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In the ultra competitive world of SEO, everyone is seeking an edge. You want your site to leapfrog rivals in the rankings so it gets found first. But often SEO focuses narrowly on tactics like backlinks and keywords. An area that gets overlooked? Site speed.
With PageSpeed Insights, Google provides a free tool to evaluate your site’s performance. The results offer actionable tips to accelerate page load times. This directly impacts user experience and your SEO rankings.
So why exactly is PageSpeed Insights so critical? And how can you leverage it to achieve blazing fast speeds that wow Google? Read on to learn the inside scoop.
Why Site Speed Matters to Google
Back in 2010, Google made site speed a ranking factor. Since then, they’ve only doubled down by baking speed more heavily into their algorithm.
The reasons come down to user experience. Slow load times frustrate visitors. This increases abandonment rates and hurts conversions.
To satisfy searchers, Google wants to serve up sites that load lightning fast. Pages under 3 seconds earn the “Fast” PageSpeed badge.
This emphasis means site speed should be a top SEO priority. Thankfully PageSpeed Insights makes optimization easy.
How PageSpeed Insights Works
PageSpeed Insights analyzes URL performance on both mobile and desktop. It examines factors like:
- Server response time
- Page layout
- Code efficiency
- Image compression
It then generates speed scores for mobile and desktop along with recommendations to improve.
Grades range from 0 to 100:
- 90+ = Excellent
- 50-89 = Good
- 0-49 = Poor
The higher your scores, the happier Google will be. Strive for at least 80+ on mobile and 90+ on desktop.
Why PageSpeed Insights Should Be Your New BFF
Many SEOs focus solely on content and links. But superb speed can give you an instant leg up. Here are five key reasons PageSpeed Insights deserves your love:
1. Identifies Quick Wins
The optimization tips spotlight easy fixes with big impact. For example:
- Compressing images
- Adding image dimensions
- Optimizing caching
Often you can implement multiple suggestions in under an hour for an immediate speed boost.
2. Improves Real User Experience
PageSpeed grades simulate actual user conditions. So your scores directly indicate how quickly real visitors will engage with your pages.
Since speed impacts visitor satisfaction, PageSpeed Insights helps you deliver better UX. Happy visitors engage more, convert more, and come back more.
3. Increases Conversions
Numerous studies reveal the cost of slow sites:
- 53% of mobile users abandon sites taking over 3 seconds to load.
- A 1 second delay decreases conversion rates by 7%.
- Pages taking over 4 seconds to load see a 400% higher abandonment rate.
PageSpeed Insights helps you dodge these conversion killers by serving pages in 2 seconds or less.
4. Lightning Fast Speed = Higher Rankings
Google has a vested interest in pointing searchers to speedy sites.
Pages that load quickly satisfy users’ instant demands. This incentivizes Google to rank them higher.
PageSpeed Insights gives you the tools to build a blazing fast site that rockets up the SERPs.
5. Free Tool From Google
As Google’s own speed analysis tool, PageSpeed Insights comes straight from the source.
It requires no paid subscriptions or 3rd party software. Just enter a URL and go.
Since Google built the algorithm, these are metrics they genuinely care about. PageSpeed Insights allows peeking directly into how Google evaluates your real-world speed.
How to Improve Your Grades
Now that you’re sold on PageSpeed’s SEO superpowers, let’s explore how to ace your next test.
Start by entering your main homepage URL into PageSpeed Insights. Pay attention to:
- Mobile vs. desktop differences
- Overall page scores
- Category breakdowns
- Individual optimization tips
Review the full list of suggestions. Then tackle fixes using this prioritization guide:
Target Any Errors or Security Issues
Errors prevent pages from loading properly. And security issues like missing HTTPS can degrade rankings.
These require urgent attention to create a fully functional site.
Improve Server Response Time
Server response time measures how quickly your server returns initial content. It’s shown in seconds under the PageSpeed score.
This sets the foundation for your overall page speed. Aim for under 200 milliseconds if possible. Accelerating server response should be an early focus.
Fix High Priority Optimization Suggestions
Next examine the high priority suggestions highlighted in red. These indicate fixes that will deliver massive speed gains.
Some common high priority fixes:
- Enable text compression
- Remove unused CSS/JS
- Leverage browser caching
Implementing these high priority optimizations makes an easy impact.
Address High Impact Elements
Look for any individual elements on the page that are dragging down performance. PageSpeed lists how much time each takes to load in seconds.
Images, videos, and fonts are frequent culprits. Compress and optimize these assets to multiply your speed gains.
Implement Other Quick Wins
By now you’ve likely achieved some big jumps in your grades. Review the full list of suggestions and pick off any additional quick wins.
Eliminating render blocking resources, optimizing caching, and deferring offscreen images are some examples. Chip away at the small inefficiencies.
Consider Developer Tools
For developers, leveraging tools like Lighthouse, WebPageTest, and Chrome DevTools can help dig deeper. But focus on the low hanging fruit first before getting too technical.
Speed Up Your Whole Site
The grades for your home page provide a snapshot of overall site performance. To track improvements across your domain:
- Test a sample of other key pages beyond the home page.
- Set up automated monitoring using Google Analytics or webpagetest.org.
- Check speed frequently across desktop and mobile.
Site speed often deteriorates over time as new pages get added. So maintain vigilance to detect any declines before users notice.
Pro Tip: Use PageSpeed Insights’ API to monitor directly in Google Data Studio for an executive snapshot.
Ongoing Optimization Is Key
Acing your next PageSpeed test isn’t a one-and-done process. Site speed requires ongoing optimization and vigilance.
As you expand content and add new features, keep evaluating with PageSpeed Insights. Look for creative ways to shave off additional milliseconds.
Embrace speed as an SEO opportunity, not just a technical concern. Faster speeds equal happier users, higher conversions, and top rankings.
So make PageSpeed Insights your new BFF today. Let Google’s own tool unlock the site speed secrets to escalate your search dominance.