Google PageSpeed Insights: how to improve your score

Google PageSpeed Insights is one of the many tools that the search engine provides to webmasters and SEO experts. But what exactly is its purpose?

In short, this tool allows you to monitor one of the most important metrics of a website, loading speed.

According to various studies, a fast page is one of the essential elements to reduce the bounce rate. Additionally, this indicator is one of Google’s ranking factors.

That’s why it’s necessary to ensure a swift loading of a site’s pages. Continuing with the reading, you will find all the information on how to make a website load quickly.

In particular, you will read about:

  • The definition of Google PageSpeed Insights and how it works.
  • How to improve your Google PageSpeed score?

Overlooking this data can have negative effects on Search Engine Optimization, user experience, and therefore, the conversion rate.

That’s why I recommend an SEO Specialist Course and WordPress for Blogging and SEO Copywriting Course where you can learn techniques and strategies to position a site on the web and make sure that it performs well.

What is Google PageSpeed Insights?

As mentioned earlier, the PageSpeed by Google tool allows you to understand which factors slow down the loading time of your website pages.

So, analyzing them with a reliable tool allows you to improve your web performance. But before going into detail, I’ll explain what Google PageSpeed Insight is.

Using technical language, Google PageSpeed Insights is an API, an acronym for an application programming interface.

Essentially, it is a set of instructions and commands given to the computer in a programming language and accessible remotely.

In simple terms, this allows you to use the Google PageSpeed Tool easily and quickly. Just go to the official Google PageSpeed Insight website, enter your site’s URL, and start the test.

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How does Google PageSpeed Insights work?

To understand the functioning of the Google PageSpeed Test, it is important to understand how to interpret the scores provided by the tool.

Once you’ve entered the URL of the page you want to analyze, you’ll need to wait a few seconds as Google PageSpeed checks the code.

As soon as the test is complete, you’ll be provided with a comprehensive report with various scores. These scores range from 1 to 100, and the first among them is related to the page’s loading speed.

The generic value expressed in percentages indicating the page speed for the user is classified as:

  • A value below 50 (slow)
  • A score between 50 and 89 (requires interventions for improvements)
  • Result from 90 to 100 (good)

PageSpeed scores are calculated by comparing different data sources. In the report, the results are divided into three sections:

  • Real-world data
  • “Lab” data
  • Site evaluation and suggestions

To better understand the scores provided by Google, it is necessary to delve into what these data consist of and how they influence the site’s performance.

 

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Real-World data

When referring to real-world data, it means the first part of the report provided by Google PageSpeed Insights.

These values are extracted using a tool called Chrome User Experience Report (abbreviated as CrUX), which measures your site’s performance over the last thirty days and compares it to the average of pages analyzed by Google.

To quickly understand the page score, different values are highlighted with a color and symbol:

  • Red triangle: indicates a slow parameter;
  • Orange circle: the value is average;
  • Green circle: the result indicates speed.

To calculate the speed score of a site on Google PageSpeed, the following factors are taken into account:

  • FCP (First Contentful Paint): measures the time between the user opening the page and the appearance of the first content on the visitor’s screen. This is an extremely important parameter because the appearance of text, an image, or even just a background confirms to the user that the page is loading;
  • FID (First Input Delay): deals with when the user has already viewed a site’s content. Both are fundamental data for analyzing your website’s performance, which is why they deserve to be explored for a complete understanding of the report provided by PageSpeed.

google pagespeed insights extension 

FCP allows users to see the content they are looking for, and therefore, the less time needed for loading, the lower the bounce rate for your site will be.

According to Google PageSpeed Insights, a fast website has an FCP (First Contentful Paint) of less than 1,000 milliseconds (i.e., one second).

Performance that exceeds 2,500 ms is considered average, while above such a figure, the site is classified as slow.

The PageSpeed test provides two pieces of data:

  • The number of users with fast, average, or slow performance, coded with the aforementioned colors;
  • The average of users ranks in the ninetieth percentile for speed.

If FCP measures the page loading time, FID (First Input Delay) deals with when the user has already viewed the site’s content.

This parameter measures the time between a visitor’s input and the browser’s response. For example, it could monitor the time between clicking on a link and the activation of that link by the site.

In essence, Google PageSpeed Insights measures how responsive your page is. In this case, the times must be extremely fast.

