Google PageSpeed Insights – A Common Sense Guide for WordPress Users

Pay attention, let’s hold it actual, I don’t assume you need to use PageSpeed Insights until you’re a developer. PageSpeed has its heart in the appropriate place, however it’s not meant for the typical WordPress website owner and the reviews it offers are ripe for misinterpretation.

Have you ever ever watched the present Silicon Valley? One of many important characters is Richard, the CEO of a tech startup. He’s a programming genius however socially inept. He has great intentions and a grand imaginative and prescient, but as a pacesetter, he doesn’t do the perfect job at communicating his imaginative and prescient and is notoriously ineffective at public speaking.

PageSpeed Insights has so much in widespread with Richard: they both have great concepts and talk them poorly.

The essential message of PageSpeed Insights could possibly be translated as follows:

  • Hold your pages mild and simple.
  • Avoid pointless fanciness.
  • Think about cellular users, notably those that pay for every byte of knowledge.

Nevertheless, it goes about speaking these very strong rules in obscure and unhelpful ways.

PageSpeed - grade and colorBecause the actual verbiage is tough to know individuals as an alternative fall back on the elements that appear clear: the grade and the color. Misunderstanding and confusion abounds!

So let’s take a standard sense take a look at what this device does and the right way to interpret it’s socially awkward communication.

The underlying drawback

In recent times, the popularity of WordPress and other content material administration methods has made it very easy for individuals with minimal, or no improvement expertise in any respect, to construct overloaded sites that violate all the essential guidelines of efficiency. Net pages have turn into bloated and sluggish.

PageSpeed is an try and mitigate that.

For extra background on this difficulty in the context of one other Google challenge,  AMP,  do your self a favour and skim Caspar Hübinger’s submit for his enlightening take on that.

PageSpeed is principally saying, “Look, if you’re gonna put all that junk on your page, here’s what to look out for and how to mitigate the godawful performance impact.”

The very fact is, should you simply build a simple, light-weight web page, it is going to routinely rating better, and more importantly, your website can be quicker.

The very fact is, should you simply build a simple, lightweight page, it is going to mechanically rating better, and extra importantly, your website might be quicker. Click To Tweet

What does PageSpeed do?

PageSpeed Insights evaluates each web site according to some guidelines. The identical guidelines are utilized to each website, regardless of its viewers, content material or objective.

What PageSpeed Insights does not do, is measure the loading time. So it doesn’t truly inform you in case your page is quick. It solely tells you for those who’re obeying the principles or not. In principle, obeying the principles would get you a quick website, however that’s not all the time the case and in actuality the state of affairs is way more nuanced that the story PSI tells. It’s the equal of claiming that somebody who doesn’t carry out nicely on high strain standardized checks, isn’t clever. In fact, we all know that’s not the case.

PageSpeed’s concentrate on particular guidelines abstracts and masks some underlying points. It makes individuals give attention to a superficial grade relatively than on fixing the issues that affect efficiency at a foundational degree.

Let’s have a better take a look at the principles, what they mean, and how a lot you need to care about obeying them.

BONUS PDF: Demystify the jargon! Obtain this information to widespread velocity optimization terms.

The PageSpeed Rules

For reference, yow will discover all the PageSpeed Insights Guidelines here.

To make any sense of the reviews it provides you, you  must click on the specifics of every message, by clicking “Show how to fix”  to see the small print. Do not simply stop at the score without digging deeper, this gained’t assist you to in any respect.

PageSpeed - show how to fix

A observe about knowledge

I’m writing this article admittedly from my very own perspective as somebody who lives in a spot where knowledge is at present inexpensive. I’m a website owner whose main viewers is in first world nations the place knowledge can also be low cost and who are overwhelmingly using desktop computers to access my website. Nevertheless, if the audience for your website consists of people who rely on cellular units for web entry and for whom knowledge is dear, you will have to take a few of the suggestions extra critically. I’ll not worry about removing an extra 20KB of knowledge from my web page, but you might have to.

