Google may dominate the online world, but their PageSpeed tool is worthless for measuring speed. Because of this, it’s rarely worth worrying if your Google PageSpeed does not improve.
Did you know it doesn’t even measure the loading time of your site? Yeah…
Feel confused yet? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Speed matters. When it comes to UX and SEO, nothing matters more. How fast your website loads can make or break your website’s impact. C’mon, I know I’m not the only one who got impatient after 3-seconds and went to find another website…
Here’s the thing, though: Neither Google Bots or humans care about the “grade” of your site. They care about how fast it loads. And, again, Google PageSpeed doesn’t measure that.
So, What DOES Google PageSpeed Do?
Websites only rarely achieve a perfect PageSpeed score. Not only is it a difficult and often unrealistic undertaking, there are times when it’s downright impossible! With that in mind, you should take its suggestions as just that, suggestions.
In their defense, sometimes the tool alerts you to issues you should address.
- You don’t have compression enabled
- You have a lot of large image files
- Your server response time is slow
- You aren’t leveraging browser caching
Remember, it’s a tool for suggesting how to optimize your site. It’s not actually measuring the speed. While it can serve as a solid optimization checklist, you shouldn’t fret it beyond that.
Instead, use tools that actually measure your website’s speed. Then make improvements.
How to ACTUALLY Measure Website Speed
More often than not, real life experience is the best indicator. And if the above exasperation runs through your mind while loading your website, you need a strong dose of speed optimization.
But if Google PageSpeed can’t help, who can?
It’s a lot simpler than it may have seemed up until this point. Once you notice something is a bit off with your speed, all you need to do is find the right tool.
(Side Note: It’s important to check your website on desktop and mobile regularly, especially if you don’t have a dedicated website manager. If you notice any problems, implement the practices found in the remainder of this post.)
Use Pingdom to Measuring Website Load Time
To officially measure website load time, use Pingdom. Across the board, it’d the best, most reliable tool for gauging speed.
Here’s the summary when I run my site through the tool:
Below the summary you’ll see specific Performance Insights, along with detailed recommendations:
The report goes even more detailed, giving information about things like:
- Response Codes
- Content Size by Type
- Requests by Content Type
- Content Size by Domain
- Requests by Domain
- File Requests
You’ll unlock tons of action items with everything you can glean from this tool. Once you’ve applied the tactics it uncovers, make sure to run the test again and see the increase!
Test Different Pages of Your Website
Many people only test their homepage. This approach poses a couple of issues, which is why you need to test several different pages for an accurate view of your speed.
1. Homepage Content Length: Your homepage typically has a lot more content than a regular page or post. This may report a lower speed, while the rest of your site runs well.
2. User Experience: Google and social media posts often bring users to blog posts or landing pages, not just the homepage. Test important pages to ensure consistent speed everywhere.
Remember, all this testing and measuring is for one person: your visitor. Test the site like they’ll use it (i.e. several different pages, browsers and devices) to gain a more well-rounded understanding of your site’s speed.
Focus on What You Can Control – Not an Arbitrary Grade
Running your website through Google PageSpeed and Pingdom should give you a strong starting point. However, that’s not always the entire picture.
I sourced some experts to help us with this section of the post.
In it you’ll find 5 optimization tips that will keep your website blazing fast. I’ve also incorporated some suggested tools with each section to help you on your journey.
1. Large Images
“Large images or uncompressed images I was uploading images that were too large, some over 4mb per picture. Now before I upload images, I’ll resize those images to a wide of 640px. That will bring the size of the images down to less than 100kbs. Another tip is to save images as JPEGs, It’s a compressed format which slightly reduces image quality, but it’s significantly smaller.”
– Aaron Lee, Agorapulse
Recommended Tool: WP Smush
2. Bloated Themes
“Many out-of-the-box themes today try too hard to include all the bells and whistles, most of which have little to no impact on conversion rate, SEO, and site performance. Examples would be carousels, sliders, and fancy design elements that users really don’t care about, and worse, may actually distract a buyer or potential lead.”
– Steve Wiideman, Wiideman
Recommended Tool: SEO WP Theme
3. Shared Hosting
“This is the fundamental step to fast loading sites. Even if you’re on a budget you can properly optimize your hosting so it’s optimized for WordPress to run fast. Having said this… if you’re on shared hosting and hoping to get the same speeds as a dedicated server, you’re dreaming. If you’re on a dedicated server you can optimize the hosting for EXACTLY the settings your site needs which is going to give the BIGGEST improvement to your WordPress speeds.”
– David Krauter, Websites That Sell
Recommended Tool: WP Engine
4. Use a CDN
“Aside from the security it provides a faster load time for your website specially for mobile sites is important as most users can be found through mobile. (Hint: I’d rather optimize for speed in mobile than desktop nowadays.)”
– Floyd Buenavente, Marketing Manila
Recommended Tool: CloudFlare
5. Use GZIP Compression
“The key to faster loading sites starts with compressing the code. Just as zip files provided a way to compress images, pdfs, and other file types to allow for easier transmissions; gzip compression has a similar effect for web browsers and servers. For modern WordPress sites, there is simply no good reason to not use gzip compression.”
– Wes Marsh, On Target Web Solutions
Recommended Tool: WP Rocket
So, faithful readers, no need to worry if your Google PageSpeed does not improve.
As you can see from this post, there are a slew of other WordPress speed factors that should take preeminence. Sure, these indicators may fail to give you a pretty little letter grade, but your website visitors will appreciate you focusing on the things that matter.
WordPress is a tricky beast sometimes. If you’re struggling to grasp the fullness of its power, contact us about our website management services.