Your Google PageSpeed score from Google's PageSpeed Insights tool is one of the most visible scores for a website owner.
Receive a low score in red, and you know that your website isn't up to standards. If you're reading this article, you probably know the feeling.
In this article, we'll discuss practical steps to get a perfect PageSpeed score on Google. Feel free to invite your web developer along for the ride. Let’s take a technical look at improving PageSpeed.
Why does a Google PageSpeed score matter?
A Google PageSpeed score of 90 or above is considered good. Fifty to 90 is a score that needs improvement, and below 50 is considered poor.
Do those scores really matter?
In other words, the PageSpeed of your site can have a big impact on conversion and bounce rates because first impressions matter. Customers are impatient, which is why another study from Google and Ipsos found that 77% of smartphone shoppers are more likely to purchase from companies whose mobile sites or apps allow them to make purchases quickly.
There's certainly a business case to be made around a good PageSpeed. But, there are also some common myths around a perfect Google PageSpeed score.
Limitations of Google PageSpeed scores
While PageSpeed score can be a valuable metric for evaluating website performance and improving customer experience, it does have some limitations.
Some of the limitations to be aware of before getting obsessed with obtaining a perfect 100 PageSpeed score include:
- User experience can't be captured with a single metric. Good user experience is not captured by a good PageSpeed score. That's why Google released Core Web Vitals standards to help quantify the user experience. Understanding the different metrics of Core Web Vitals is more important to your users' experience than PageSpeed.
- User experience can't be captured with a single “representative user.” PageSpeed scores are computed using a predetermined device and network settings. In other words, the metric doesn’t take into account real-world performance, which is highly variable due to differences in users’ devices (i.e., mobile vs. desktop), network connections (i.e., 3G or 4G), and other factors.
- User experience can't be captured by lab data as well as it can on field data. Field data is gathered from your actual users and takes into account what devices and networks your users are on and appropriately mirrors those conditions when testing performance. Lab data is performance data collected within a single, controlled environment. If you want to verify the real performance experienced by users, field data offers a more realistic view of what your users actually experience.
Bottom line is that a good PageSpeed score does not equal a good user experience. A site owner should care more about consistent speed improvements in the real world, because studies show a fast website can benefit from improved conversions.
With that said, let’s begin our exploration on how to get a perfect 100/100 PageSpeed score on Google's PageSpeed Insights.
10 tips for accomplishing a perfect PageSpeed score on Google
What steps have websites with perfect 100 Google PageSpeed scores taken to optimize their websites?
To help your business enjoy a fast website, we asked small business owners, digital marketers, plugin authors and web developers about the actions they have taken with their websites. From choosing a reliable hosting provider to image optimization, here are ten tips to help you get a perfect 100 for your Google PageSpeed score:
- Choose a fast, reliable hosting provider.
- Select a lightweight theme.
- Purge plugins.
- Optimize images.
- Browser caching.
- Code minification and compression.
- Content Delivery Network (CDN).
- Use multiple speed testing tools.
- Find an all-in-one, cloud-based service.
Read on to learn more.
1. Choose a fast, reliable hosting provider
Server response times are one of the top reasons for a slow loading time.
Many of the cheap hosting plans small businesses have are shared servers. Being on a shared server means that you are sharing your server’s processor and memory with several other websites, which can impact your performance.
Upgrading to a dedicated hosting plan at a reliable provider is the first step to take if you’re serious about web performance. The investment in dedicated hosting is considerably more than a shared hosting plan, but the benefits of fast loading times, high uptime availability, security and support.
There’s no solution that can overcome poor hosting, so consider the investment and choose wisely.
2. Select a lightweight theme
If you're on a CMS like WordPress, selecting a lightweight website theme is vital to load speed.
Several website themes come loaded with CSS code and large files that impact page size and increase the number of server requests.
The more server requests and the larger a page file size may be, the longer it may take to deliver your theme and site content to a user.
That's why a poorly written website theme can significantly increase your website’s load time. Selecting a lightweight theme with clean source code can reduce dependent requests, eliminate unused code or CSS files, and address the majority of speed issues.
"We recently switched our website to a streamlined Elementor theme from a more cumbersome one," says Thorin Yee of Best Companies AZ. "By investing in a lightweight theme, we were able to eliminate CSS and JS files that slowed down our site. The foundation of a website is critical. If you’re putting in the effort to change your site speed, it won’t have much of an impact if the site itself is not structurally optimal."
Rewriting or changing a website theme is a tough choice to make as a small business owner because of the investment. But again, there’s no remedy for a bloated website theme, so select your foundation carefully.
3. Purge plugins
Go easy on the plugins.
The more third-party plugins you add to a website, the slower a site can become. That’s why it’s a bad idea to use five or six plugins to optimize different aspects of a website, such as addressing render-blocking resources or unoptimized images.
