So often, as a team, we come across useful information and articles directly from Google, that our clients and contacts would benefit from knowing about. However, most people outside of our industry wouldn’t get past the first paragraph without getting confused by all the jargon!

This is where I want to help, by taking that jargon and translating it so it can benefit a wider business audience.

This week, Google announced a change to PageSpeed Insights on their Google Developers blog. PageSpeed is one of many important factors that can help your website improve in Google’s rankings; so if you manage your own website or outsource this to another agency it is imperative you understand the importance and how the change from Google could impact your website.

Keep reading for the jargon-light explanation of real-world data in PageSpeed Insights.

What is PageSpeed Insights?

PageSpeed Insights is a free Google SEO tool that you can use to measure the speed it takes for your website to load in a user’s browser.

The tool calculates a score based on some common website performance best practices, details of which can be found here.

Based on these best practices your page will receive an Optimization score from 0 – 100 and a Speed Score. The tool works out whether you page can be improved based on two things:

  • Time to above-the-fold load: this is how long the page takes to load from when the visitor requests to access the page (clicking on a result in google, or from another link say on an email or social media) until how long it has fully loaded above the fold of the page, which is the first part of the page which can be seen without scrolling.
  • Time to full page load: this takes into account the same conditions as the first point but in regards to how long it takes for the full page to load.

Your Optimisation score is indicated as Good, Medium, or Low with figures shown directly below it:

Good: 80 and above

Medium: between 60 and 79

Low: between 0 and 59

If you score Medium or Low, this means that your page requires work to improve the performance and load speed.

Ideally your page load speed should be less than 2 seconds. The longer the page load speed the higher the percentage of visitors that will leave the page (we are increasingly a very impatient society, especially across mobile devices in my experience).

What has Google Changed?

Until this recent change the recommendations made as part of the PageSpeed Insights (PSI) report, were presented without any context to how fast the page actually performed in real life. Therefore, how could developers and businesses feasibly improve their websites without any understanding how it worked for their target market?

Now PageSpeed Insights is using data from the Chrome User Experience Report to enable it to more effectively provide recommendations on how to improve the speed of your website pages.

Google will show two metrics:

First Contentful Paint (FCP) – this is when the browser that you are using shows pixels on the screen from the DOM (explained below)

and

DOM Content Loaded (DCL) – DOM is a Document Object Model – if you imagine this like a hierarchy, this is a model of the page, which is produced in the background without you even knowing, therefore DCL is when the DOM has completely loaded.

The Chrome User Experience Report was released in October 2017, and provides data on the “real world” user experience for popular websites. This allows developers insight into how individuals experience the web and what that results in.

What is included in the new PSI report can be found by reading the real-world data in pagespeed insights article from Google itself, just follow the link.

What does this mean for your website?

PageSpeed Insights has always been a useful tool to help understand how this one element of your website, page loading speed, is performing.

As already mentioned the longer the page load speed, the more likely the visitor is to leave a page. If you page is producing a high bounce rate (the percentage of site visitors which leave the site after viewing one page) then it can be seen as less relevant or less user-friendly to Google, which some say can and will result in a lower ranking in Google’s results.

Now that PSI is also calculated using real-world data, developers will be able to take these statistics to further improve website pages, which will help improve your rankings.

What we have noticed however, when testing the tool with a variety of websites that there is no speed available (see screenshot below)

After looking into this further, there is no official explanation as to why this is happening currently. However, an alternative solution has been suggested in the form of an automated tool called Lighthouse. This is an extension only for use with Google Chrome, which will provide speed data for a page on your site. The only slight downside with this alternative solution is that you need a degree in tech speak to interpret the data!

Need more help?

If you have decided to read one of the articles from Google I have linked to from my blog, then you will start to appreciate how complex Google are trying to make things (if you haven’t, then do just take a quick look). SEO continues to remain an important digital marketing practice for businesses to use in 2018, with factors like page speed, user experience, content, mobile functionality, voice search and more already identified as important strategies to include this year.

If you need further help improving the speed of your website, increasing your rankings, or developing a search engine optimisation strategy for your business then contact our team on 01793 766040.

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