Websites are important, we can all agree on that. Most people search for everything online these days, from products to services, even tips and ideas for traveling.
Let’s say you are a website owner or a marketer trying to improve sales and generate more revenue for your company. You know that you need to do everything you can to improve the user experience and make your website visually appealing to your visitors. Luckily, there are lots of tools and options out there to help you with that. Therefore, you should use performance-enhancing tools (some of them we will mention further down in the article) to make sure you are optimizing your site in the right way.
For example, you can use the Speed Scorecard to see how fast your mobile site is, or you can use the Impact Calculator to calculate the potential revenue and the opportunity of earning higher revenue once you improve your site speed.
There is a lot of guidance out there published by Google about performance and different data regarding performance. The goal is to show website owners and developers the importance of constantly updating their site and making sure it is working properly. However, there are some misconceptions about website performance in general.
For example, user experience cannot be captured by a single metric, which is why PageSpeed analyses several metrics to create a page score that you can later use to optimize your site for a better experience. Also, real-world performance varies a lot due to some differences in devices, network connections, and other factors that depend on the external environment for each user. That is why you need to calibrate your environment to test different conditions and use different parameters, such as mobile and desktop, or 3G and 4G.
What is Google PageSpeed Insights
Google PageSpeed is a performance index of your webpage, and there are two types of PageSpeed indexes: desktop and mobile. Mobile, being the more popular device type for viewing sites, has stricter rules for performance. Also, PageSpeed Insights gives you some suggestions that you can then use to improve your webpage (here’s an extensive tutorial on how to use Google PageSpeed Insights to analyse web pages).
There are two types of data being used when analyzing your site, lab and field data. Lab data is useful for debugging and fixing performance issues but may not portray the real-world data very well. Field data, on the other hand, is used to portray the true and real-world experience. However, it comes with a more limited set of metrics and limited debugging capabilities.
PageSpeed is an important metric to analyze and keep an eye on as it is a performance metric. And we all know that performance affects user experience, retention rates, and conversion rates. Similarly, this will have an effect on your site’s performance and customers as well.
There is a lot of research being done on this topic which reports that you can lose up to half of your prospective clients due to a slow site. Other features such as calls to action, having a visually appealing site, and the design of the site are also important.
The performance score summarizes the overall performance of a specific page. When it comes to the scores, you want to have a number that is as high as possible. Above 90 is seen as good, 50 to 90 means you need to do some improvements to your site, and below 50 is considered as poor quality.
How does it work
When you type in a URL of a site you wish to check, the algorithm will look up several features of the site, such as the Chrome User Experience Report, the First Contentful Paint, the First Input Delay, the Largest Contentful Paint, and the Cumulative Layout Shift.
Then, it will classify these into 3 segments which describe the experience on the site as either good, needs improvement, or poor.
How can you check your stats
There are several methods you can use to test your PageSpeed:
1. PageSpeed Insights Test Page
This is probably the easiest way for you to test your site. Simply go to this website and paste your URL into the input field. Then, you will see your results and what needs to be improved.
2. Lighthouse in Chrome Dev Tools
Lighthouse is an open-source tool that lets you test your webpage, and you can do this straight from your browser. You just have to install Google Chrome, open DevTools, and click on the Lighthouse Tab.
Next, click on Generate Report and wait a few seconds before you get a full report on your site. To do this, you just submit an URL and the tool will run a series of audits. The report will tell you how well your site did and also what needs to be improved.
3. PageSpeed Insights API
This is the third and final method that we will mention here. It comes in handy for checking your PageSpeed programmatically. This API can be used without a key for some small requests, but for higher request rates you will need a key.
Here is a better overview of how to use the API.
What else can you do
Along with that, set up your server response time. This is the amount of time that your server will take to start loading page content.
Lastly, use browser caching to make sure your site loads faster and keep in mind your SEO and how it relates to your business.
A solution to all of your problems
Thanks to the rise of technology and the amazing skills of many developers, there is a plugin that can help you with all of this.
Hummingbird is a plugin developed by WPMU DEV. This plugin is designed to make your website faster and to optimize its performance.
The plugin can enable text compression as it uses gzip to make your site better. By sending zipped files you can save money on hosting and do things faster. It also pre-connects to required origins to establish earlier connections and preloads requests that prioritize resources on order.
WPMU DEV also have the Smush image optimization plugin that compresses your images and gives you faster load times. Meaning these two tools go hand in hand together.
The plugin also scans your site and provides a one-click fix to speed up your site. It will show you what files are slowing down your site and will provide tips on how to fix it. That way you get faster loading times, higher search rankings, and, ultimately, happier visitors.
There is also a really good caching system (as mentioned above) with a full-page Gravatar and browser cache tool. You also get performance reports with tips on how to run your site.
There is a feature for asset optimization so you can better position and minify JS and CSS files, and get better SEO, Pingdom, and GTmetrix ranking.
As you can see, Hummingbird is an easy to use tool with lots of features and options to help you improve the speed of your site. Probably the best thing about this plugin is that it is completely FREE.
There is also premium membership access if you need a really fast site. This gives you access to Hummingbird Pro with more features, such as automated scanning, uptime monitoring, enhanced minify compression, and image optimization. You can get the pro membership here.
Can I get a perfect score
Many of us have tried to get a perfect score on PageSpeed and many of us have failed. Some say it is even impossible to get the perfect score, but you can still try. If you want to see all it takes to get the highest score (and still fail), click here.
But remember, the higher the score, the better!
As you can see, a lot of little things go into trying to have a high score on PageSpeed. It is definitely not easy to do and requires constant checking and analyzing to see how your site is doing.
Luckily, Hummingbird is here, and this plugin can do a lot of the work for you as it is designed specifically for achieving higher site speed. Just remember to often check your site speed using any of the tools we mentioned above to ensure the best user experience.