Understanding Google PageSpeed Insights

As a business owner in 2017, know that your website speed can be a killer. Countless studies have proven the importance of download speed to overall user experience and satisfaction. One Kissmetrics report found that 40% of shoppers will abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load. You could lose almost half of your potential customers with below average download speeds. Luckily, there is a tool that can help you analyze your speeds and make improvements – Google PageSpeed Insights.

About the PageSpeed Insight Tool from Google

PageSpeed Insights analyzes websites based on URLs that users input. It measures the performance of a site in terms of mobile and desktop use, fetching the URL through two different user agents. It determines whether the page has applied the speed rules and best practices and gives it a score depending on how the site stacks up. The score ranges from 0 to 100, with 100 being the best. The tool will give a score based on the following standards:

  • Number of landing page redirects
  • Whether or not compression is enabled
  • Server response time
  • Browser caching leveraging
  • Minified resources
  • Optimized images
  • Optimized CSS delivery
  • The priority of visible content
  • The presence of render-blocking JavaScript
  • The use of asynchronous scripts

In general, websites should avoid plugins, use legible font sizes throughout, and have viewports configured for maximum usability. The PageSpeed Insight tool will lower the grades of sites that do not abide by the accepted standards for modern mobile and desktop websites. As these standards change, website administrators will need to update their sites for the most recent SEO best practices. Keep checking your PageSpeed score periodically to make sure you’re still on top of the latest requirements.

Interpreting Your Google PageSpeed Insights Results

Don’t obsess about receiving a 100/100 score. A less-than-perfect score isn’t the end of the world. It doesn’t necessarily mean your website is suffering due to subpar speeds. It’s impossible for sites to get perfect scores in some situations – especially WordPress sites with several external scripts or multipurpose themes. It’s okay to not make 100 percent. The Insights tool uses three main categories to judge a website: good, needs work, and poor. As long as your site ranks in the “Good” category, you shouldn’t worry too much about your exact score.

“Good,” or a score of 85 and higher, means that your website contains most best practices and delivers a good user experience. There may be room for improvement but, overall, your site performs pretty well. “Needs work” is a yellow flag that means you should consider a revamp. Your page may be missing some common optimizations that are resulting in slower download speeds and a worse user experience. The tool will provide recommendations for what to change to improve your score. Ignoring a “Needs work” score could bode badly for your brand and lead to preventable lost business in the long run.

A “poor” score on Google PageSpeed Insights is a red flag for website performance. It means your website failed on both parameters: time to complete an above-the-fold load and time to complete a full page load. You may see several recommendations with the red exclamation point icon. Fixing these issues could significantly impact your page performance. Look at a “poor” rating as an urgent business concern. A perfect grade might not be necessary, but you should at least strive for a “good” rating. Address each yellow- or red-flagged recommendation on your score sheet systematically, and watch your score improve.

How Important Is Your PageSpeed Insights Score?

Google PageSpeed Insights is meant for just that – to provide insights on how your website performs in terms of loading speeds. Its purpose is not to penalize your site or make you believe you’re losing customers due to inefficiencies. The majority of websites will not receive a 100/100 score. A less-than-perfect grade does not mean you should worry about your page’s performance. Some of the recommendations your report will feature are impossible or unrealistic for your site. There may also be inconsistencies – for instance, PageSpeed removes points for CDNs, yet a CDN can improve speed for international visitors.

In some instances, the time and effort you’ll spend addressing a recommendation is not worth the outcome. For example, say you lost a point for failing to optimize an image. If compressing the image will only save a miniscule byte of data, it may not increase your score. Don’t waste time worrying about every single recommendation your Insights report highlights. Pay attention to red flag indicators, but know when to dismiss suggestions that do not apply to your particular website.

Google PageSpeed Insights is not the end-all solution for page speed analyzers. Alternatives exist that may give reveal more information about the performance of your page. Like Insights, most of these features are free. A few examples are the KeyCDN Speed Test, Pingdom Website Speed Test, and GTMetrix. Many site managers and SEO experts use more than one speed test for a comprehensive overview of site performance. Play around with a few different tools before getting too stuck on your Google PageSpeed results.