Page Speed test – Is this important or not?

Insights analyzes a page to see if it follows our recommendations for making a page render in under a second on a mobile network. ~ Google PageSpeed Insights

This article is prompted due to personal experience.  My clients are mainly medium to smaller-sized business.  Recently, it came to my attention that a vast majority of clients across most market segments are not aware of the Page Speed tests for their mobile and desktop sites.

Be prepared…it is coming and you have been warned 🙂

According to a 2016 report, Google still use desktop web pages to rank mobile sites.  This, however, will be changing when Google launch its mobile algorithm (latest estimate is end 2018).
The purpose of this article is to create awareness with customers that it is better to be mobile optimized than not.

In light of my clients that are not aware of page speed, the following question comes to mind:

Page speed insights Google

Why is business not aware of this important ranking factor?

The answer could be simple.  Business owners do not have time to focus on SEO and or web development / marketing. In any given business it is the responsibility of the IT department.

Is it the IT department’s responsibility?:
Not necessarily.  Yes, Page Speed compliance is a function of web development.  However, your web developer and designers/marketers need to collaborate in order to find the optimal point where beautiful designs load fast.

Keeping the above in mind, the correct message has to be sent with a strong focus on content in order to grab the mobile handset / desktop user’s attention
within seconds of the page opening in order to keep them them reading the rest of the content on the page in order to elicit a call to action.

Remember, you have less than 1 second to grab someone’s attention ~ according to Google….
Let’s just take a step back and look at where the importance of page speed comes from:

PageSpeed insights simplified:

In 2014, ComScore produced the above graph based on market research.  Yes, 3 years ago, Mobile users surfing the web, using mobile handsets, exceeded desktop users.
This, however, goes back as far as April 2010, when Matt Cutts reported that Google count page speed as a ranking factor.

As a result, Google set up a list of parameters to ensure that sites render in under a second on a mobile network and help website owners and webmasters to achieve this goal.

Speed has always been a big thing with Google.  As a matter of fact, the one thing that never changed since Google’s launch in 1998, is the time in which search results are listed.

The bottom line is that nobody is willing to wait for anything.  Mobile handset users wants the information on the fly when they search on the move.   In this case, time is no man’s friend.

Google page speed

Page Speed – the good news:

The good news is that our friends at Google made a tool available to help us test.  There are, however, certain factors which we control and others we do not control.  Let’s take a look at this.  I am using our test site for purposes of this article:
Simply go to the Google speed test tool and enter your URL (website address).

Click on Analyze and Google will not only display results but tell you what to fix:

Page speed test

Leverage browser caching:

In our results, we have to fix two issues – browser caching and we have to reduce our server response time.

When I click on the Leverage browser caching, I get a list of links causing the page to load slow.

The links, are however, not links from my site.  They are external links and there is not much one can do to fix this, as the links are external.  Having said that, I will look into using alternative sources or move / change links, in order to gain control without loosing the functionality on my site.

This might take a bit of time but I am not going to break my head about that right now.  92/100 is a pretty good score for the test site.

Reduce server response time:
The second issue with my test site, is the server response time.  The site loads in 0.32 seconds (which is less than the 1 second they require), but digging deeper, I note that Google wants my site to load in 0.002 seconds.

Browser caching

It is recommended to also test your site from various destinations, using a tool such as Pingdom or GT Metrix.

There is always the option to move the site to better hosting companies but we all have hosting agreements which we have to honor.  This test is something we will work on but we are not going to stop business because of it.

Take away and conclusion:

Speed and user experience matters.  Whether you are the content marketer, marketing manager, web developer or CEO of the company, it matters.  Work as a team to resolve these issues.  Google is very helpful and tells you how to do it on their insights pages.

With all the research I did to try and obtain a 100% score, I learned that it is nearly impossible if you use CMS systems such as WordPress (or any other CMS tools).  One should also not obsess about the score.  It is however, helpful and good practice to sort out the potential issues that could slow down your website.

There will be elements you control and elements you do not control.  Fix what you can and just try to keep within the 70-90 page score the gurus talk about.  Always get a second opinion by using alternative page speed tools such as pingdom or GT metrix.

Page Speed is not only important for Google, but also to Bing.  I think Bing actually explain the balance between page speed and user experience very well:

Slow load times can lead to a visitor simply leaving your website, seeking their information elsewhere.  If they came from our search results that may appear to us to be an unsatisfactory result that we showed.  Faster is better, but take care to balance absolute page load speed with a positive, useful user experience.