Instead, it can be much more convenient to install and monitor a single tool that accomplishes speed optimization objectives.
Installing additional plugins can add significant overhead to your server and end up increasing load times. Try researching plugins and monitoring your site’s performance using lab data after adding or deactivating each one. Once you've found an optimal plugin mix, test out performance scores over a 28-day period using field data to see if the site has improved.
5. Optimize images
Using an image format like WebP can help improve a performance score, since WebP lossless images are 26% smaller in size compared to PNGs and 25%-34% smaller than JPEGs. Reducing the image size or deferring offscreen images can also improve mobile experience and decrease bandwidth usage.
"Image optimizations are especially important for mobile users, since Google is mobile-first indexing and large image files take up data on mobile," says Carey Wilbur of Charter Capital. "Not only will resizing or reformatting images to next-gen formats help PageSpeed Insights, it'll also help you keep people on your website longer. Which is a win all away around."
6. Browser caching
When a website loads, information like static content, a CSS file, external resources, scripts, and more needs to be requested. These requests all impact loading speed.
Browser caching gives a web browser the choice of retrieving that information from a previously stored version or the server.
This can make a big difference in terms of how quickly a web page loads.
To see a big boost in PageSpeed scores, enable browser caching using an all-in-one plugin, a specific caching plugin, or a managed hosting service.
7. Code minification and compression
Code minification modifies files and makes them compact, thereby improving website performance through compression of clean code.
If all that sounds technical, many plugins today offer code minification and compression as a feature. Research all-in-one plugins to ensure that they have this functionality.
8. Content Delivery Network (CDN)
Content delivery networks (CDNs) offload the resource requests that can bog down the loading times of a page's main content. For example, using a CDN to cache images and content enables pages to load more quickly for users accessing web pages with large resources.
CDNs may sound technical, but this should be a feature included by a reliable hosting provider. Check with your web host to see if you have access to a CDN, and if so, see if it can be enabled to help address slow page speed.
9. Use multiple speed testing tools
While PageSpeed Insights is the most visible speed testing tool for small businesses, there are several other performance tools that can offer different perspectives on how to improve page speed.
Here's a list of performance tools and their benefit to website owners:
Lighthouse: Gives you personalized advice on how to improve your website across performance, accessibility, PWA, SEO, and other best practices.
WebPageTest: Allows you to compare the performance of one or more pages in a controlled lab environment, and deep dive into performance stats and test performance on a real device.
TestMySite: Allows you to diagnose webpage performance across devices and provides a list of fixes for improving the experience from Webpagetest and PageSpeed Insights.
PageSpeed Insights: Shows speed field data for your site, alongside suggestions for common optimizations to improve it.
Speed Scorecard: Allows you to compare your mobile site speed against your peers in over 10 countries. Mobile site speed is based on real-world data from the Chrome User Experience Report.
Impact Calculator: Allows you to estimate the potential revenue opportunity of improving your mobile site speed, based on benchmark data from Google Analytics.
Chrome Developer Tools: Allows you to profile the runtime of a page, as well as identify and debug performance bottlenecks.
Marketers may enjoy using TestMySite, Impact Calculator and Speed Scorecard to measure ROI while developers may get more benefit from using PageSpeed Insights, Lighthouse, Chrome Developer Tools or WebPageTest to identify and correct performance issues.
10. Find an all-in-one, cloud-based service
Our website, Markitors.com, did all of the steps above and topped out our PageSpeed scores at 75/100 on mobile, and 95/100 on desktop.
We needed an all-in-one service that combined caching, image optimization, lazy loading, code minification and compression to put our site to a perfect score.
For that, we turned to NitroPack.
"NitroPack combines everything needed for a fast website in one service," says Deyan Georgiev, CEO at NitroPack. "Our built-in features and their unique implementation in one cloud-based service lead to our outstanding performance."
After installing a paid plan of NitroPack on Markitors.com we saw our 75/100 score on mobile and 95/100 score on desktop go directly to a perfect 100/100.
Unfortunately, there’s no quick fix to get a perfect 100 on your Google PageSpeed scores. In most cases, you or an experienced web developer will have to dig into your site’s code and optimize it.
It's a journey.
But, as demonstrated in this article, there are immediate steps you can take to make your website faster and get close to a perfect 100 score.
If you're looking for an immediate boost with minimal time spent on improving page speed, consider investing in a fast, reliable hosting plan and installing an all-in-one, cloud-based service like NitroPack.
Or, if these steps are over your head or low on your priority list, forward this article to an experienced web developer so they can get started on improving your site performance.
The hardest step to improving is often the first one. Hopefully, these steps will help you achieve a perfect 100 Google PageSpeed score and improve your customer experience as a result.