Page speed, or how quickly a webpage loads, is an important factor that can greatly impact user experience and search engine rankings. With the rise of mobile browsing, having a fast-loading website is more important than ever. More than half of mobile users will abandon a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. This is where Google Pagespeed Insights comes in.
In this detailed guide, we will walk you through the steps to achieve a perfect 100% score on Google Pagespeed Insights. Read on to learn how to optimize your website’s speed and improve user experience.
What is Google Pagespeed Insights?
Google Pagespeed Insights is a free tool developed by Google that measures the performance of a website on both desktop and mobile devices. It analyses factors such as page load time, speed index, and other important metrics to determine the overall performance of a website. These metrics are used to assign a score out of 100, with a higher score indicating better performance.
Businesses seeking to improve their website’s performance often seek web development services or superior web hosting services that use Google Pagespeed Insights as a benchmark. The complexities of optimizing a website for maximum performance can be daunting, but with the right approach and tools, it is achievable.
Why is it important to have a high score on Google Pagespeed Insights?
Having a high score on Google Pagespeed Insights can greatly benefit your website in many ways. Here are some reasons why it’s important:
- Insight into User Experience: At its core, Google Pagespeed Insights evaluates how quickly a website’s content loads and becomes interactive. A faster loading site means users can access the information or services they need without delay. In a digital era where users expect near-instant results, slow-loading websites can drive visitors away. Using PSI, businesses can pinpoint where their website speed falls short, ensuring that users have a seamless experience.
- Improved Search Engine Rankings: Google has made it clear: that website speed is a ranking factor. Sites that load faster are likely to rank higher in search results. This means more visibility and, by extension, more visitors. By regularly checking their PSI scores and acting on their recommendations, businesses can boost their organic search rankings, increasing their chances of attracting a larger audience.
- Enhanced Conversion Rates: It’s simple – a user frustrated by a slow-loading page might abandon a purchase or sign-up process. Businesses lose potential sales or leads. By optimizing website speed, based on PSI’s feedback, businesses can make the path to conversion as frictionless as possible, leading to increased sales and sign-ups.
- Informed Decision-making for Developers: Developers use PSI to get specific, actionable feedback on what’s slowing down a website. Instead of shooting in the dark, they can directly address issues, whether it’s uncompressed images, render-blocking scripts, or unoptimized code.
- Gaining a Competitive Edge: In industries where multiple businesses offer similar services or products, website performance can be a distinguishing factor. This is something any leading digital marketing company would attest to. A website that loads quickly and offers a smooth user experience can set a business apart from its competitors.
- Setting Performance Benchmarks: Marketers use PSI not just for their sites but to assess competitors. By understanding where competitors fall short, businesses can find opportunities to outperform and deliver a superior online experience.
Step-By-Step Guide to Scoring a Perfect 100% on Google Pagespeed Insights
Now that you understand the importance of having a high score on Google Pagespeed Insights, let’s dive into the steps you can take to achieve a perfect 100% score.
Step 1: Analyze your current website performance
To get started, visit Google Pagespeed Insights and enter your website’s URL. Click on “Analyze” and wait for the tool to evaluate your site’s performance. Once complete, you will be presented with a score out of 100 for both desktop and mobile devices.
You will find all recommendations under the “Opportunities” and “Diagnostics” sections of the report. This will provide you with a breakdown of the factors affecting your score and recommendations for improvement.
Step 2: Optimize Images
Images are often the main culprit for slowing down websites. Large and uncompressed images can significantly impact loading times. To optimize your images, follow these tips:
- Use the correct image format: JPEG for photographs and PNG for graphics.
- Compress images using tools like Adobe Photoshop or online tools like TinyPNG or Compressor.io.
- Resize images to the appropriate dimensions before uploading them to your website.
- Use lazy loading for images that are not visible on the initial screen.
Step 3: Minimize Render-Blocking Resources
- Combine multiple files into a single file to reduce the number of HTTP requests.
- Use asynchronous loading for non-critical scripts so that they do not block the rendering of the page.
Use tools like UglifyJS or YUI Compressor to minify and combine files. If you are using a CMS like WordPress, you can also use plugins like WP Rocket or W3 Total Cache to handle script optimization for you.
Step 4: Minimize Redirects
Redirects result in additional HTTP requests and can slow down your website. It’s best to avoid them when possible. You can check for redirects on your site using tools like:
- Ahref’s Site Audit
- Redirect Checkers
- Browser Extensions
- Google Analytics or Google Search Console.
If you find any redirects, try to eliminate them by replacing direct links or using permanent redirects (301) instead of temporary ones (302).
Step 5: Enable Browser Caching
Browser caching allows the browser to store resources from your website, such as images or CSS files, so that they do not have to be downloaded every time a user visits your site. This can significantly improve loading times for returning visitors. To enable browser caching, you can:
- Identify Web Server: Determine which web server you’re using (e.g., Apache, Nginx, IIS).
- Modify Configuration:
- For Apache: Use the .htaccess file to set Expires headers and Cache-Control directives.
- For Nginx: Modify the server block in the Nginx configuration file to include the expires directive.
- For IIS: Adjust the <staticContent> section in the web.config file to set cache policies.
- Static assets (like images): 1 year
- CSS & JS: 1 week to 1 month, depending on how often you update them.
