How Publishers Should be Using Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool
It’s official: page speed will be a ranking factor on mobile as of July 2018. This important news arrived one week after Google released version 4 of its PageSpeed Insights API tool, cementing it as a critical instrument in the publisher mobile optimization toolbox.
This piece will explain why Google is prioritizing speed and how publishers can make the most of the updated PageSpeed Insights tool in order to benchmark and improve mobile page performance.
The Need for Speed
In just over a decade, smartphones have become an essential part of daily life for many of us. In fact, by 2019, they will have worked their way into the palms of an estimated 2.5 billion users. However, 70% of cellular network connections globally will occur at 3G or slower speeds through 2020. It is also important to remember that 53% of mobile users abandon sites that take over 3 seconds to load.
Looking at these statistics, there’s a clear problem: more of us will be equipped with smartphones, but the infrastructure for transferring mobile data will remain limited, resulting in more frustrated mobile users.
Google and other search engines understand this disconnect, which is why it has steadily worked toward prioritizing mobile speed as a ranking factor. It is in everyone’s best interest to offer speedy mobile experiences that engage and delight users. As Adam Sherk explains in this article on mobile SEO best practices, speed can bring with it important SEO benefits for publishers.
Offering a speedy mobile website, though, can be a challenge. Over the years page bloating has become a serious issue, and the average web page could exceed 4MB by next year.
Knowing where to optimize and adapt a website can be a real challenge, and you have to turn to the right tools.
PageSpeed Insights Tool
The updated PageSpeed Insights tool uses real-world data collected by the Chrome User Experience Report. This means that the tool is now equipped to offer more insightful and accurate recommendations to publishers.
You can see what the results from the tool look like below:
The tool is now based around two key metrics -- First Contentful Paint and DOM Content Loaded -- which are scored in three ways: Fast, Average, and Slow:
Here are what those two metrics mean in plain language:
First Contentful Paint (FCP)
FCP is an elaboration on “first paint”, a metric which measures when any render appears within the browser (even a change in background color, for example, would count). The FCP metric measures the time until actual content has been loaded on the page, giving you a more useful user experience assessment.
After presenting the results from the test, the tool then presents more detailed feedback which is divided into five sections: Speed, Optimization, Speed Load Distributions, Page Stats, and Optimization Suggestions.
Depending on the performance of your website and the optimizations that are in place, you will be given a series of suggestions to act upon. These range from optimizing images to minifying code, and each suggestions is accompanied by a link to further guidance.
As you can see, this tool is of critical importance when it comes to optimizing your website and offering your mobile readers a fast and smooth experience.
Good luck in optimizing your mobile website and offering a speedy experience that will engage existing and new readers alike.