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PageSpeed Insights: The Component That Most Website Owners Miss and Wonder Why They Rank Low in Google

Google PageSpeed Insights
© Diego Velázquez from Pixabay

Ivan Popov is a WordPress Developer since 2009 and has led numerous technical teams. He is the founder of Vipe Studio and is sharing his recent experience with Google PageSpeed Insights.

 “You need to improve your PageSpeed Score.” This is what 99% of the time, website owners are told by the SEO guys and agencies. And if the owner doesn’t do anything about that, they use this as an excuse in case they hadn’t achieved the originally-promised results after the first contracted period. Scenario 2: developers saying “PageSpeed Insights doesn’t matter and you shouldn’t care about it if your website is generally fast.” The end result in both cases is anyway the same – low ranking in Google, or at least lower than it could have been by now. 

In a nutshell, the truth is that PageSpeed Score does matter. A lot. Here’s what I’ve learned in 11 years of WordPress development and try to spread to as many professionals – both digital marketers and developers, but of course, not least to website owners who have been struggling with their low Google ranking. 

Quick site doesn’t mean good Speed Score

1. SEO as a factor

I presume you are all familiar with how important is SEO nowadays. Organic search-engine reach is the unbreakable bond between a good product and a good knowledge of the product among the potential customers. It is a critical component and it won’t be over-exaggerated if we say it is the most important part of your marketing strategy.

Considering the search engine world, we all know the name of the MVP – Google. The company owns above 75% of the overall search market and whether you like it or not you have to follow its own rules and good practices in order to be successful in having clients finding you.

2. Google PageSpeed Insights – what is?

Having this in mind, I presume most of you have faced Google PageSpeed Insights – a tool developed by Google, which nature and name suggest it analyzes and tests your website speed. PageSpeed Insights (PSI) reports on the performance of a page on both mobile and desktop devices and provides suggestions on how that page may be improved.

Surprisingly or not, the majority of websites will give a poor score on the GPSI tester if the website has never been built with the idea of chasing the score. Even if your website is obviously quick, you may still receive a bad score. How important is that? Does the Google PageSpeed Insights score your website receives play any role in your domain name ranking?

3. The majority of experts say don’t care – but you have to!

Unfortunately, most of the articles on the Internet, and also the majority of professional service providers, still claim that your score on PageSpeed Insights doesn’t matter and you shouldn’t care about it if your website is generally fast. This is NOT true – PageSpeed score is a key factor in forming your Google ranking, and it has been confirmed by Google back in 2018.

If your developers or webmasters claim that you shouldn’t pay attention to your Google PageSpeed Insights score, then they are probably badly educated or lazy to start working on it or in the worst scenario not able to do it.

Most of the time the developers are afraid of losing you as a client, that is why they will rarely openly say this is a new area for them. The role of the website owner is to show understanding of the fact this is a regularly new factor in website development in advance. The developers may feel more comfortable and in it is more likely to promise research on the topic.  

Technology and the engine matter more than we thought

1. Speed is no longer the only factor, it is the engine built

Not so long ago all that counted as important was to provide a fast website. Let’s settle the difference – the pure site speed is NOT what Google PageSpeed Insights is checking. 

Imagine it this way – Google prefers cars whose engine is built after following a special list of requirements rather than just favouriting a car with a high top speed. 

What Google PageSpeed Insights is doing is checking how well your website is following the list with requirements and finally give it a score based on that. What makes it even harder is that Google is scoring your website both on its mobile usability and its desktop version. And both of the grades are given after following its own list of scoring factors.

So if we stick to our car factory examples – Google prefers a car, that follows the ultimate theory about building engines both in its city and highway regime, rather than just a car with a lot of horsepowers. 

2. Google prefers… Google!

I guess it is no wonder for most of us that one of the grade factors that Google PageSpeed Insights puts in its own grading system is using technologies, owned by… Google.

Google highly recommends serving your photos in their own file format for images – the webp . WebP is a modern image format that provides superior lossless and lossy compression for images on the web.

Let’s be honest – we live in the era of 1TB Internet speed, therefore no real speed difference will occur if you replace all of your jpg and png images with webp converted versions. However, Google will give you a better grade, just for using their own file type. 

It is still risky though, as there are still some browsers that don’t fully support the webp type. That challenges the developers to add an additional fallback script and serve the original jpg/png image for the visitors, whose browsers don’t serve webp.

3. You are part of the Google ecosystem

It is really important to understand that every website is a part of the Google ecosystem – no matter if we like it or not. A website owner can’t simply say “I am not interested in what Google says or wants” – yes you are and yes, you have to be.

How ethical it is Google to rank on criteria of how much you follow their own good practices regarding building websites is not a topic of this article – I am not here to judge or give etiquettes. The main idea is that we need to understand how important this really is. 

If you want to gain success and build or capture your momentum of a good product and marketing investment, your website needs to be both fast and satisfying the Google PageSpeed Insights scoring system. 

The needs and the issues caused by Google PageSpeed Insights

1. Mass Impact

Following a good score on the GPSI system is becoming more popular among the website owners. People are understanding its importance more than ever and it is affecting both the owners of small websites and big web systems.

The topic is being discussed on popular Facebook groups as well, related to web development like WordPress България (WordPress Bulgaria), WordPress Workforce, Web Design and Development, and others.

Another proof that the problem is getting popular is that the majority of opinion leaders in the web development world are starting to include the topic in their webinars, vlogs, and lectures. 

Last, but not least, the most popular read on my company website blog for April, May and June 2020 is regarding a practical guide on how to improve your score on Google.

It is important to remember that this is an area still in development, so my advice is to choose your sources carefully and remember that the best approach is always to learn, observe, apply.

2. This affects every website on the Internet – not only WordPress systems

Another issue that the webmasters and website owners face is that they have incorrectly set expectations. I speak in the position of a CEO of a WordPress company and despite 37% of all the websites on the Internet are built on WordPress, we need to understand that Google PageSpeed Insights is designed to score EVERY single website on the web. 

You can’t simply install a plugin and expect your website will have the perfect score on the grading system. This checker is also testing enormous websites, built by huge teams of web magicians.

You can’t simply add a cool paint on your city car and expect its the engine to be ranked among the Fast and Furious class, right? 

It is important for the website owners to set their expectations correctly and decide how much they are ready to invest in following the score. It is about tuning your car under the hood and not only the paint. 

3. Marketers are often using GPSI as an excuse

Have you ever worked with a SEO company? In my observation, most of them are starting with a six months contract wherein in the beginning they give you a list of factors and advises you need to fix, change, or create on your website. 

In 99% of the times, the SEO guys will also say you need to improve your PageSpeed Score. So if you didn’t do anything about that, you didn’t have to be surprised if they use this as an excuse if they hadn’t achieved the originally-promised results after the first contracted period.

Of course, the lack of improved SEO ranking may be caused by many other reasons, but you can never be sure. So my advice is to make sure your website is technically prepared to capture the SEO company efforts.

Websites should be built with the idea of following the score

The first step of realizing how important is to follow a good GPSI score is understanding this is not a magic trick or an overnight fix.

The website needs to be built with the idea of chasing the high score – it requires reduced resource usage, prevention of code surplus, and great servers.

Do not trust or follow cliches – GPSI does matter and you have to put your attention to it in order to be successful. Don’t rely on simply installing plugins or neglect the bad results. Invest in a new web built, designed for maximum grades. 

PageSpeed score, actual website speed, site content, and user-intuitive designing should all come together, making the perfect symbiosis between each other with the only ultimate idea to give your website users the perfect web experience.

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