Having a website that loads fast and offers a great user experience is vital to keep your users happy and engaged. I’ll explain how you can improve your google page speed score and what Google PageSpeed is.
What is Google Page Speed
Google PageSpeed Insights is a reporting tool, that measures certain web metrics both on mobile and desktop devices. It also offers suggestions on how you can improve them. Go to the PageSpeed website and type in your full website URL, then click Analyze. It will then show what it has analysed from a mobile and desktop measurement.
A good performing website is scored between 85 and 100. The higher the score the better. Sometimes you will find your mobile score is dreadful and the desktop score is superb or visa versa. You need to try and get a balance between both.
Sound all bit technical? It really isn’t, but people like Google and other big web companies, use big words and jargon and it gets a bit confusing sometimes. Google does change the goalposts with new algarythms, so its worth keeping an eye on it and the performance of your website regularly.
Why is Google Page Speed important?
Just because your website loads fast for you, doesn’t mean it loads fast for everyone. First impressions count, so you have about 3 seconds to impress your visitors before they click off your website. 3 seconds doesnt seem a lot, but in the world of web, three seconds is like waiting for your child to hurry up and put their coat on.
I’ll try and keep this article as simple as possible to understand, as I appreciate we’re not all tech-savvy.
Google uses lots of metrics. Metrics are just measurements, but in terms of Google, it is a measurement of performance. The way Google basically works is all based on how it determines the user experience of your website, the structure of the website, and the content of your website.
For example, You could have some fantastic content within your blog, but if it’s painfully slow when loading, Google will lower your ranking in search results. Google only wants to display websites that offer a great user experience, with great content to create a ‘better web’.
In simple terms, a faster site= increased traffic and more engagement.
The Google PageSpeed score is only an indication of how well your website scores and performs. It is not the be all and end all of your website. It does, however, give you a good insight into how to improve your website for a better user experience.
Ways to improve Google Page Speed score for WordPress
WordPress is a fantastic platform for websites, blogs, and e-commerce sites. It offers a lot of functionality built in, but also allows custom functionality. The downside is, WordPress can get very bloated over time, and can slow your website down.
When it comes to WordPress, I love to play around with custom functions and design a website the way I want it. So I choose a simple theme and build from that. However, we’re not all technology orientated and that’s why there are thousands of pre-built themes out there that make it easy for you. More on this a little later.
So let’s get stuck in and have a look at some ways you can improve your Google Page Speed score.
One of the most common reasons for a slow loading website is the images that are on it. You’ve taken a super picture, it’s great quality and worthy of a showcase on your website. You’ve uploaded the picture and you find the website is taking forever to load. That’s because you have potentially just uploaded a photo with a file size of anything between 6Mb and 60Mb, depending on the camera/phone. Your website will need to download the entire full-sized image before it can then display it on your device.
Image optimisation is one of the most vital steps you should take to improve your website speed and score.
Optimsing your image is quite straight forward. It involves resizing and compressing images, so that they can load quicker.
Edit your images
First, you need to edit your images before you upload them. You need to resize and compress them. You can use various online editing tools to resize, edit or crop your image. In most cases, you can use a tool like TinyJPG. Upload your images and it will automatically compress them for you, ready for you to upload to your own website.
Secondly, you need an image optimisation plugin. I’ve tried a few and the one I found to be the best for me was Smush. It adds additional compression and also adds other cool features like lazy loading.
There is a difference between file size and image size. The file size is the actual file itself, the quality of the image and image data determines the file size. The image size is how big the image is in pixels, how big it will display on the screen.
WordPress has millions of plugins available for pretty much any function or feature you want to include in your website. There are a couple of downsides to plugins though. Some are badly coded and some a full of heavy resources like scripts and styling etc which can put a burden on your page loading time.
Deactivate and delete unused plugins
Have a look through your plugins, if you’re not using any features of the plugin, deactivate it and delete it.
Do you really need a plugin for that?
