impact the performance of a website, which is why it’s important to optimize them. The most simple way to optimize your images is to compress them. This method reduces the size of the file and makes them load faster. This is one of the most commonly advised methods by technical SEO experts and Google itself. The goal here is to reach the smallest file size possible without compromising the quality of the image. Several plugins like Smush and Imagift can be used to achieve the desired results. Some other methods of image optimization include:
- Implementing lazy loading (deferring offscreen images until above-the-fold content is loaded)
- Using animated video formats like GIFsServing images at an accurate size
- Convert To Nextgen Formats Optimized For Browsers (WebP)
Some image formats load faster than others, but they are not common formats like PNG or JPEG. WebP is a new format that is becoming the standard format for better speed and performance, and Google expects you to use it in your web pages. Google PageSpeed Insights will inform your website doesn’t adhere to this new standard.
This recommendation is challenging to meet, but several plugins can help you change the format of your images to comply with the set standards. Smush and Imagify both offer a feature that lets you convert your images to WebP format. You can use them to make the switch and make your website faster.
- Defer Or Lazy Load Offscreen Images
Deferring or lazy loading images refers to the same process: loading the images that are immediately visible on page load first. The browser loads visible photos first instead of loading every single image file at once, which automatically improves the performance of the page. This is why lazy loading is recommended by Google.
Reduce TTFB Latency
Time to First Byte (TTFB) is a measure that determines how long the browser takes to receive its first byte of data back from your site’s server after it has made a request. Having a low TTFB can affect the speed of your website. This is why Google recommends reducing the server time. Some ways to reduce your TTFB include:
- Using lightweight plugins and themes
- Using a CDN (Content Delivery Network)
- Choosing a good DNS (Domain Name System) provider
- Selecting a high-quality web hosting provider that can offer improve Google Page Speed
- Using fewer plugins on your site
- Implementing browser caching
Enable Text Compression
This recommendation refers to using GZIP compression. On some servers, the feature of text compression is enabled automatically. However, if it is not automatically enabled on your website, you can use some options to comply with the recommendation.
You can also install a plugin with a GZIP compression feature. WP Rocket is a good choice if you don’t mind using a paid plugin.
You can also choose to compress the text on your website manually. This can be done by editing your .htaccess files, but doing this is risky, so be sure to create a recent backup file first.
Avoid Multiple 301 Redirect Chains
301 redirects are used to move a user from one URL to another, and are used when a page is deleted or moved. Although using redirects by itself isn’t a bad practice, they can add to page loading time and bog down a website page load. When a page has too many redirects in a sequence, you will be recommended to fix it to improve the Google PageSpeed score. The only way to fix this is by only using redirects when absolutely necessary.
Serve Static Assets With An Efficient Caching Policy
Google PageSpeed Insights shows this recommendation as a browser caching warning. You can implement caching through WordPress plugins. However, some hosting providers enable caching via their servers as well.
Check if your hosting provider enables caching through their servers. After enabling caching, you should check the efficiency of your caching policy. Browsers must clear their cache periodically and refresh them with new updates.
Google PageSpeed Insights and Perender
With Prerender, your website will be optimized to score as high as possible on every speed test. Prerender is there to help you improve your search rankings first, but our tool also offers many pagespeed optimization opportunities which give you an edge in Google’s algorithm. Using our services will enhance your website’s core vitals and help you interact with users effectively. To stay ahead of the game, register for a demo, and get your website running at its peak.