It is easy to test the page speed scores of your website using tools like GT Metrix, Google Page Speed, and Web.dev/Measure.
Since 2010 Page speed has been a metric that Google uses to determine the ranking of a page in search results. In 2016 Google announced that it was going to focus on the mobile version of a site for ranking. Google was attempting to reach mobile first indexing for all sites by 2020. In May 2020 Google announced that it would be using data from it’s page speed and user experience tools (Google Page Speed and Lighthouse) to influence page ranking.
In short what all of this means is that websites must load quickly on mobile. Page speed insights scores could become a significant factor for ranking in search results.
When you are browsing the web, how long do you wait for a site to load on your phone? Statistics say that people start to bounce if they have to wait more than 2 or 3 seconds. Page speed also has a huge impact on conversion rates. Slow sites miss opportunities to interreact with their visitors.
So now that you have used Page Speed Insights and see some obvious problems, what do you do?
Here’s a real world example from a client:
There is a lot of red and it doesn’t look good.
Ideally a WordPress website is built from the start to include page speed and user experience.
Sometimes there is no way around the fact that the way a site has been built will make it nearly impossible to optimize. This often results from ‘bloat : too many plugins, poorly coded plugins or a theme or page builder that performs poorly. These kinds of issues may require backtracking and doing some rebuild work. The project above did require a rebuild.
Here are some of the steps we went through for optimization:
- Re-theme – choose a different WordPress theme
- Re-work the design to eliminate all sliders.
- Use a different Page Builder plugin – some are much faster than others. (I use Beaver Builder)
- Optimize images, scale them correctly for different screen resolutions and use WEBP replacements.
- Fine tune the caching. (Using WP Rocket)
- Use WP Rocket’s critical CSS.
- Reduce the number of fonts.
- Create a custom icon set to serve only the necessary icons.
- Remove all unused files from loading where they are not needed.
Here’s where the site is now:
Can we get the site to rank even higher? Here are some things that can still be done:
- Upgrade hosting to a service like Cloudways. (I am an affiliate, so thanks if you use my link.)
- Use a CDN.
Hoisting is a crucial component of page speed.
I use A2 hosting LiteSpeed servers and have recently started looking into Cloudways. Cloudways has great reviews and offers a fantastic service that doesn’t get bogged down by the bottleneck problems that shared hosting has. The verdict is out, but I’m going to clone the site in the examples above onto Cloudways and check the speed, I’ll update once I have something to show.
Here’s what Cloudways boasts: