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How to Improve Your Google Pagespeed Insights Score

If your website is slow, then most probably, you are losing business. It is as simple as that.

In Google’s own words, “speed = revenue.”

The speed of your page has a significant impact on conversion rates and SEO. Not taking the time to make changes can be an expensive mistake.

Why? Users are far more likely to leave a slow website, and the probability of this happening increases by over 100% if a page load time goes from just 1s to 5s:

probability of bounce

There is a real need for speed, and Google’s free Page Speed Insights tool is an excellent source to help you fix and find problems that could be the reason your website is slow. Make sure to check out our article about SEO tools, to be more prepared for what comes next.

Understand how to use the Page Speed test, how it works and finally speed up your site using the instructions. Plus, learn the truth behind a few popular myths before your opponents do.

Table of Contents:

Why Speed Matters?

There is a common expectation for the web to be fast. As far back as 2010, Google confirmed page speed as a ranking factor, until a particular mobile Page Speed update roll was introduced in July 2018.

While rate is one of more than 200 ranking factors, none of us wants to accidentally lose business. Particularly for something which is under our control. 

google position chart

But SEO aside, we have already seen how a page can bounce if a site’s speed slows down. 

If you are not paying attention to your page speed as a fulfillment metric, now’s the perfect time to do that. 

Say Hello to Google’s Page Speed Insights Tool

Page Speed Insights is a very cool, and a free tool offered by Google, which will help you analyze your website’s performance and make it better.

In fact, it is the most popular page speed analysis tool that you could find out there, so, trust me, it is definitely worth your time. 

You are probably questioning, ‘how can I get a 100/100 score with Page Speed Insights?’ For now… 

Calm down. First of all, you have to know precisely how to use the tool correctly and perform its recommendations.

Otherwise, you may not see those performance gains that can make such a difference to your site. It is also essential to know what Page Speed is and what it is not.

Page Speed vs. Load Time

The Google Page Speed tool does not measure the loading time of your website despite what people believe. To understand the reason behind that, let us first address the contrast between page load time and Page Speed.

Load Time

It is not a calculated score. It is the average time that it takes for a page to load, in milliseconds or seconds.

Of course, load time does not give an insight into what is creating speed issues or how to fix them.

Page Speed

Page Speed is a score provided by Google PageSpeed Insights tool. 

Page Speed Insights takes raw performance metrics and converts these into a score of between 1 and 100.

And although it will offer diagnostics and opportunities reports as part of its story, those do not directly add to the performance score, which basically means that Page Speed, on its own, is not actually an exact pointer of the loading time of a site.

What does this mean for you?

Google Pagespeed Insights can be quite handy, but you cannot use it to evaluate your site’s performance. You need to use different indicators to distinguish and fix issues. 

How Does Page Speed Insights Work?

The Google Page Speed tool is powered by Lighthouse and gives both ‘lab data’ and ‘field data’ for a page. 

The tool shows you a performance with a score out of 100. 

However, the performance metric returns used to determine this are not weighted evenly. Instead, things like ‘first contentful paint’ (the point at which the first pixel renders on a screen after a user navigates to a web page) have a larger effect.

  • 3x – first contentful paint.
  • 5x – time to interact.
  • 4x – speed index.
  • 0x – estimated input latency.
  • 1x – first meaningful paint.
  • 2x – first CPU idle.

But you will not see any of that. You will see a detailed performance score and a color that depends on which score bucket it falls into. It is reported as:

  • Red (poor score): 0-49
  • Orange (average): 50-89
  • Green (good): 90-100

Knowing a bit more about Page Speed Insights, how its scores are calculated, what it is, and where to start? 

How to use Page Speed Insights?

1. Go to the Page Speed tool:

page speed search

2. Enter the URL of a chosen website. After the tool calculates the scores and suggestions, you will see the following:

result

3. Notice you are assisted with performance scores for mobile. However, you can switch to desktop with the tab at the top left of the page:

page speed result

To truly learn how to use Page Speed, you need to know what all you see means and how to use it.

Speed Score

desktop result

The speed score is a color-coded illustration of lots of performance metrics from the calculations, as explained above. It is a quick, excellent, fast, but rough speed metric.

On its own, it is not a profound measure of performance, as explained earlier. 

The worse your site’s load time across measured performance metrics, the higher your speed score will be.

Be sure to link your speed score for both desktop and mobile. 

Field Data

field data

‘Field data’ outlines how the page has performed over the last 30 days. 

If available, you will also view a summary for the issue and the particular URL you are testing. Typically, this allows you to compare a specific page and all pages from the origin.

It is necessary to know that field data is aggregated from actual users on Chrome. 

But there might not be enough data for the URL that you have listed. If that is the case, you will only be able to view the ‘lab data.’

First Concertful Paint (FCP)

This measures the time spent from navigation to the page when the first bit of content is provided from the DOM. 

It is actually the first milestone to show that a page is starting to load. FCP gives the speed that helps to get to that point.

First Input Delay (FID)

It is a crucial metric for estimating load responsiveness, given that it quantifies how quickly the page returns to a user’s input.

Low FID implies that a website can be used sooner. Since FCP calculates how quickly a page starts to load, it symbolizes a user’s first reaction when associating with a courier. 

Lab Data

results for lab data

‘Lab data,’ opposed to ‘field data,’ is based on the Lighthouse analysis of the page and the following connection and device. 

This does not give real-world data; it is still helpful for understanding where problems occur.

Again, Page Speed Insights uses its natural traffic light coloring system to designate performance: displaying a square for orange, a circle for green scores, and a red triangle.

First Concertful Paint (FCP)

FCP is presented in the ‘field data’ report. It is based on the analysis from Lighthouse rather than real-world data. 

