Google Page Speed Insights – What You Need to Know
Does your website run quickly enough?
Did you know that page speed is a Google ranking factor? It’s so important for search engine ranking that Google provides a Page Speed Insights Tool to help you optimise the speed of your site.
What is Page Speed?
Page speed is the loading speed for individual pages on your website. It is not a score per se, but rather the web page’s loading time in seconds. But the faster and more seamlessly your pages load, the higher your score will be.
It can be impacted by several factors, including (but not limited to):
- Videos and animations
- Website performance
- Server performance
- User ISP
- Connection type (3G delivers suboptimal load times)
- Number of background apps running
As the website owner, you can only control your website itself and your chosen host server.
Why Does your Page Speed Matter?
While the time it takes for your page to load is important to your audience, it is also important from a technical perspective. Your page speed directly impacts your search engine optimisation and the position Google awards you in search engine results pages. The faster your website loads and responds to user actions the more users will engage with your site and spend time exploring your content.
Half of all internet users will leave a site if the page has not loaded within 2 seconds. The average internet user will leave a site after just 3 seconds if it has not loaded properly – and they are unlikely to return. If your site fails to load properly and quickly, Google will flag it as providing a poor user experience and your ranks will suffer.
While page speed is measured in seconds, your Page Speed Score (out of 100) does matter in terms of SEO and the Google algorithm.
Google PageSpeed Insights
Google has updated its PageSpeed Insights Tool, and while is it certainly now improved, it remains difficult to understand for a lot of people.
Google PageSpeed Insights is an online tool Google offers which you can use to identify issues that affect the performance of your (or any) website. It is useful for site owners, developers, and webmasters. You can also use it to identify how your competitors rank for this indicator compared with you.
Relating mostly to offsite or technical SEO issues, the tool enables you to analyse your website based on accessibility and User Experience.
You simply visit PageSpeed Insights and enter your URL. The tool will return results relating to the performance of your website. While there are other tools available, PageSpeed Insights is the one most commonly used by SEO experts.
The Score is calculated using Lab Data performance metrics; in order of importance, these are First Meaningful Paint, First CPU Idle, First Contentful Paint, Speed Index, and Time-to-Interactive.
Metrics for PageSpeed Insights
Various metrics are used by Google to define how speed scores are awarded:
Field Data – extracted from authentic users and demonstrates a site’s real-life average speed.
Lab Data – collected from and tested through a controlled connection and environment – this is what generates the reported Google Page Speed score. Lab Data includes:
- First Contentful Paint – reflects and represents a user’s first-sight experience of your page. Does the page render fully from the outset?
- First Meaningful Paint – at what point can the user understand the first piece of content presented?
- Speed Index – how fast are website elements visibly populated? This is measured in seconds.
- First CPU Idle – at what point has the site loaded sufficient information to handle the user’s first action?
- Time-to-Interactive – the time taken for the entire site to be fully loaded and interactive.
- Max Potential First Input Delay – the delay between user interaction and browser response. (This metric does not impact page speed scores).
- Opportunities and Diagnostics – specific suggestions to improve the website performance and site speed.
- Passed Audits – list of elements which your web page is already doing well.
Some Things to Consider:
The General Score provides an average of multiple ranking factors, and this is followed by details about what is impacting the speed of your site.
- The General Score is given for both mobile and desktop versions of the site, with the mobile score given first. Your mobile optimisation must be flawless if you wish to rank highly on search engine results pages. You must keep in mind too, that connection speed (which has nothing to do with your website) also impacts this score.
- Some people fall into the trap of believing they need to score 100/100 as their General Score. This is near impossible! While aiming for 90 or above is ideal, there are other things to consider. Focusing on the array of recommendations the tool makes for your website is much more effective than simply worrying about that numerical score.
- What Score Should You Aim for??? The average speed is between 50-89. A score below 50 indicates issues that require attention – but it’s not a crisis if your site loads completely within 3 seconds. A good score is over 90 – and this is what you should aim for, even though this can be difficult to achieve.
Quick Tips to Improve your Page Speed Score
- Choose a good server – a local server is best if your focus is on local SEO. If your target audience is in another location, select a server close to them.
- Ideally, use a dedicated server.
- Compress and optimise your images for quicker load times.
- Defer images so they load as users scroll down the page.
- Structure your HTML and CSS logically.
- Minify code and compress files where appropriate.
- Adopt an effective caching policy.
- Limit Plugins.
- Enlist an SEO expert! Page Speed optimisation can be complex – and you will be best served to hire an experienced digital provider to help.
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