What is Google PageSpeed (and what is not)?
The PageSpeed test from Google is a performance test for web pages. On the basis of a checklist, it is examined which possible performance improvements are missing on the website. On this basis, a score between 0 and 100 is calculated. Only when all possible performance improvements have been implemented is a score of 100 given.
It is first and foremost important to emphasize that these possible performance improvements are not only related to speed. For example, the test also includes checks on user-friendliness for mobile users (for example, are the buttons large enough to be pressed with a finger?). So Google puts you on the wrong track with the name ‘PageSpeed’.
Furthermore, the test only indicates the possible performance improvements of your website; it is not said that implementing these techniques actually yields a faster website. The test does not actually measure the loading speed (like for example Pingdom Tools), but only goes through a checklist. This is a very important difference compared to other tests, and a common misunderstanding.
The checklist in the PageSpeed test consists of a long list of individual points. At any point your website does not meet, Google offers a suggestion for performance improvement. However, implementing such an improvement can sometimes mean that your website no longer satisfies another point.
Compare it with a car: for better performance, various improvements are possible. Think of a stronger engine, less weight, the right tire pressure and an aerodynamic construction. A spoiler on the back of the car improves the aerodynamic construction and scores on that performance point. At the same time, the weight of the car increases, so you do not score anymore on that point.
Your website would thus be able to score better according to the PageSpeed test if all CSS (code for layout styling) is loaded faster (at the top) of the page. When you apply that improvement, however, the test will advise loading only the CSS needed for display above the fold. Your PageSpeed score may now even deteriorate by solving this suggestion.
Moreover, implementing a performance improvement can sometimes simply not because it conflicts with other objectives of your website. For example when you use Google Analytics because the visitor statistics are very important to you. You have placed the tracking code exactly as Google itself indicates. However, the PageSpeed test now marks the tracking code as a slowing factor in the PageSpeed test. The question is now; Do you want to drop statistics tracking and thus score a point? Probably that is not an option for you.
Finally, it is good to know that Google regularly adjusts the algorithm in the PageSpeed test, which means that the score of your website may fluctuate.
What does Google do with your PageSpeed in its search engine?
Exact Google does not provide accurate information about its search algorithm, but it is well known that the Google PageSpeed score is a factor in the algorithm of its search engine. The weighting of PageSpeed is, however, very small, and is not in comparison with, for example, a good current content strategy or valuable link building.
Furthermore, Google has indicated that good performance on mobile devices is weighing more and more. The PageSpeed test also calculates the loading time of one page, but just as important is the loading time between different pages on your website, so when a visitor clicks through to other pages.
What do you do with Google PageSpeed results?
Yet it is true that every bit helps. Suggestions that the PageSpeed test does, are certainly worth trying to improve. However, do not view the PageSpeed test as the holy grail. Of course, it’s nice if the PageSpeed test points to possible improvements, but really see them as a help; a list of suggestions for improvement where you have to find a mix for the best possible score. Who knows, it is indeed possible to reduce the size of images, but if they become blurred while they are of great importance for your online objectives, then you should take a slightly worse score in PageSpeed for granted.