Jeremy Smith Apr 25, 2019 11:49:54 AM 6 min read

Using Google's page speed tool to improve your Users Experience

I know I’m not telling you much when I say we live in a hurry-up world. In fact, I guess I wasted a few seconds of your time telling you that, and now a few seconds more acknowledging …

The point is, seconds matter, and it’s even worse online. How quickly a page loads in a user’s browser or mobile device can be make-or-break for them staying on your site.

By page load time, I mean the average number of seconds it takes a web page to load, from the user’s click on a link to everything on the page being visible to them.

Google has said that the average page load time is about 7 seconds. That was a few years ago. Google also said a few year prior to that that page load time was a major factor in SERP ranking.

I widely quoted Kissmetrics study said 47 percent of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less.

Further, 40 percent of those in the Kissmetrics study claimed to abandon websites that take more than 3 seconds to load. This led the study authors to say a 1-second delay in page response can result in a 7 percent reduction in conversions and potentially cost an ecommerce site making $100,000 per day up to $2.5 million in lost sales every year.

So, yes, page load speed is an issue for those who make a living through websites. That means you.

Google’s PageSpeed Insights Reporting

One thing I love and respect about Google is that they do try to help. They will judge your website on how quickly it loads, but they will also help you increase your site’s load speed.

Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool measures speed and reports how web pages can be improved. It ranks speed and user experience on a 0-100 scale, with a score of 85 or better indicating that the page is performing well. Its reports identify ways to make your site faster and more mobile-friendly.

The report grades aspects of your web page for desktop and mobile use, and provides three grades:

What’s more, you can get your first reports simply be entering a URL into Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool.

But you need to keep in mind that PageSpeed Insights only looks at the front-end performance of your website. These are issues like how images, JavaScript, and CSS affect load speed. It doesn’t help with issues like load handling and application performance.

What Will PageSpeed Insights Suggest I Fix?

For a page’s performance on mobile and desktop devices, PageSpeed Insights examines 10 speed factors:

  • Render-blocking JavaScript and CSS in above-the-fold content
  • Priority of visible content, i.e., structuring HTML to load the critical, above-the-fold content first
  • Landing page redirects (to be avoided)
  • Server response time optimization
  • Browser caching, i.e., instruction for browser to load previously downloaded resources from local disk rather than over the network
  • Compression of resources to reduce number of bytes
  • Image optimization
  • HTML minification
  • JavaScript minification
  • CSS minification.

For performance on mobile devices it also examines six user experience factors:

  • Viewport configuration
  • Fitting content to viewport
  • Font size
  • Tap target size (links, buttons)
  • App installation interstitials that may hide content
  • Plugins.

For each, suggestion (and for “passed rules,” which are things you’ve already done correctly), Google provides a link to its explanation for developers of why and how it should be done. This information is also available at PageSpeed Insights Rules.

Remember that the tool looks at one page at a time. It’s likely that if you (or your developer) failed to do something right on the first landing page you checked, you’ve done it again and again throughout the site.

My suggestion is that you check a few landing pages to find consistencies, and prioritize any work you might do to make PageSpeed Insights happier with your website.

Make the red-flagged “should fix” changes, and then check to see how that moves your score.

Then, for the “consider fixing” suggestions, look at your current capabilities vs. the time it will take to learn to do the work, and plan accordingly.


Jeremy Smith

Digital marketer with a penchant for dance; helping clients see the light through the jungle of tweets since before Twitter was cool.