The SERPs of the Google search engine are responsible for originating 94% of the total traffic and 96% of the traffic from mobile devices ( HubSpot ). Hence, for companies and marketing professionals the configuration of web pages that conquer the Google algorithm and position themselves as best as possible is of great importance.
PageSpeed is a platform that helps us improve this positioning , at least that is what the theory says, but what is the truth behind it?
What is Google PageSpeed and what tools make it up?
Google PageSpeed is a compact but powerful set of tools that Google places at our disposal to analyze or optimize the performance and loading speed of our web pages . This group of solutions was unveiled publicly at the Google I / O conference in 2010 .
After some changes on the number of tools that compose it, today the two main ones are:
- PageSpeed Insights , used in the cloud.
- PageSpeed Module , run on-premise.
What is Google PageSpeed Insights?
Google PageSpeed Insights is the online tool in charge of analyzing the performance of web pages . In this analysis, the system produces two general types of results:
- On the one hand, there are those related to loading speed and performance itself.
- On the other hand, there are a series of recommendations that the platform makes so that we know where and how to optimize the website.
Specifically, the rules are:
- Avoid redirects to landing pages.
- Enable compression.
- Improve the response time of the servers.
- Take advantage of browser caching.
- Minify resources.
- Optimize images.
- Optimize CSS delivery.
- Prioritize visible content.
Lighthouse: the difference between the old PageSpeed Insights and the current one
In 2017, Google published its LightHouse tool , an extension for Google Chrome whose functionality is to analyze a web page based on its structure, loading speed and rendering.
Before long, LightHouse became part of PageSpeed Insights . With this integration, a before and after was marked in the capabilities of this last platform.
In the old PageSpeed we got some valuable metrics about the level of web optimization and the average load time ( FCP – FID ), as well as some tips to improve these variables. In this version, the scores and evaluations obtained from the analyzes varied on the following scale:
In the current PageSpeed Insights (integrated with LightHouse), the analysis variables increased, thus providing a much deeper understanding of our website. Now we not only have the average score and load metrics on mobile devices with Chrome (estimated average rating), but we also have all the rendering metrics that LightHouse gives us.
This new data is very important for us to understand how long it takes a visitor to consume the content on our website and how they do it.
In this new version of PageSpeed, the rating scale for the optimization level is as follows:
In this context, the main difference between the old and the new PageSpeed is that, even if we reach a score of 100, we will always continue to have a list of elements to consider to continue optimizing our website.
Current Google PageSpeed Insights result fields
Broadly, the factors that PageSpeed Insights contributes when analyzing a web page are classified into three categories:
- Opportunities : suggestions that can help our website load faster.
- Diagnostics : more detailed information about the performance of our application.
- Approved audits : list of elements that correctly comply with the PageSpeed Insights rules mentioned above.
We will not list all the subcategories that each element contains, since they can be many, but some examples are:
- “Eliminate the resources that block rendering”, in Opportunities .
- “User Timing measurements and marks – 7 user times”, in Diagnostics .
- “Avoid an excessive size of DOM – 200 elements”, in approved audits .
The interesting thing is that, for each of all the possible points, Google accompanies it with descriptions that help to better understand the problem to improve.
PageSpeed Mobile and PageSpeed Computer
PageSpeed Insights analyzes websites from both the mobile device and computer perspective . And it does so with the aim that we can know how optimized our website is at a mobile first level and if it is capable of providing a good user experience for those who visit it from their smartphones.
To achieve this, the platform makes a series of queries to the page simulating a mobile device and taking into account the parameters of this type of navigation.
PageSpeed Insights API
The PageSpeed Insights API fulfills both the functions we have already detailed (performance analysis and improvement recommendations) and a very interesting one that allows programmers to learn how to convert a standard web page into a progressive web application (PWA) .
PWAs are a higher level of web pages that behave as if they were mobile applications, thus taking advantage of the advantages of native apps but without the need to be downloaded or installed, since they can be accessed through any browser, like chrome.
Additionally, the PageSpeed Insights API provides data from both LightHouse and the Chrome User Experience Report (CrUX) .
- What is Google PageSpeed Module?
PageSpeed Module is the other component of Google PageSpeed , besides Insights. This consists of an open source library that can be deployed on Apache or Nginx servers , and whose functionalities are to automatically rewrite and optimize the resources of our website.
To achieve this automation, PageSpeed Module applies a series of filters designed in accordance with the PageSpeed Insights rules , which are called PageSpeed Filters . These run in predefined order, but can be enabled and disabled in the server configuration file.
