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How to increase your Google PageSpeed Insights score

How to increase your Google PageSpeed Insights score

Posted 12th March, 2019 by Janah

Put simply, people don't like slow websites. The longer your site takes to load, the more likely it is that visitors will get annoyed with it or simply decide to leave. This means you need to ensure your website runs as quickly as possible.

To achieve this, you'll need to measure your site’s current loading times, then look for ways you can optimise those numbers. Google PageSpeed Insights provides you with a way to do both. It lets you know how long your pages take to load, and gives you advice on how to improve their performance.

In this article, we'll show you how Google PageSpeed Insights works. Then we'll go over several ways you can increase your score. Let's get right to work.

An introduction to Google PageSpeed Insights

Google PageSpeed Insights is a very straightforward tool. All you have to do is type in a URL, and hit the Analyze button at the top of the page:

Analyse Page Speed

Then, the tool will collect data from your website, and return a score:

Speed Score Results

The number in the top left-hand corner represents how well optimised your website is. You’ll see individual numbers for both the mobile and desktop versions of your site. The higher the number, the better.

If you scroll down further, you'll also see a breakdown of your score. For example, PageSpeed Insights tells you how long it took to load and render the page you tested:

Field Data Insight

A great aspect of using PageSpeed Insights is that this tool gives you practical advice on how you can optimise your website's performance. For example, in our test it recommended taking steps to prevent page redirects:

Page Load Opportunities

You’ll even see estimates for how much you can improve your loading times by implementing each piece of advice. This lets you know which tasks are most vital.

As we mentioned, higher numbers are always better. In general, however, it’s best to try and aim for a minimum score of above 70. If you're within that range, it means your website is relatively fast, even if there's still room for improvement. If your site scores below 70, on the other hand, this means you’ll need to start optimising its performance right away.

4 ways to increase your Google PageSpeed Insights score

There are a lot of things you can do to improve your website's performance. However, Google PageSpeed Insights helps you prioritize the optimisations that are likely to make the most impact.

Let's talk about what those tasks are.

1. Minify your HTML and CSS

Developers and designers usually format HTML, CSS, and other kinds of code in a way that’s easy for people to read and interpret. However, this can result in bulky files, with lots of unnecessary data. If you optimise that code, on the other hand, it will take up less space.

You can do that by removing white spaces, line breaks, comments, and other types of information that isn’t strictly required. This process is called minification. The resulting code will be harder to read, so this is best done once a site is fully built and isn’t likely to require major changes.

It’s worth noting that minifying a single HTML or CSS file won't make much of a difference. However, most websites include dozens of these files, so minification can have a significant impact on your loading times when done right.

Of course, minifying a file would take up a lot of time if you did it by hand. To save time you can use a service such as HTML Minifier or CSSNano to take care of the process for you. With both tools, all you have to do is input the code, run the tool, and save the minified version.

2. Optimise Your Images

Almost every website these days features plenty of images. The problem is that those images can weigh a lot, particularly the more high-quality files.

Instead of foregoing images, you can 'optimise' or compress yours, so they take up less space and load faster for your users. There are plenty of tools you can use to optimise images quickly, without noticeably impacting their quality.

A popular option is called TinyPNG, which enables you to upload up to 20 images at a time and compresses them in seconds:

Compress Images For Seo

After your images are ready, you'll be able to download them. Then, you can upload them to your site as usual.

3. Leverage browser caching

In some cases, the websites you visit will save some of their files to your device’s browser. That way, you'll need to load less data during subsequent visits, so the site will feel faster. This process is referred to as 'browser caching'.

You can leverage browser caching on your own website as well. This involves determining what files should be saved to visitors’ computers. To do that, you’ll need to give instructions to your server, which you can do by modifying the .htaccess file.

If you're using WordPress, then this process is a lot simpler. There are plenty of plugins that will leverage browser caching for you, which is handy if you’re not a developer.

4. Remove render-blocking JavaScript

When Google PageSpeed Insights analyzes your website, it presents you with multiple metrics related to your loading times. One of those concerns Above The Fold (ATF) content. This refers to the part of a web page that’s visible when it first loads, before the user does any scrolling:

Google  Page  Insights  Analysis

Everything after this is Below The Fold (BTF) content. Ideally, you want ATF content to render as quickly as possible, while BTF content can wait. The problem is that a lot of third-party scripts will start loading before they really need to.

Imagine, for example, that you add some code which connects your website to an analytics platform. If that code is configured to load before the rest of your content, it can make your website feel slower. You want the content your users will see first to be prioritized above everything else.

The solution to this problem is to identify render-blocking JavaScript snippets on your pages, and configure them so they can load a bit later. In practice, this likely means you'll need to dive into your website's code, so it’s a technique to implement carefully.

Conclusion

At its core, Google PageSpeed Insights is all about improving your website's performance. The lower your score is, the more you’ll need to work on. However, you'd be surprised at how much of a difference even a few small tweaks can make to your loading times.

Your PageSpeed Insights score is directly tied to your site's performance. Fortunately, there are plenty of effective ways to improve both:

  1. Minify your HTML and CSS.
  2. Optimise your images.
  3. Leverage browser caching.
  4. Remove render-blocking JavaScript.

Categories: SEO, Marketing, Small Businesses

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