One thorn in every SEO’s side is Google’s PageSpeed Insights. Here’s a quick rundown of what it is:
- What it is: Checks all the things to see if there’s anything you can do to speed your site up. Creates an extremely detailed report broken down by category. It can be useful to see what shortcomings your site might have.
- What it is not: A measure of your site’s actual speed. The tool estimates how fast your site loads based on the score it gives.
Wait what speed did it say?
You heard that right: ESTIMATES! This is rather important when a client calls up saying their site is slow because they saw this report. I’ve seen 16 second load times estimated, but every measure I can find shows the site loading in under 2 seconds.
It’s easy to score high right?
Nope. I’ve rarely see a sites scoring over 90 on the test. If you’ve got a lot of cool whizbang stuff on your site like live chat, videos, etc. you can drive that number right down. Even adding Google Tag Manager can drop the performance score by 12 points. It’s so frustrating I decided to figure out what it takes to get a 100 on site performance.
It can’t be done!
Oh yes it can! I have a few hobby sites where I play around with html, css, scripts and the like. The one most stripped down and in need of a redesign was my fan site for Joe Strummer. After an overhaul and a slight redesign I was able to get that number up. Here are the things I had to do to my already hand-coded site:
- Embed CSS: Yup, instead of a <link> to the css file I had to drop it in right on the page.
- Remove Google Tags: Yup they marked me down for that too.
See for yourself.
You can go to PageSpeed Insights and see for yourself. I’ve got a perfect performance score for joestrummer.org. But take a look at it, I had to go real basic to make it work. Is that a realistic standard for most websites? I’ve got my score below in the images. The first one has the perfect score and the second one is if I add GTM with Google Tag for GA4.
Don’t use PageSpeed Insights?
Go ahead and use it, just be aware of its shortcomings. I use it for code issues and detecting if I’ve accidentally put an image that’s too big on the site.