Like I said earlier, WordPress is full of functionality. I appreciate that you may not know how to use code, it may be a little daunting. But do you need a plugin that does something so simple? Possibly not? WordPress has a community of millions of people from experienced to complete novices who can more than likely help you achieve what you need without the need of a plugin. WordPress has a functionality where you can use code snippets to achieve simple tasks.
Duplicate plugin functionality.
You may have a plugin that is already installed that can do the same thing as you need. JetPack by WordPress is a good example. It is full of useful functionality, are you utilising it?
Update your plugins
Outdated plugins can cause issues. Good, trustworthy developers constantly improve their code, security and functionality within their plugins. Ensure you keep your plugins updated.
Look for an alternative
There’s many plugins in the WordPress plugin repository and theres a lot of plugins that do the same thing. Its worth trying different plugins out. To find out which one suits your needs and also suits the performance of your website. As an example. I used Contact Form 7 for many years, until recently, I switched to WP Forms. I found it was a much lighter plugin, less bloated and actually increased my performance score, just by switching plugins. So dont just choose the first plugin you find..
Caching is simply a local copy of your website. Its like a temporary storage place for all of your website files. It enables browsers to load the files for your website much easier without having to download everything from your server each time your website is visited. Caching can significantly improve your Google Page Speed score. It also improves the page load speed for your users, giving a better user experience.
A good all-round caching plugin is Hummingbird. It’s made by the same developers as Smush, which I mentioned earlier. Another good caching plugin is W3 Total Cache. There are plenty out there, but again, make sure you use a caching plugin that has regular updates, developed by a reputable developer, and offers good support.
Compress and Minify
CSS, HTML, and JS files are all used to create a website. Combined together they can create some really amazing websites. They can also be one of the main reasons your google page speed score is low. I can pretty much guarantee, that, if you check your PageSpeed score it will say “Eliminate Render-Blocking Resources” and within that, you’ll see a list of CSS and JS files.
These are called render-blocking resources because they block the webpage from rendering effectively.
Most, caching plugins allow you to minify, combine and defer scripts and css to enable your website to load faster. If you’re not tech savvy, when you install a caching plugin, just use the automated setup and the default settings are generally enough to improve performance. If you feel adventurous, you are able to defer other scripts that the plugin hasnt automatically moved
A word of caution. If you try to move jquery.min.js to the footer, it can cause issues, as a lot of plugins depend on this file. Only move your jquery.min.js file if you are confident that it won’t affect functionality.
Be mobile friendly
Since the majority of users of Google, use a mobile device, the google bot indexes all of the mobile versions of your website for the index rankings. So ensure your theme is mobile ready.
If your theme isnt responsive, you need to change your theme to one that is responsive. When you visit your website on your phone or tablet, does it look nicely sized, legible and designed in a way that fits the screen your using?
It’s also worth noting that using the WordPress AMP plugin is well worth it. I personally don’t use it, yet. but I have it on a staging website and it creates a stripped-down Html version of your website and loads webpages in a mobile style at a lightning-fast speed. AMP (Accelerated Mobile pages) was, originally created by Google.
Server speed plays a huge part in the performance of your website. Having a poor web host is not good for any website. Ive heard horror stories, of really slow servers, and even hosts that just closed down and people have lost their entire livelyhood.
Choose a reputable, high-performing web host. There’s plenty out there. To name a few, IONOS, BlueHost, Cloudflare, GoDaddy, and WordPress.
The results of improving website performance
The results speak for themselves. The above steps are only a drop in the ocean in the sea of website optimisation. But they are crucial steps to give you a good head start.
I and my blog do not endorse any plugins, hosts, or services, but I do recommend them from my own personal experiences, so you may find a better service or plugin that is better suited to your own needs.
I hope this guide has given you a little insight into Google PageSpeed and how you can help improve your Google Page Speed score.
Feel free to leave a comment with any advice for others, ask questions or additional tasks that can contribute.