Page speed is an important Google ranking factor to help your site get seen online by your target audience. Google has previously indicated that site speed is one of the signals use to rank websites, and this is likely to be a major factor in future algorithm changes. Google provides a PageSpeed Insights Tool to help you improve the speed of your site, however optimising your site’s performance is not as simple as just looking at the recommendations from this. It’s important to understand that, while PageSpeed Insights is indeed a great tool to test websites, it does have limitations.
Your focus should not be on achieving a score of 100/100, but on implementing the recommendations and optimisations the tool specifies – and for each of these you need to determine if these are relevant for your website, and if it’s worth compromising on functionality or visual appeal to achieve a better result in PageSpeed Insights.
Overall, visitors don’t care about your PageSpeed Insights score, they care about how fast your website feels to load and navigate through.
What is Page Speed?
Page speed is the loading speed for the individual pages on your website – the web page’s loading time in seconds.
Page Speed can be impacted by several factors, including images, animations, site and server performance, browser, connection type, background apps, and user ISP.
Why Does your Page Speed Matter?
Your page speed not only directly impacts your SEO and ranking in search engine results pages; it is a critical factor in the experience your website audience has when visiting your site. The faster your website loads and responds to user actions, the more visitors will engage with and explore your content.
Why does this matter so much? Half of all users will leave a site if a page has not loaded within 2 seconds, and after just 3 seconds if it has not loaded properly. If your site doesn’t quickly and properly load, Google will flag it as delivering a poor user experience – and your ranking will suffer.
What You Must Know About PageSpeed Insights
PageSpeed Insights is an online tool Google offers that you can use to identify the issues impacting the performance of a website based on accessibility and User Experience. Page speed is measured in seconds, whereas your Page Speed Score is out of 100. The score matters in terms of SEO, but it should not be your sole (or even primary) focus.
While PageSpeed Insights is based on website best practices, it’s definitely more relevant to a custom-built site where you have granular control over every technical component of your website. In other words, it may not always be the best (and is certainly not the only) tool that is useful to use to determine the performance of a site.
When using a CMS system (for example, WordPress) and adding functionality like page builders, contact forms, social media feeds etc., PageSpeed Insights will provide recommendations that simply are not practical, and which to comply with would often mean sacrificing some of your site’s functionality. While this means your PageSpeed Insights score will be higher, this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right choice for your website.
An interesting example that shows this is practice is the Wall St Journal website. This is one of the world’s most popular and successful websites, and would have a largeteam of top web developers working on it, yet it does not score well at all according to PageSpeed Insights.. This doesn’t mean the site isn’t optimised, fast, or that it’s flawed! It is simply an example of a situation where the PageSpeed Insights recommendations aren’t particularly relevant for that business.
In terms of your website, implementing all of the recommendations that PageInsights offers may deliver enormous improvements in page speed scores; however, it might also require removing essential elements which track user activity, provide functionality for eCommerce, manage bookings, generate engagement, and help create the look and feel for the site.
Such elements may include:
- CMS (Content Management System) eg
- WordPress, Joomla, Drupal etc
- Tracking scripts like Google Analytics, Facebook Pixel, Hubspot
- Web fonts from Google Fonts or Adobe TypeKit
- Spam prevention from Google’s reCAPCHA service
- WordPress / Joomla theme files and functionality
- eCommerce functionality via a platform like WooCommerce
- Media content like image galleries or videos
- Page builder plugins like WP Bakery Builder or Elementor
Alternatives to PageInsights
Here at Sparx Digital, we do use Google PageSpeed Insights, but it’s only one of the tools we use to check speed and performance of websites and we understand that it has its limitations. Our core focus is on what’s best overall for our clients, and this includes the important consideration and balancing of performance, functionality and style. Part of our process here is to use a range of different tools to build an overall picture of speed and performance. Some of the other tools we use regularly are:
Both of these website performance tools allow for testing directly from an Australian location – unlike many other tools which only have testing sites located at international bases.
These tools all offer similar features to PageInsights, however:
- Different test locations can deliver different results, due to factors like network connection quality. A test location closest to your website’s target audience offers a more accurate representation of page loading speed.
- Recommendations differ between tools, as do scores. They are not necessarily comparable.
- Some tools analyse the onload time, while others analyse fully-loaded time. Onload time may misinterpret your page’s true loading time.
- Both the tools above can show a ‘waterfall’ analysis, helping to identify which functionality, plugins and assets are the biggest contributors to load time.
- Different tools use different types of browsers to analyse your URL; this may alter your reported load time.
- Key features of each tool vary dramatically.
Sparx can help you build or improve your website’s loading time!
PageSpeed Insights is, overall, a great reference tool, but chasing the highest score shouldn’t be your end goal. Much more valuable to your online visibility, audience experience, and return on investment is having a website that feels fast to load, while still having the required functionality and styling for your brand and business.
Sparx Digital is a leading digital agency and we have the expertise and experience to help you improve your page speed for better SEO and user experience.
We have a dynamic team to work with you to boost your presence online, improve the experience for your audience, and get real results for your business.