Understanding Google PageSpeed Insights

What is PageSpeed Insights and how to use it

Google PageSpeed Insights Test Results
Google PageSpeed Insights is a tool that helps website developers optimize webpage loading speed by analyzing website HTML webpages and embedded elements, then generating specific suggestions to make the webpages load faster. This tool can also be helpful to find mobile compliance problems thus allowing the website to then pass the Google Mobile-Friendly Test.
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Important point about mobile ranking
Google does not rank a website higher if it's *more* mobile friendly then another website. Mobile compliance is not ranked on a scale. According to Google, your site is either mobile friendly, or not. Mobile search ranking is then dictated by page text content, backlinks from other sites and other SEO ranking criteria.

Testing at PageSpeed Insights
Go to Google PageSpeed Insights and enter your website URL. Details for each section of the test results you generate are outlined below on this page.

Note: Getting the highest marks possible on every test is desirable, but may have little or no effect on your website SEO and ranking. This test is used to test the speed your webpages are loading in browsers and can assist in finding problems that may be preventing your website from passing the Google Mobile Friendly test.

Website load speed is a very slight SEO factor. Reducing page speed, by for example, 10 to 20 percent, or even 50 or more percent, may have no effect on your rankings. However, a faster loading website can help generate more leads and give your site a lower bounce rate. Additionally, users are likely to check out more areas at your website if the pages load quickly.

Understanding the GPI test results
After you test at Google PageSpeed Insights you'll see a number of "fix" and "consider fixing" suggestions, however, the important numbers are the summation for "User Experience" at the bottom. If this number is greater than 90 you are doing extremely well, and scores as low as 70 can still pass the Google Mobile Friendly test. Here is a breakdown of the "fix" issues.

  • Note: Be aware that PageSpeed insights is only a tool to help you make your website more mobile friendly, mostly by improving load speed. It's not an SEO gauge, and even low scores in the test may have little, or no SEO impact. See "Bottom Line" at the end of this section.

  • Eliminate render-blocking JavaScript: This fix is referring to the .css file and .js file "includes" in the header and body sections of your webpages. This is of minor concern unless you have 20 or more "includes" on a single webpage.

    If you would like to address this issue, see PageSpeed Server Module and also review the third party article Score 100/100 at Google PageSpeed Insights.

  • Leverage browser caching: This fix concerns a server side script rather than anything you can edit in the webpages. You will want to contact your hosting company for a solution to this item.

  • Minify & enable compression: To "minify" your css, HTML and js files means to remove all the spaces, breaks and tabs. Minifying makes these files then very difficult to edit later as plain text. Compression indicates that you should use a gzip type utility through your server and compress the website files (html, .js, .css). These two fixes are best done using server side scripts that minify and compress automatically as you upload. If you are editing your website files directly on your site you may not want to minify them.

    See also: Website Planet JS & CSS Minifier

  • Optimize images: This deals mostly with image quality save options and using "save for web" in your graphics software. Edit your images to the exact size used on the HTML pages and save them at a lower quality. This is not a big concern in most cases unless you have a large number of images, or very large images per page. You can optionally remove some images, or hide them on mobile using Media Queries css code.

    You can compress your images. For a program to automatically compress images directly on your website, search for "lossless compression utility" at Google or Yahoo! Your images will lose some quality using a utility of this type.

  • Size tap targets: This indicates buttons, links, linked images and icons that are clickable. Optionally, make these page elements larger and add more white space around them. In some cases this may compromise the webpage layout. Optionally remove, or hide these elements using Media Queries css.

  • The Bottom Line: Although you can try to get a 100/100 at PageSpeed insights, you'll want to ask yourself if it's really worth the time. A high "User Experience" rating is all you really need. Trying to get a 100/100 rating rather than being content with anywhere from a 90 to 99 out of 100 grade may take up time that could be better spent on improving your website SEO with new content, or finding more quality backlinks. For an optimal SEO rating, your website just needs to pass the Google Mobile-Friendly Test. A higher Insights grade will not improve your mobile search listing.

    PageSpeed Insights results are only rating your webpage loading speed, and this test is not an SEO checker, nor does it indicate how well your mobile SEO is setup. It's a common misconception that a website will list better because it's "more" mobile compatible than another site. Your website will either pass the Google Friendly test, or it will not. Google does not grade for an amount of mobile compliance.

    If websites listed better just because they were more mobile friendly, then websites with no images and a single paragraph of large text would always be the top search result.

  • Check your competition: Before you try to get your website a 100/100 rating, you might want to test a few of your competitor's sites in the Google checkers to see how they rate. In most cases, other sites will be ranking higher because of their page content and number of quality backlinks rather than because of higher mobile compliance or faster page loading speeds.

Updating older websites
For existing websites that need to be updated for mobile friendliness, see the following:

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