- Test Configuration: After applying changes, visit your website and inspect the response headers using browser developer tools to ensure caching headers are set correctly.
- Re-run Google PageSpeed Insights: After changes, test your website on Google PageSpeed Insights to see improvements in the caching section and overall score.
Step 6: Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
CDNs are servers located in different geographic locations that store copies of your website’s files. By using a CDN, you can reduce the distance between your website and its visitors, resulting in faster loading times. Do the following to set up a CDN:
- Research & Choose a CDN: Select a reputable CDN provider based on your website’s needs and your target audience’s geographical distribution. Some popular ones include Cloudflare, Amazon CloudFront, and MaxCDN.
- Integrate with Your Website: Follow the CDN provider’s documentation to integrate the CDN with your website. This often involves updating DNS records.
- Configure CDN Settings: Optimize the settings for caching, compression, and other relevant features provided by the CDN.
- Optimize Your Content: Ensure your images, scripts, stylesheets, and other static assets are optimized for web delivery. This means compressing, minifying, and setting proper cache headers.
- Lazy Load Media: Implement lazy loading for images, videos, and scripts so that they’re only loaded when needed.
- Enable HTTPS: Ensure your CDN delivers content over HTTPS for security and performance benefits, as HTTP/3 and Brotli compression often require HTTPS.
- Test & Monitor: Continuously monitor the CDN’s performance, ensuring assets are being properly served from the closest edge servers to your users.
Step 7: Optimize Above-the-Fold Content
“Above-the-fold” refers to the portion of a webpage that is visible without scrolling. To optimize this content for faster loading:
- Prioritize above-the-fold content by loading it first.
- Use inline CSS for above-the-fold content to avoid render-blocking stylesheets.
- Limit the use of external resources, such as fonts or widgets, for above-the-fold elements.
- Use asynchronous loading for third-party scripts, so they do not delay the rendering of above-the-fold content.
- Avoid using web fonts if possible and use system fonts instead to reduce external resource requests.
However, if they are necessary for branding or design, ensure you:
- Limit the number of different fonts (and font weights).
- Use font-display properties for non-blocking rendering.
- Host fonts locally where possible.
Step 8: Check Mobile Usability
With more and more users accessing websites on their mobile devices, it’s essential to ensure that your website is also optimized for mobile. Google Pagespeed Insights provides a separate report for mobile usability, which includes suggestions on how to improve. Some steps you can take to enhance mobile usability include:
- Use responsive design to ensure that your website adapts to different screen sizes.
- Avoid using Flash or other unsupported technologies on mobile devices.
- Use high-resolution images, but optimize them for web delivery.
- Minimize the use of pop-ups and interstitials, as these can negatively impact user experience on mobile devices.
Step 9: Analyze Your Plugins or Third-Party Scripts
If you’re using a CMS like WordPress, you likely have several plugins installed on your website. Many businesses opt for professional WordPress website development services to ensure that their site’s plugins and themes are optimized for speed and functionality. Do the following to optimize your plugins:
- Delete Unused Plugins: Remove any unnecessary or unused plugins from your website.
- Update Outdated Plugins: Make sure all your plugins are up to date, as outdated versions can cause security risks and performance issues.
- Minimize Plugins: Try to limit the number of active plugins on your website. Each plugin adds additional code, scripts, and requests that can slow down your site.
- Use Lightweight Alternatives: Consider using lightweight alternatives for popular but resource-heavy plugins. For example, instead of using a full-page caching plugin, you can use a simpler and more efficient one like WP Super Cache.
- Optimize Scripts: If you’re using third-party scripts on your website, ensure they’re optimized for web delivery by minifying and compressing them.
- Monitor Performance Impact: Continuously monitor how each plugin affects your website’s performance and consider removing or replacing any that significantly impacts it.
Step 10: Use Google AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)
AMP is an open-source initiative by Google to create fast-loading web pages for mobile devices. By implementing AMP, you can significantly improve your website’s loading speed on mobile devices and potentially increase your search engine ranking. To use AMP:
- Do your research on the pros and cons of using AMP for your website and whether it aligns with your goals.
- Consult the official documentation to learn how to implement AMP on your website.
- Use a WordPress plugin like AMP for WP or AMP for WordPress to simplify the process of integrating AMP into your site.
- Continuously monitor performance metrics, such as loading speed and bounce rate on mobile devices, after implementing AMP.
Step 11: Regularly Monitor and Maintain
Optimizing your website’s performance is an ongoing process. As technology evolves, new methods and techniques for enhancing speed and user experience will emerge. To ensure your website continues to perform well, regularly monitor and maintain it by doing the following:
- Use tools like Google Analytics or Pingdom to track performance metrics.
- Continuously test on Google PageSpeed Insights to check for new suggestions and improvements.
- Stay informed about the latest web performance standards, trends, and best practices.
- Regularly update your website’s software, including CMS, plugins, themes, etc., to ensure they’re up-to-date and optimized.
A perfect score on Google Pagespeed Insights is not the ultimate goal. Instead, it’s about creating a fast and user-friendly website that provides an excellent experience for your visitors. The added bonus is that a well-optimized site can also positively impact your search engine ranking and overall online presence. By following these steps and staying knowledgeable about web performance, you can achieve a high score on Google Pagespeed Insights and continually improve your website’s speed and performance.