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How to Improve Your Google PageSpeed Insights Score in 2021

By the words of Google, speed equals revenue. If you have a slow-loading site, visitors will bounce faster than you can say “conversions.” The speed of your website will...

Josh Evora
Josh Evora October 12, 2021

By the words of Google, speed equals revenue. If you have a slow-loading site, visitors will bounce faster than you can say “conversions.”

The speed of your website will have a direct impact on your SEO and conversion rates. After all, a sluggish website increases the likelihood of people bouncing from your page. In fact, Google’s 2017 industry benchmarks report for mobile page speed reveals that the probability of it happening can go up to 123% as your page loads between one to ten seconds.

Just like the popular Electronic Arts video game series, there’s an urgent Need for Speed on your website.

Thankfully, Google has made our lives much easier with its PageSpeed Insights tool. 

What is Google PageSpeed Insights?

If you’re new to digital marketing, you’re probably asking yourself: what is Google PageSpeed Insights?

In simple terms, it’s a tool that analyzes the performance of a page on both desktop and mobile, and makes suggestions on how you can make the page load faster.

Google PageSpeed Insights will assess your site’s raw performance metrics and give it a score between 1 to 100 to summarize its overall performance. A score of 90 or above is considered good. Meanwhile, 50 to 90 is a score that needs improvement, and anything below 50 is considered poor.

Why You Shouldn’t Aim for a Perfect Score

Let’s say your site has already achieved a reasonably high PageSpeed Insights score above 90, and your site visitors are enjoying the benefits of your site’s seamless performance. Should you still aim for that sweet 100?

You guessed it: the answer is no. Hitting a certain number isn’t the goal here — rather, it’s about delivering a good overall UX. So make sure you don’t end up focusing too much on page speed that you end up compromising form and function.

Besides, even though the tool lists opportunities and provides diagnostics reports, they don’t necessarily contribute to its performance score. It doesn’t provide the full picture and isn’t the yardstick to truly measure loading time of your site by. 

Still, it provides actionable insights on how to improve overall page speed, making it a must-use digital marketing tool for SMEs.

Why Does Page Speed Matter?

Customers expect your website to load quickly — it’s as simple as that. After all, nobody likes to be kept waiting when searching for the solution to their problem.

But on top of that, page speed is a crucial factor in making your website rank higher on the SERPs. You’ll be surprised to know that the average site takes 10.3 seconds to load on desktop and 27.3 seconds on mobile. That’s according to an analysis of 5.3 desktop and mobile pages by Backlinko

If the data teaches us anything, it’s that we should be optimizing our page speeds more.

What’s the Difference between Page Speed & Load Time?

Even though they’re sometimes used interchangeably, page speed and load time are completely different things.

Page Speed

Page speed measures how quickly the content your website loads. It’s important to UX because pages that load longer tend to have a higher bounce rate and lower average time on page. In turn, this could have a negative impact on conversions.

Load Time

Load time tells you how long it takes to display webpage content on a user’s browser after they click on your site. This includes everything like images, scripts, CSS, and other third-party resources.

What Causes Page Speed Delays?

You might have heard of the adage, “slow and steady wins the race,” but that nugget of wisdom doesn’t apply to page speed and performance.

A slow-loading website can be a recipe for disaster. That said, what factors contribute to your site loading at a snail’s pace? Let’s take a closer look.

How To Use Google PageSpeed Insights

To get started, follow these steps:

  1. Visit the Google PageSpeed Insights page
  2. Enter your URL
  3. Click “Analyze”

After a few seconds, the tool will generate a report that shows the overall Google PageSpeed Insights score of your site, along with some recommendations. Here’s what it’ll look like:

Screenshot from Google PageSpeed Insights

The report is divided into several sections, and it provides an overview of field data, lab data, and Core Web Vitals. It can be a lot to take in, but you don’t actually need to understand every single section of the report.

Instead, you can scroll down and go straight to the opportunities section because it provides tangible recommendations on how you can improve site performance. 

Screenshot from Google PageSpeed Insights

Consider the example above. The tool tells us that the Google home page could shave its load time by nearly 25 seconds by reducing unused Javascript elements. 

How Can I Improve My Google PageSpeed Insights Score?

Now that we understand how to use PageSpeed Insights, it’s time to put it into action. Below we’ve provided a list of some best practices to improve your overall score.

Optimize Images

Poorly optimized images are the biggest reason why pages have a slow load time. Images tend to be large image files, and they could slow down your site speed and discourage leads from staying on your site.

Using high-quality images is by no means wrong, but you don’t have to use the highest resolution available. In fact, a great way to improve page speed is by compressing your images. 

If you use a WordPress site, you can use the WP Smush plug-in which scans your media library and automatically detect images it can compress. A lot of its features are available for free. Meanwhile, if you run a Shopify-based store, you can use the Crush.pics image compressor to optimize your site. 

If you’re aren’t a fan of plug-ins, other tools you can use are JPEG Optimizer, Optimizilla, and Kraken.io

Implement AMP

AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages. It’s an open-source HTML framework that optimizes mobile web browsing. It works by stripping unnecessary content so your pages can load almost instantly on mobile. 

Here’s what it looks like when you click on an AMP article:

Screenshot taken from WP Engine

When browsing, you’ll get a simplified version of the website so you can scroll between different news articles without leaving the webpage you’re on.

AMP streamlines UX because it loads content quickly and eliminates the need to go back and forth between articles when browsing. That takes away the time spent returning to the SERPs and waiting for the next site to load.

But how do you start using AMP?

If you have some know-how in HTML, you can check out the AMP tutorial on how to create your first AMP page. Or you could install the AMP for WP plug-in to make your life much easier.

Minimize Redirect Links

Minimizing redirects from one URL can cut wait time for your users significantly. But as you make changes to your site and move and delete pages, creating redirect links will be inevitable.

The consequences could be costly, however. Consider this: each time a user has to be redirected to another site, it halts the rendering process and adds precious seconds to your page load time. Too many redirect links will slow down your page speed, hurting your overall conversion rate.

So remove any unnecessary redirect links and make sure your page has a responsive web design.

Enable Browser Caching

Browser caching works by “remembering” the previous resources on your site so it doesn’t have to reload them every time someone visits your site. By enabling this process, you can quickly serve a static version of your site to visitors, and it can significantly shave valuable milliseconds from your page speed time. 

On the bright side, you don’t have to be a coding expert to implement browser caching. If you use a WordPress site, consider installing the W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache plug-ins. If you’re not on WordPress, you have the option to set up browser caching manually instead.

Minify Code

The term “minify” is programmer’s lingo, and it describes the process of removing unnecessary data that could affect how browsers process resources.

Consider removing these unnecessary characters, spaces, and duplicates to make your site faster and smarter. We suggest that you minify the code on the backend of your website, such as its CSS, JavaScript, and HTML components. 

JavaScript Minifier, CSS Minifier, HTML Compressor are some awesome free tools available so you won’t have to worry about minifying code by yourself. 

Start Boosting Your Page Speed Today

Google PageSpeed Insights is a must-have in your webmaster toolbox. After all, it doesn’t just tell you how to improve page speed: it carries far-reaching effects and provides direction on how you can boost your conversion rates, as well. By using this tool, you can focus on improving UX, no matter what device your target audience is using.

If you need more help improving your website performance, get in touch with Growth Rocket today.

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