A fast rating requires an FID of less than 50 ms, once the user clicks somewhere on your page, the site must be quick to respond. To stay on the average, FID must remain below 250 ms, while any value higher is classified as slow.

As with FCP, in the report, you will see a colored bar with percentages of fast, average, and slow users, and the precise data of a certain group.

In this case, however, it refers to the ninety-fifth position. FID is so crucial that the parameter used must be stricter.

On average, if both parameters are fast, the page is fast as well. If at least one of them is slow, it will negatively impact the overall rating. In all other cases, the site is judged as average.

To provide information on FCP and FID, Google PageSpeed Insights needs a certain amount of data. If your site has a very low traffic volume, you might see an error message.

This simply means that there are not enough visitors to obtain statistically significant data, in such cases, you can rely on laboratory data.

Laboratory data

After examining your site’s traffic, Google PageSpeed Insights uses another powerful tool to check its speed, Lighthouse. In this section, you will find a series of data based on a simulation of loading your page.

Specifically, the following parameters will be measured and displayed:

  • The FCP;
  • The FMP (First Meaningful Paint), is the moment when the page loads and displays the main content. For example, the text of a blog article;
  • The Speed Index is a metric representing the loading speed of various content;
  • The TIT (Time to Interactive), is the time it takes for the page to respond to user input, even without being fully loaded;
  • The First CPU Interactive, is the moment when the page has finished loading and is minimally active. This is an important metric because it shows how quickly the page is ready to instantly execute visitor inputs;
  • The Estimated Input Latency, is a fundamental parameter measuring the time between user input and the page’s command execution. If the parameter goes above 100 ms, the visitor will perceive a pause and sense that the site is slow.

Just as with real-world data, Google PageSpeed Insights uses red, orange, and green colors to provide an at-a-glance indication of the page speed.

Google PageSpeed site evaluation and recommendations

The last part of the report consists of checks, which are considerations and recommendations to optimize your site’s speed.

optimizing site speed

Google PageSpeed performs another breakdown where it lists:

  • Opportunities: it provides advice on improving the site’s speed. For example, you may need to reduce image sizes or make changes to the page code. I recommend reviewing this part of the report with a programmer, as the instructions can be quite technical;
  • Diagnostics: here you’ll find additional information comparing the page to a set of best practices for programmers;
  • Passed Audits: it informs about which tests the page has passed.

How to improve your PageSpeed score

Once you’ve analyzed your site with Google PageSpeed Insights, if you’re not satisfied with the score you’ve obtained, below are some simple tips that can help speed up the loading of your pages.

In general, the best practices below are suitable for addressing the most common issues, bringing significant improvements in optimizing your website.

Image optimization

Optimizing images is crucial, as improperly sized, heavy, and unsuitable file extensions can significantly slow down page loading.

When uploading images to the site, remember to check:

  • The pixel size of the image;
  • The display size is compared to the actual file size;
  • The weight of the image stays below 70kb;
  • The format type, preferably using web formats like WebP, JPG, or PNG.

 

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Server response time

Choosing the server to host your site should not be done randomly. A good server service with a responsive response greatly influences your LCP scores, so I recommend carefully evaluating the best host for your needs.

Avoid using too many redirects

Excessive use of redirects can slow down the loading speed of your pages, as the browser is forced to add HTTP requests. Google’s PSI Tool, in this specific case, will notify you of the problem in the Diagnostic section.

Use browser cache

Storing in the browser cache can be a valuable advantage as it will not be necessary to reload the page from scratch every time a visitor opens it.

If you use WordPress for your site, the process is very simple, use one of the many free plugins available. If you don’t have the basics but want to learn how to use it, I recommend our WordPress Course.

Conclusion

Keep in mind that, due to real-world variables, actual data may show different results from laboratory ones. For example, if your average audience connects from rather old computers, the actual data will be worse than those simulated by the Google API.

As an alternative to Google PageSpeed Insight, you can also consider other tools to test your site’s speed, you can find numerous more or less effective ones online.

Among these, I recommend GTmetrix and Pingdom. Having said that, the speed of a page or site is an essential parameter to be appreciated by users.

Google PageSpeed Insights can help you understand where your site needs improvement and how to ensure the best possible experience for your users.

If you want to learn more about how to improve the user experience on your site, ensuring fast content loading, request a free consultation.

Let’s optimize your loading time for success. Contact us now for expert advice on Google PageSpeed Insights improvements

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