There is a sense of urgency in all of us in these busy lives we lead. How often have you tried to load a website, and got frustrated when it took longer than a few seconds to load? People will do exactly that same if they have to wait for your site to load, but do you know how long it currently takes?
You should check regularly that your site is loading as quickly as possible, or you could be losing vital leads or potential customers. The best way to do this is to use the Google PageSpeed Insights tool. This very handy feature not only measures your load speed and gives you feedback, but you can also use it to optimise your current performance.
Let’s have a closer look at what Google PageSpeed Insights is all about, and why you should make use of it.
Introducing Google PageSpeed Insights
The great thing about Google PageSpeed Insights is that it is very simple to use and very clear in its presentation of the results and analysis.
To begin, you simply type your URL into the first box and hit the button named ‘Analyze’. It then goes about doing its job.
What Google PageSpeed Insights is now doing is collecting the relevant information from your site, and it will then return a ‘score’ in the top left-hand corner of the screen.
The higher the number, the better your site is performing in terms of speed. In general terms, you should be looking for a score of greater than 70. If lower, you have serious problems.
Further down the page, and the tool presents you with information on how long it took to render and load your page, in more detail. This is the information that is of most interest to you.
Where Google PageSpeed Insights gets really clever is that from its analysis it can come up with recommendations as to what you need to do to optimise the speed of your page. It may give you more than one suggestion, and it will tell you approximately how much quicker your page load time will be if you implement the changes that have been suggested.
How can you increase your Google PageSpeed Insights score? Let’s look at some proven methods.
How to Improve Your Google PageSpeed Insights Score
You have a choice of options when it comes to improving your website performance, and Google PageSpeed Insights can help greatly. The following are four areas that should be your priorities when looking to improve your speed:
1: Optimise HTML and CSS
Code is often written so that anyone reading it can do so easily. This can, however, cause problems in terms of performance. It can lead to the presence of white spaces that do not need to be there, and to bulkier codes that are not as efficient as should be. Comments and line-breaks are also unnecessary, and by removing all of these – or ‘minifying’ – your coding, you can speed up the loading process.
There is a problem associated with minification, as it is known in the industry; it will certainly make the code more difficult for anyone to read. For this reason, you should only use this process after the site is settled and running, and when you are sure that major changes to the code will not be necessary.
Bear in mind that you will be attending to a large number of files that require minifying. This is going to be a time-consuming exercise and is also one that needs to be done very carefully. The upside is that once done, it will improve your site performance.
Here’s a shortcut for you: rather than go through each file and minify by hand, use an available tool such as CSS Nano or HTML Minifier, and let them do it for you!
2: Image Optimisation
This is an area in which a lot of time can be cut from your loading time. High-quality images, especially, can lead to slowing down of loading as they are ‘heavy’ files. What you need to do is compress your images into more compact files so they take less time to load.
This can be done by using one of many available tools – check out TinyPNG which is a popular one – and it is very simple. That particular tool allows you to work with 20 images at once, saving a lot of time for you.
These are simple tools to use, and the quality reduction will not be noticeable to your readers, but the load time improvement certainly will.
3: Browser Caching
Browser caching is when a website you visit saves certain files to your browser, making it quicker to load on future visits. As that data is already with you, it doesn’t need to load it a second time.
If you tell your server to cache certain files to a visitors browser when they visit, it will speed up the loading process. This is done by amending the ‘.htaccess’ file. You should only attempt this if you know what you’re doing, or if you have someone to hand who is experienced.
WordPress, in particular, makes this process very simple by way of plug-ins. For example WP Rocket
4: Above the Fold and Below the Fold Content
‘Above the Fold’ (ATF) content is that which appears when the website loads. ‘Below the Fold’ (BTF) content is that which the user will see when he or she scrolls through the site. The trick here is to optimise the website so that the ATF content loads as quickly as possible, and the BTF content when it is needed.
Some content may, for example, be instructed to load before it is actually necessary. This can apply to analytics platforms, which work in the background. What you need is the content your user wants to see to be given priority.
That’s the four main areas where you can use Google PageSpeed Insights to improve your loading speed, let’s just have a quick recap of why you need to use it.
Put simply, everyone gets frustrated by slow-loading websites, and they are far from uncommon. By utilising the effectiveness – not to mention ease of use – of Google PageSpeed Insights and implementing the above changes, you can make improvements fairly easily and quickly, and keep your readers on-site. Remember to look for that score above 70, and everything will be just fine!