Old Google PageSpeed components
In its beginnings, in addition to Insights and Module, Google PageSpeed also had two other components:
- PageSpeed Chrome Extension
- PageSpeed Service
PageSpeed Chrome Extension
Google PageSpeed Chrome Extension was an extension for the Chrome web browser. This allowed us to obtain a PageSpeed analysis right on each page we visited. However, Google discontinued the tool, focusing all its efforts on PageSpeed Insights for web page analytics.
Google PageSpeed Service was a commercial tool that automatically optimized and accelerated our pages. To achieve this, we only had to register in the service and point the DNS entry of our website to Google.
PageSpeed Service went live in 2011 . Despite doing very well for several years, Google decided to focus on open source PageSpeed products. Therefore, in May 2015 the future discontinuity of the service was announced and in August of that same year the definitive cessation of its provision was made.
Is it possible (or necessary) to achieve a perfect score in PageSpeed Insights?
Following PageSpeed prompts is usually a good idea , up to a point. You must be clear that the analysis variables of this tool are very strict and that they are not always in line with what a really optimized web page is.
Therefore, you should not be obsessed with its indicators, as this will lead to great frustration and, ironically, an over-optimization of your resources that in the end end up damaging your website.
An example of this is when PageSpeed Insights suggests you optimize CSS delivery . In an ideal world, your CSS would be minified and compressed to the maximum, and separated to show the essential styles (the critical assets) in the header and the rest in the footer. However, in the real world this is not possible, as you are surely using WordPress.
What’s wrong with using WordPress?
There’s nothing wrong. On the contrary, it is excellent !, but achieving 100 PageSpeed points in WordPress can be quite a difficult task considering that, when installing plugins, you will have everything: CSS files on your page that cannot be minified or styles that are inefficient , among others.
There are other times when, even though our page is “perfect” and may reach a score of 100, it is not possible to do so due to external factors. For example, if we have a low-budget server, it can give errors that have no solution, such as, for example, the slow response time of the server or time to first byte (TTFB) . In that case, we can always contact our server provider to see if it is possible to improve the TTFB or consider hiring a slightly better service.
Web speed test tools
To measure the loading speed and other optimization factors of web pages there are many other tools. Each with different characteristics, functions, variables and models of results.
As marketing professionals or web page developers, we may have a preference for any web speed testing platform , depending on whether one or the other seems to provide more reliable results or better optimization suggestions.
Some of the most popular speed test tools are :
- Test My Site
Google My Site test to measure the speed of mobile websites
Test My Site is another Google tool to measure online loading speed . It differs from PageSpeed in that the latter is responsible for analyzing individual pages.
In parallel, Test My Site is responsible for analyzing the entire website as a whole: https://www.jezweb.com.au . On the other hand, Test My Site only takes into account mobile browsing variables, not via computer. However, one of its most interesting aspects is that it allows us to compare our website with the websites of the competition.
GTmetrix for web speed test
GTmetrix is a commercial tool for performing web speed tests . Although in principle it can be used for free, it also has its paid version, which is more powerful and complete ( GTmetrix PRO ).
The functions GTmetrix are very versatile. This platform is characterized by a fairly visual and intuitive results panel, which allows, among others, to select time periods to analyze the historical record of the performance of our website. In addition, it is possible to configure alerts to be able to know when our website begins to decrease its performance.
Pingdom Website Speed Test
Pingdom Website Speed Test is another commercial tool to measure the speed of web pages that has its free version and several payment plans. It also provides highly visual, configurable, and detailed results. For example, Pingdom Website Speed Test allows us to know, among others:
- The sizes of the files.
- Your loading times.
- The elements that slow down the website.
- DNS lookups.
- The performance impact of all applied changes.
Our recommendation for your SEO positioning
The tools for measuring web speed and performance levels offer very valuable strategic data about our on-page SEO . However, SEO positioning depends to a greater extent on many other tremendously important factors, which range from the quality of your content to your link building strategies .
You certainly need to optimize the technical aspects of your website , but don’t worry so much about the indicators. A few more points or a few points less will not allow you to get more readers, more subscribers or more sales.
There are web pages with very low PageSpeed indexes and that, even so, appear in the first results of the SERPs. While there are other websites with scores of almost 100, and that of almost 100 is also their position in Google results.
However, I know that the temptation to achieve 100 points is great, and right now you will be worried about not being able to do it. So if you have any questions about the configuration of your site, Contact us today and We will be happy to solve it for you.