A word about 3rd get together content

I’m going to seek advice from third get together content material rather a lot on this submit. third get together content means information loaded in your website from domains that are not yours. Whenever you click “show how to fix” and are introduced with an inventory of information, simply take a look at the area to determine if the content is served from your personal area, or external, third social gathering sources. The most typical varieties of 3rd celebration content material are social media widgets/buttons, monitoring scripts like Google Analytics, and ad scripts. Too much third social gathering content goes to make your website slower.

And now, the principles…

Avoid touchdown web page redirects

What it truly means: Principally, check the correct model of your URL.  If it’s https, use https not http
In case you use www, use that version of the url, not the model with out www.

In reality it’s nice that the other versions of your URL redirect to the primary one – that’s desirable so that if a visitor for some purpose tries to use the incorrect one, they do end up at the right model.

However since these redirects take time, as a lot as potential all links to your website ought to use the first version so that users don’t expertise any unnecessary delays. When testing your website on any device, you need to use the first version to keep away from adding pointless time.

Here’s an instance. The primary version of my url is
Word the https and lack of www.

So if I check, I’ll get this message:

Google PageSpeed- Avoid landing page redirects

How much do you have to care?
A lot because you need to be conscious of  what the primary version of your URL is. In any other case all the velocity exams you do shall be skewed. Fortuitously it’s very straightforward to repair – just sort within the right URL!

Enhance server response time

What it truly means: your server is sluggish.

The quicker your server responds, the quicker the webpage might be delivered to the customer. There are numerous attainable the reason why the server can be sluggish. So far as WordPress sites go, the most typical are:

  • Lack of caching
  • Poor internet hosting
  • Sluggish plugins

Should you do have already got caching and get this message, attempt operating the check again in case it hit an uncached page beforehand. In case you don’t have caching at the server degree (ask your host), then undoubtedly add a web page caching plugin (e.g. WP Rocket, Quickest Cache and so on).

How much do you have to care?
A lot!  Though PageSpeed isn’t doing a full velocity check, a sluggish server response may be the beginning of a sluggish load time and may indicate underlying issues. Even an Olympic sprinter will discover it onerous to make up the time towards the remainder of the sector if she will get a sluggish begin.

Optimize photographs

What it truly means: the file sizes of the pictures in your page are too giant.

Huge, chunky pictures are one among important causes of net web page slowness, however thankfully it’s straightforward for you to regulate. This suggestion is essential except when it’s complaining about a number of bytes of knowledge. So you actually have to concentrate to the amount of knowledge it says you can save. This may be very true for those who’ve already optimized your photographs, it might nonetheless complain about a number of bytes here and there. Take a look at the entire quantity to be saved after which the financial savings per picture to determine in case you can and will take action. Likelihood is, should you haven’t achieved something already to optimize your photographs, you will have to take action here.

Within the following instance the savings is 699 bytes which is tiny and I’m not going to fret about it.

PageSpeed Insights - Optimize images

PageSpeed will flag any and all photographs on your website, even when they arrive from third events. For example, if in case you have an Instagram widget on your website those pictures will possible be listed. But you’ll be able to’t optimize these because you haven’t any management over them, only Instagram does. So both remove them from your website, scale back the quantity,  or accept they will decelerate your web page and PageSpeed will all the time warn you about them.

How much you must care?
A lot!  Optimizing your pictures is a simple win. In case you have too many third celebration pictures, you must definitely contemplate eradicating them. In a case where PSI is splitting hairs about a number of bytes of knowledge, then don’t worry and go about your life.

Allow compression

What it truly means: Compression, both using GZIP or Brotli, is a option to scale back the dimensions of information as they’re transferred from the server to the visitor’s browser.

How a lot do you have to care?
If the information are served from your area then it is best to care so much! Smaller information means quicker switch and quicker loading time. So this can be a essential function to have on your website. Most caching plugins will apply the required directives to compress your information, and most servers help this by default lately, and in the event that they don’t it is best to significantly think about shifting hosts – it’s that essential and rudimentary.

