Page speed is a measurement of how fast the content on your page loads, and it was some time ago when I spent a day or two obsessing about my Google PageSpeed Insights (GPSI) score. At the time, this site and addplugin.com were scoring below 60 for desktop and mobile. Suffice it to say, I wasn’t satisfied with my results. Knowing that page speed is an SEO and Google search ranking factor, I wanted to increase my scores to above 80 for desktop and 70 for mobile.
The first step to increasing your page speed is to understand which areas of your website you need to improve. There are three popular page speed diagnostics tools that you can use, but GPSI should be your primary focus. PageSpeed Insights measures the performance of a page for mobile devices and desktop devices. It fetches your URL twice, once with a mobile user-agent, and once with a desktop-user agent. The other page speed graders borrow some of their analysis parameters from Google methodology.
What’s a Good Score?
Let’s stick to discussing GSPI since it works in tandem with SEO and Google search results. After you enter and submit your URL for analysis, you’ll get page speed performance information concerning your score, what you should fix, considering fixing, passed rules, and for mobile, user experience. Starting with your score, Google says:
“The PageSpeed Score ranges from 0 to 100 points. A higher score is better, and a score of 85 or above indicates that the page is performing well.”
Therefore, 85 or above should be your aim (green success indicator), but if you can’t get there because of other website objectives such as implementing a pop-up form to collect email addresses, then you should aim for a score above 70 (yellow exclamation mark indicator). Keep in mind that page speed is just one of 200 factors Google uses in their ranking algorithms, so you shouldn’t necessarily forego other objectives just to achieve a high score.
The messages that will often appear in the “should fix it” and “consider fixing it” areas are as follows accompanied by the free WordPress plugin that can rectify the issue:
“Enable compression” – GZip Ninja Speed Compression
“Leverage browser caching” – W3 Total Cache
“Optimize images” – ShortPixel Image Optimizer
“Reduce server response time” – Autoptimize
Other Page Speed Plugins
- Far Future Expiry Header
- JCH Optimize
- WordPress Gzip Compression
- WP Performance Score Booster
- WP Super Simple Speed
The “Eliminate render-blocking…” message can be caused by the use of a pop-up that occurs above-the-fold on page load e.g. a scroll mat opt-in form. As previously mentioned, you have to decide what’s important to you i.e. page speed score or functionality in some cases. Use of my scroll mat reduces my score from 91 to 86 which is fine with me.
I recommend fully understanding the details of any issue by clicking on the drop-down arrow next to the statement. By understanding, you’ll be able to pinpoint issues further which can help your decision making.
Installing a top rated cache plugin and correctly setting it up can significantly improve your score, for example, W3 Total Cache. Cache plays a significant role in page speed performance. You can explore the best cache plugins at addplugin.com.
Your theme can influence your score considerably. Some themes aren’t performance friendly because of their designs, structures, and scripts. Conversely, if you have a clunky poorly-designed theme, you may want to consider replacing it.
Lastly, plugins may cause conflicts with other plugins. This happened to me when I installed Autoptimize, which conflicted with my Thrive Themes plugin. Thus, I introduced a different set of page speed plugins to increase my score while maintaining Thrive Leads and my other plugins. Finding the right portfolio of page performance plugins can take some experimentation.