Page speed is a priority for the overall user experience, and it’s also one of the hundreds of SEO ranking factors.
When someone lands on our site, we only have a few seconds to grab their attention and convince them to hang around and not bounce. Quality content and a good-looking design are important, but if our page loads slowly, we could lose people before they even get a chance to see our content.
According to Kissmetrics, nearly half of web users expect a site to load in two seconds or less, and they tend to abandon sites that don’t load within three seconds. A total of 79% of online shoppers who have trouble with site performance won’t return to the site to buy again and about 44% of them would tell a friends if they had a poor experience shopping online.
Fast page speed will give visitors confidence in our service
While site speed is one of more than 200 signals Google uses to determine search rankings, and fewer than 1% of search queries are affected by the site speed signal, it’s conversions that you need to worry about. A fast site will give your visitors confidence in your product or service and convince them to hand over their cash. So we head over to Google PageSpeed Insights, because that’s what all the articles tell us to do, and enter your URL. We’ll be presented with a grade and a list of recommendations from Google and at that point, we might be dismayed:
- What are all these red and orange warnings?
- Why isn’t my grade higher?
- What do all these recommendations mean?
After adding caching to our site, we might be expecting that our PageSpeed grade will be near-perfect. Or we’ll look at the recommendations and wonder why our caching plugin hasn’t fixed them all, automatically. A lot of customers ask us why their PageSpeed grade isn’t higher, or they assume that because it didn’t increase a lot, it must mean we are not making their site faster. The simple truth is this: “Your Google PageSpeed score does not matter!”
Page speed, the loading time of your site is the most important metric. This is what counts for user experience and for SEO. When the Google bot crawls your site, it cannot see your “grade”, only your speed.
Google PageSpeed does not actually measure the speed of your site
Google’s PageSpeed grade is not actually an indicator of speed. We like to use Pingdom Tools to measure the load time.
Chasing A Grade Is A Waste of Time
No site gets a perfect grade, in fact it’s pretty much impossible to achieve, and since it doesn’t correlate to speed, why bother? If we try an attain a perfect grade, by implementing all the suggestions Google PageSpeed makes, we will lose our sanity pretty quickly.
We cannot take too literally all of the suggestions from Google PageSpeed because sometimes they are unrealistic or impossible. For example, it may tell us to minify or add expiry headers to a file that is not hosted on our website. This is impossible, for example, only Facebook and Google themselves can add browser caching to these files.
What is page speed good for?
Google PageSpeed can be helpful as long as we don’t treat it as the be-all, end-all. Sometimes it can alert us to problem areas on our site that we can address. For example, it might alert us to the fact that our content is not being GZIP-ed. We add the rules for GZIP by default so if PageSpeed gives us a warning, this might be a sign our server does not have it activated. Or it might alert us that we have too many large images which could be compressed.
This is a good recommendation which we can actually act on. So it’s best to look at PageSpeed as one of several tools in our arsenal that might provide some pointers, but our goal should always be to improve our actual speed, not our “PageSpeed” grade.
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