Nevertheless, you possibly can’t apply compression to information from third events. If the record of external information is brief, don’t fear and move on. However, the longer the record of third celebration information, the more you must attempt to reassess in the event you want those at all.

Leverage browser caching

What it truly means: Browser caching improves performance for visitors who go to multiple pages in your website or go to your website a number of occasions. It permits their pc to retailer generally used information in the browser which suggests pages might be displayed quicker on these repeat visits. Most servers help it by default.

How a lot do you have to care?
If the information are served from your domain it is best to care lots! Like compression, it’s a foundational optimization method. Most caching plugins will apply this for you. But as with different guidelines, it could solely be utilized to information served from your personal website, not these from 3rd parties.

If the listing of 3rd celebration information is long then it’s an indicator that you’ve an excessive amount of 3rd celebration content material and you need to contemplate removing some.

How a lot is too much? This could really range relying on what the content is, but when there’s greater than say, 4 information listed, it might be one thing to take a look at.

Minify assets – HTML, JS, CSS

What it truly means: Minification is the process of stripping out extraneous whitespace and comments from HTML, CSS and JavaScript information. In concept this will scale back the file measurement, which in principle might make the information quicker to obtain. You possibly can liken it to utilizing single spacing as an alternative of double spacing when writing a doc, to save lots of paper.

As a result of it does have the power to scale back file measurement, it’s thought-about to be a greatest follow. In actuality it’s unlikely to save lots of a big enough amount of knowledge to actually have an effect on loading time. Increasingly more themes and plugins are minifying their information so that you don’t should. Typically minification can break something on your website, so that you additionally need to be careful for that.

Once more, you must click the small print to see how a lot knowledge could be saved, and in many instances, it’s very minimal.

Google PageSpeed - Minify recommendation

How much do you have to care?
It’s very straightforward to do – many plugins exist for this function, together with caching plugins – so chances are you’ll as nicely attempt it. The extra knowledge that may be saved, the extra you must care about it. However normally it doesn’t have an effect on the actual load time of the web page, so until the general financial savings is critical, don’t lose sleep about it.

The subsequent three messages are primarily makes an attempt to mitigate the unfavorable efficiency influence of building overly complicated pages.

Prioritize seen content material

What it truly means: This can be a robust one to wrap your head round should you’re not a developer. Think about your webpage is sort of a jigsaw puzzle. The pieces are HTML, CSS and JS information. Your theme and every plugin every provide multiple puzzle items. The browser has to retrieve all of the pieces and then fit them collectively to type the whole picture of your web page and that takes time. The highest part of your page, that which the consumer sees with out scrolling, is crucial for perceived efficiency, that is, how fast it feels for the visitor.

Now think about that prime part of the puzzle is 1 single piece that might be identified and displayed shortly, and the remaining could possibly be assembled after as a result of the consumer already has one thing to take a look at. The location would really feel quicker to the visitor.

That is the aim of this rule. PageSpeed  needs the top a part of your website to display utilizing as few items as potential – ideally simply 1 – a block of HTML that accommodates enough information to display and elegance the visible part of the page. If the browser has to go find other items from the box to complete the highest part of the puzzle, you’ll get the “Prioritize visible content” message.

A common website that suffers from this situation is That’s because the content that is finally displayed at the prime of the page doesn’t load in till after other parts, so you’re left waiting with a partially clean display and no real content material to view while the web page is assembled:

In additional technical phrases, if the crucial path CSS for your website shouldn’t be correct and different CSS information, or JS information are required to display the seen a part of the web page, you’ll see this message. This article has one of many better explanations I’ve found of why this message is displayed.

It’s typically paired with the “Eliminate render-blocking JavaScript and CSS”  messages described under. In case you’ve tried to apply those render-blocking optimizations utilizing automated plugin options, but the results aren’t 100% right for your website, you’ll probably see this message. When you haven’t tried any of these optimizations, it could possibly be the best way your theme is coded and that wouldn’t be a simple repair.

How a lot do you have to care?

