Google PageSpeed Scores and Website Speed
We all know that web pages should load quickly. It’s what people expect. If websites load too slowly (which is just a matter of seconds), they will ditch your page (technically called a “bounce”) and go somewhere else. With how technical websites are today and considering all the different browsers they need to work on – both desktop and mobile devices – it really does take a team of experts to make a website that will perform.
One tool Google gives everyone to use to help measure website speed (as well as give suggestions) is Google PageSpeed Insights.
When you enter your website’s URL (which can be any page – not just the home page), you get scores showing how quickly it loads for both desktop and mobile devices.
“Think Like Google”
I use this phrase a lot. If you follow that phrase when building a website, you’ll end up with a great website that ranks well. Whatever you do, check it against this phrase.
Google is a business. They want you to use their search engine for searching because they can sell ads on the side. To get you to use their search engine, they have to give the best results. There are millions of web pages created every day, so they need a way to automatically figure out which websites to show. They do this by crawling websites and then using what they find in their algorithm. This algorithm is how they automatically figure out which websites to rank higher than others. They look at LOTS of things.
One thing they look at is page speed. They want to give out results where the website load quickly. If both you and your competitor had equal websites but one loaded faster, Google is going to rank the website that loads faster higher. Again… think like Google.
Another example is responsive and mobile websites. If a search is done on a mobile device, Google is going to give results of websites that look good and work well (are optimized) for those devices. Those are the best results, right? Think like Google.
There are lots of other factors like how many links are pointing to a page and if the page is relevant and so forth. Google tweaks their algorithm daily and comes out with major updates a few times a year.
What is a Good PageSpeed Score?
I used to think we had to get a website to rank at 100 since the score you get is out of 100 but then I found this article where a guy did testing to try to get a page to 95 and could only get it to 91:
According to Kissmetrics, nearly half of web users expect a site to load in two seconds or less, and they tend to abandon sites that don’t load within three seconds. A total of 79 per cent of online shoppers who have trouble with site performance won’t return to the site to buy again and about 44 per cent of them would tell a friends if they had a poor experience shopping online.
While site speed is one of more than 200 signals Google uses to determine search rankings, and fewer than 1 per cent of search queries are affected by the site speed signal, it’s conversions that you need to worry about. A fast site will give your visitors confidence in your product or service and convince them to hand over their cash.
I admit defeat. A total score of 91/100 is the highest I can achieve on PageSpeed Insights.
Yes, attempting to beat the system made me frustrated and maybe even a little batty, though overall I learnt much.
If you think about it, this makes perfect sense. There are companies that spend thousands and thousands a month on the best website hosting with multiple servers and load balancing (or even server farms) all serving up one website. A PageSpeed score needs to have room for all of those kinds of websites to score, so they’re obviously going to be in the upper, 92-100 range. Unless you spend a lot on website hosting, you won’t reach those scores.
The best score any normal website can probably expect to achieve is probably 90 or 91.
Is PageSpeed “All That?”
If your website has a PageSpeed score of 85 and your competitor is at 50 and still ranks higher, don’t scratch your head. We’re saying that how quickly a website loads is only 1 factor. It’s one of many. Congratulations on fixing that one thing… now it’s time to move on to other factors.
Also, PageSpeed is just a tool. It uses rules. Here’s a related article about that:
The Biggest Misconception about Google Page Speed (blog.catchpoint.com)
Is Investing in Website Speed Worth It?
There’s my whole “think like Google” spiel above but besides that, it’s the user experience. You want your website visitors to have the best experience possible. Part of that is your website’s design but other parts include how it’s built, what kind of hosting it’s using and so forth. Here’s some more about why it’s important to have a website that loads quickly since it can affect other things:
Page Speed Matters! Why You Need to Improve Yours Today (marketingland.com)
How Do I Increase my Google Page Speed Score?
Ah, the million dollar question!
The short answer… you’re going to need a web geek.
We had a website recently where we developed the website and it just ran too slowly. The client wasn’t happy with it and neither were we. It took a lot of troubleshooting and we tried a number of things. In the end, we cracked it and got it loading MUCH faster. The client is really happy with the website speed but at the beginning, it was a needle in a haystack. We had to look at it from many angles. There are things on the server to look at, there’s code optimization, along with compression and other things to analyze and test. It’s not easy but it can be done.
Here are some main things to look at:
- Are images optimized?
- Are there too many images?
- Does the home page need so many things or can it be trimmed down?
- Is the website calling things from other servers? Are there problems there?
- Are there errors in the error log?
- Is compression enabled on the server?
- Is SSL being utilized when it doesn’t need to be?
And then here is what Google recommends to increase your page speed:
- Avoid Redirects
- Enable Compression
- Improve Server Response Time
- Leverage Browser Caching
- Optimize Images
- Optimize CSS Delivery
- Prioritize Visible Content
- Use Asynchronous Scripts
This is just a partial list. We checked these things with that client example I gave you and it turned out to be something else – which I won’t reveal here, sorry.
The point is, it takes analysis and work to find one thing that helps or it’s more likely a combination of things… you never know. It’s going to take work. It’ll need to be investigated and that takes time and effort – along with a team that won’t give up until they find out the reason why the website isn’t loading quickly.
Often times, we’re finding some WordPress themes are not made very well. If there are hundreds of lines of code before the <head> tag appears in the HTML page source, then that’s a bloated website. More care needs to be taken regarding which scripts and style sheets are being loaded on which pages.
We can re-do your website theme, keeping it looking the same, and get you a higher Google page speed score. Contact us for more information on this.
First Test Your Web Server
The first thing you want to do is just make a basic, HTML page (with no database calls, images or anything else) and test that page. That’s the absolute best you’re going to score – no matter what. It’s the best your hosting can do. You can then add more and more into the equation and find out what the hog is and then work on that item. It’s a lot of testing and retesting and even a little guesswork.
Here’s a basic, HTML page I set up:
I actually got a 100/100 perfect score for this page – take a look:
This means that there are no problems with our web server. If you set up a page like this and get a score lower than that, then you might want to first investigate your web server to see if there is anything that can be fixed or maybe even change hosts.
I got the 100 score because the page is basically nothing. It’s just 517 bytes and is just one hit because it does not load images or anything else. You really wouldn’t have a web page like this but it helps you test. One you start adding images and functionality and navigation and everything, the score starts going down. The goal is to minimize that as much as possible.
We have received scores of 100 for real web pages on our clients’ websites, too. It IS possible.
Getting a web page to load faster might be easy and it might not be. A certain website/web page could be made so bad that just fixing a few things could make it load quite a bit faster. That’s the “low hanging fruit” here. Beyond that, to get it to load even faster and get a better score, it’s going to take some fine tuning.
The old “one man shop” that does website design just can’t cut it anymore. For them to spend that much time digging into a website will just kill their profit to the point where they just have to throw up their hands or lose a lot of money on a project. Instead, if you get an in-house team to work on your website (like Webstix), we gain knowledge on every project and creating a website that loads quickly just comes naturally. Even some firms in town who outsource and hire local freelancers for every project just don’t have the advantage we have with our skilled team of experts who work just for us. We’ve been in business since 2001 and have had an in-house team from day one.
You can see here how complicated it now is to create a website that will perform, beat your competition and give you a return on your investment. You’ll want to hire a website design firm that has the expertise and experience to produce websites that load quickly and rank high. You want every advantage you can get to beat your competition. Check out hiring Webstix today!