Page speed is a measurement of how fast the content on your page loads, and it was some time ago when I spent a couple of days obsessing over my Google PageSpeed Insights (GPSI) score. At the time, this site scored sixty points for desktop and mobile. Suffice it to say, I wasn’t satisfied with my results. Knowing that page speed is a Google search ranking factor, I wanted to increase my scores to help with search engine optimization.
The first step to increasing your page speed is to understand which areas of your website you need to improve. There are multiple page speed diagnostics tools that you can use, but GPSI should be your primary focus.
Google PageSpeed Insights measures the performance of a page for mobile and desktop devices. It fetches your URL twice, once with a mobile user-agent, and once with a desktop user-agent. Other page speed graders borrow at least some of their ideas from Google’s methodology.
- Google PageSpeed Insights
- Think with Google
- Google Mobile-Friendly Test
- Website Grader
What’s a Good Score?
After you enter and submit your URL using GSPI, you’ll get a score and performance details such as what you should fix, considering fixing, and so on. 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.”
Eighty-five or above should be your aim or at the very least a score of seventy. Keep in mind that page speed is just one of 200 factors Google uses in their ranking algorithm, so you shouldn’t necessarily forego other objectives just to achieve a high score. For example, using a pop-up opt-in form to collect emails might be important to you, but pop-ups can negatively impact page speed scoring.
The performance details that will often appear in the “should fix it” and “consider fixing it” areas are as follows accompanied by the free WordPress plugin(s) that can rectify the issue. Also, I recently switched to WP Fastest Cache for an all-in-one plugin solution and am pleased with my scores.
“Enable compression” – GZip Ninja Speed Compression
“Leverage browser caching” – W3 Total Cache
“Optimize images” – ShortPixel Image Optimizer / WP SmushIt
“Reduce server response time” – Autoptimize
Other Helpful 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, for instance, your page speed score or other priorities. I use a scroll mat which reduces my score, but I’m okay with that.
I recommend fully understanding performance details before attempting to fix them with plugins. There might be other actions you can take to speed up your site.
Installing a top rated cache plugin and correctly setting it up can significantly improve your score. For example, the W3 Total Cache plugin. Cache plays a significant role in page speed performance.
Your WordPress theme can influence your score considerably. Some themes aren’t performance friendly because of how they were designed and developed. If you have a clunky, poorly designed theme, you may want to consider changing it.
Plugins may cause conflicts with other plugins. This happened to me when I installed Autoptimize, so I removed it shortly thereafter. Also, to understand the impact on site load times concerning the plugins you use, the P3 plugin by GoDaddy can be helpful.
Finding the correct combination of page performance plugins might take some experimentation, but it’s worth it to improve a visitor’s interaction with your website. On a related note, Google is laser-focused on mobile performance with initiatives such as the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project. In the video below, I discuss ideas, activities, and plugins to make your site mobile-friendly.