This message is usually about perceived performance, and consumer experience, not general load time. So it is best to check your website on desktop and cellular and see how dangerous the difficulty is. If the location feels fast, don’t fear.  This might be onerous to repair as a non-developer for those who don’t have the talents, or the cash to pay someone who does have the talents. I mean, can’t even fix it 😉

What you’ll be able to attempt to do is to simplify your web page. The sorts of web sites almost certainly to be flagged are these which are unnecessarily fancy – that have sliders or other Javascript-dependent features at the prime. So in case you do have something like a slider at the prime, attempt replacing it with a static picture as an alternative.

Optimize CSS Delivery

Virtually each WordPress website proprietor will see this message, together with  the render-blocking JavaScript message (under). It’s also probably the most technically superior recommendations, notably once you’re using a system like WordPress where virtually every little thing is pre-built and not utterly beneath your control (no less than not without improvement chops).

What it truly means: The visual show of your website is managed by CSS information. Your theme and plugins will all load their own CSS information. Going again to the puzzle analogy, each CSS file is a puzzle piece that needs to be retrieved, so the extra you might have, the longer it might take to compose the puzzle. However we all know Google needs that first puzzle piece to include all the required information. So it needs you to figure out which CSS is needed solely for the top of the location, and as an alternative of loading it in its own file, or puzzle piece, as an alternative integrate that into the that first puzzle piece. That is referred to as the Important Path CSS.   This can give the quickest perceived loading time. All the opposite stuff will still be loaded, however later.

When you will have a WordPress website with multiple elements – theme, plugins and so on it’s fairly arduous to realize this with out being a developer. The problem lies in the fact that not all sites play properly with this optimization method. You possibly can easily break the show of your website by doing this and it’s arduous for non-developers to troubleshoot.

The consequences could be helpful notably for cellular, enhancing perceived efficiency by zero.5 seconds or more, per my own exams (your mileage might range).

However because of the complexity, if an automated device, like a plugin, doesn’t work for you, either pay a developer or focus your power on the issues you’ll be able to extra simply control.

For those who simplify your page basically, this can be much less of a problem.Again, something like a JavaScript slider on the prime of your web page might be the rationale this optimization technique gained’t work properly. So switching that to a static picture will probably be better all around.

How a lot do you have to care?

This is not where it is best to spend probably the most time or power. In reality virtually every part else on the listing must be prioritized over this. Having a heavyweight web page however making an attempt to apply this system is like making an attempt to patch up a dam with a band-aid, and it has the potential to cause show issues. Simplifying your page can be the higher strategy to strategy this.

Remove render-blocking JavaScript

What it truly means: That is one other a really developer-centric one.  JavaScript information are one other sort of puzzle piece  which take time to seek out and organize. Not only that, however nothing else could be completed on the web page while these items are being arranged. So this optimization technique is a method to delay the arranging of these items so that the remainder of the puzzle can shape, making the page feel quicker for users, and these pieces will probably be slotted in on the finish. Implementing this system principally helps the perceived velocity on cellular units. Numerous plugins exist that will help you do this simply, but it will possibly break things and in that case, it takes some technical talent to fix. The technical identify for this system is deferring the loading of JavaScript information.

How a lot do you have to care?

Along with Optimize CSS Supply, I put this in the category of things to do only when you’ve got the know-how. However it shouldn’t be your precedence. Attempt it, but when it causes functionality issues, don’t sweat it.  Most of the time, just making an easier web page will clear up this message at a elementary degree and that’s the strategy I’d advocate. Deferring the loading of JavaScript information is a band-aid answer to the difficulty of getting too many JavaScript information within the first place.

BONUS PDF: Demystify the jargon! Obtain this information to widespread velocity optimization terms.

Last Word on PageSpeed

Usually, PageSpeed is a device that can wave its hand usually in the path of some issues on your website, while missing some essential guidelines like making use of caching, decreasing web page weight and so forth. It’s greatest used by builders; the typical consumer will in all probability come away with the fallacious impression of their website’s efficiency.  So ensure you’re utilizing an actual velocity testing software as properly.