First Meaningful Paint

In simple terms, this provides the amount of time a page’s main content is presented on the screen and is an excellent way to discover a user’s loading adventure.

Speed index

The speed index metric determines how quickly a page’s content becomes visible, with lower scores, meaning better performance. 

First CPU idle

This reports on when most page elements are interactive and can return to most user inputs without unnecessary delay.

Time to Interactive (TTI)

It calculates how quickly a page becomes interactive. Optimizing clarity over interactivity can be frustrating for some users. 

So, the value of fully experiencing and estimating when a page presents useful content has been examined to be within 50 milliseconds.

Max Potential First Input Delay

Remember FID on the ‘field data’ report? For ‘lab data,’ this is listed as max potential first input delay and determines the length of the most extensive task after FCP that could be encountered by users.

Opportunities

opportunities

In the opportunities section, you will gain insight into what to focus on to improve your page loading time and Page Speed score, alongside an estimate of the reduction in load time that could be seen.

Diagnostics

On the other hand, diagnostics shows recommendations on best practices that should be considered but do not necessarily improve load times. 

Passed Audits

Passed audits are what it sounds like.

audits

What Is a Good Page Speed Score?

Do not worry if you are not achieving 100/100. You can still have a fast-loading site. Remember, Page Speed, on its own, is not a direct pointer of load time.

The possibility is that you may never reach a precise score, despite making radical changes that positively impact your site’s load time. 

Focus your resources and efforts where they make the most sense. 

Be careful that your site’s real performance indicator is its loading time, not a Page Speed Insights score.

That said, we see that Google itself says that a low score is between 0 and 49, an average score is between 50 and 89, and a good score is 90+. 

Aim for higher scores, of course, for sure, but do not obsess over getting a score of 100.

It is also crucial to know how the sites you are directly competing against on the SERPs stack up.

If you have a faster load time and a better Page Speed score, for example, 90/100, there is a very good chance your efforts could be better allocated elsewhere.

How to Improve Your Pagespeed Insights Score?

Try the recommended actions and starting points below; they are the most commonly seen issues and significantly impact improvements.

Optimize Images

Image optimization is possibly one of the most popular reasons why a website may have a slow load time and, most of the time, the best place to start making changes, as the increases in both Page Speed and load time can be significant.

When numerous people are responsible for adding products or uploading content, keeping strict standards for images, and problems can quickly mount up.

Images take a lot of sources to download, and they are often not correctly optimized. The two main areas where you can make improvements by optimizing images are:

  • Using next-gen images.
  • The disk size of an image.
  • Use a content delivery network (CDN).
  • Deferring offscreen image loading.

Size Images at Their Display Size

Another obvious issue is images being much more extensive than they need to be. 

As it stands, the browser would need to download the original (larger) picture to display at a smaller size. 

Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Be sure to upload images with the correct size; if you do not, you will run into speed issues. WordPress manages this automatically by creating various versions of an image when uploaded, but you may need to manually resize images if you are using another CMS. 

  • Using a CDN essentially increases the server load across many various locations. It uses those most familiar to the user to serve the assets—the closer the data, the faster the load time.

Defer Offscreen Images

You could also look at delaying offscreen images, meaning that they are downloaded only as a user scroll. It does have a risk as not all photos will be visible when needed.

However, it is often a trade-off worth making to increase load times. You can get several WordPress plugins that can help. 

Improving Server Response Time

The reality is that making changes to your server’s reply time is not something that most can do, given that the two areas of impact are either decreasing the load or developing the hardware.

Developing server reply time really comes down to making sure your site is treated on an excellent server.

Browser Caching

Caching works by building and quickly serving a static version of your site to users instead of a page being generated every time it is entered.

If you are not using WordPress, it is still likely to set up browser caching manually. 

Clear Up Redirects

Over time, multiple redirects can come up and result in a slowed page load speed, as browsers are required to make additional HTTP requests, adding to the load time. 

Page Speed Insights will indeed highlight these issues. 

Using SEMrush Site Audit as an Option to Page Speed Insights

The SEMrush Site is a wonderful way to test your speeds. 

Like Page Speed Insights, the Site Audit tool recommends improvements on a site’s loading speed and other performance issues. 

Plus, it will scan for more than SEO mistakes and 125 technical, providing instructions, charts, and directions on everything from content issues to crawlability.

It will provide you with a full thematic report that gives you an insight into opportunities and performance issues, showing everything you need to make changes in one message.

SEMrush results

The Performance report helps you make actionable improvements to your site’s load time and performance. It is a fast way to see the bigger picture and get a visual analysis of your metrics, data, and covering:

  • Average page load speed.
  • Page load speed.
  • JavaScript and CSS file sizes.
  • Several JavaScript and CSS files.

Additionally, the report highlights warnings, errors, and notices. All are prioritized to help you fix your issues. 

You will find data on what to do to see changes on the ‘Why and how to fix it’ section, with flagged issues including:

  • Slow average document interactive time.
  • Slow page load speeds.
  • Too large JavaScript and CSS total size.
  • Uncached JavaScript and CSS files.
  • Uncompressed pages.
  • Large HTML page size issues.
  • Redirect chains and loops.
  • Uncompressed JavaScript and CSS files.
  • Too many JavaScript and CSS files.
  • Unminified JavaScript and CSS files.

Key Takeaways

Hopefully, you are a little clearer on what Google’s Page Speed insights tool is, how it works, what it is not, as well as how to address fixing your site’s speed.

It is often difficult to know where to start. Still, by taking the time to learn where you can have the most critical impact, you can begin to work with your developers to prioritize a plan of action and turn things around. Affecting not only your site’s SEO performance but also converting users at a higher rate. By the way, you can check out this article to make sure that your SEO checklist for 2021 is ready!

Have some more questions? Let us know in the section below, we will get back to you with the most suitable response.

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