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PageSpeed Insights: Testing Your Website Speed

June 24, 2017

Google’s PageSpeed Insights is a tool that can be used to test if a website is slower than it should be and provides a score that evaluates page performance. The thing is, a perfect score isn’t necessarily realistic.

Inactivity Can Harm Load Speed as Much as – if Not More Than – Bandwith

Serving fewer bytes to the user is just one part of the equation when it comes to speeding up your site’s load time. It also takes take some time for your request to simply reach the server, then in turn for the server to respond.

After you make a request by typing in a URL into the browser and pressing enter, a request is made, after which many things occur. The last part of this process is transferring the requested information which is impacted by bandwidth and content size. Every step of the process from finding the server through to receiving a response takes time.

The only way to cut back on the amount of time needed to reach the server is to physically bring the server closer to the end user. CDNs (Content Delivery Network) are used because they are physically closer to users.

It takes more than one request in order to load all of the necessary content to bring up a page. The browser will typically find that it needs to load more resources in order to load the page of the URL typed in corresponding to a webpage. It needs to go through all the necessary steps to load each file.

The good news is that after a server has been located, the browser does not have to look it up again.

Testing Both Reduced Inactivity and Bandwidth

All PageSpeed Insights evaluations cover items that may affect website speed. For larger websites, some may not exactly be that simple to implement. Depending on your website’s design, some could have a bigger effect than others. PageSpeed Insights has a variety of different rules that it says should be followed to both reduce bandwidth use and latency:

PageSpeed Insights rules for reducing bandwidth:

  • Optimize images
  • Enable compression
  • Minify HTML
  • Minify CSS
  • Minify JS

PageSpeed Insights rules for reducing latency:

  • Leverage browser caching
  • Reduce server response time
  • Avoid landing page redirects
  • Eliminate render-blocking JavaScript and CSS in above-the-fold content
  • Prioritize visible content

While these are helpful to some degree, they only go so far when it comes to website performance. In addition to these tests, there are some other things that you should consider:

  • Lowering how much content you load from a third-party domain
  • Caching content that’s in your control
  • Lowering server response time well past the minimum needed to pass PageSpeed Insights’ test.
  • Bringing the server and end user closer together
  • Lowering the number of blocking requests

Tips For Improvement of Website Speed

For starters, you can improve your website speed by implementing measurement tools. Chrome DevTools, for instance, is built into the browser and lets you identify precisely what’s happening when a page loads. You can load your page in Chrome, see how it performs, and check out what requests seem to take longer.

Next, set some goals. You need to understand what these are, as it will let you compare your site’s current performance to this goal.

Then, prioritize your page speed fixes and what actually must be loaded. PageSpeed Insights tries to determine whether you are prioritizing above-the-fold content, which is a great target. However, it may not necessarily be a perfect assessment, as it may be simpler to split your site’s content into “critical” and “non-critical” paths, no matter what’s above the fold.

Conclusion

While PageSpeed Insights is certainly useful in many instances, there are still other ways to evaluate and improve your website speed. A perfect score may sound good on paper, but it doesn’t necessarily guarantee a fast website.

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