Last time, we told you how page speed is super important to user experience, and in getting your dealership to rank higher in search results. Now, let’s explore three valuable tools that can help you assess your page speed and identify any red flags.
Page Speed Insights
Last week we introduced Google’s Page Speed Insights, one of the popular ways of understanding site performance. Why is it so popular? Because the goal is to rank higher on Google, and PageSpeed Insights is Google telling us exactly what they value. That’s pretty valuable information. And it’s super-easy to access. Not only does Google make PageSpeed Insights available via the website, but you can also install the Google Chrome extension “Lighthouse”.
Lighthouse allows you to analyze the page you’re currently on with just the press of a button. Don’t feel like installing yet another extension? No worries, if you’re using Google Chrome, you already have Lighthouse available and can run the report from inside the Lighthouse tab, found in the developer’s console window. You can reach it by right clicking in the page and selecting “Inspect Element” if you have developer tools enabled (in the browser settings) or by pressing Command + Option + J on Mac and Control + Shift + J on Windows.
- Progressive Web App: Tests to ensure the web application can reach anyone and any device with a single code base.
- Best Practices: Tests to ensure the page meets best practice security standards.
- Accessibility: Tests to ensure the visually impaired/screen readers are capable of reading content on the page.
- SEO: Tests for baseline Search Engine Optimization factors.
The first section in the report is what Google calls “Lab Data.” These are the standards that Google will grade your page speed on, and include:
- First Contentful Paint – Time it takes for the first image or text to be rendered.
- Speed Index – Time to visual elements completely rendered (does not include scripts).
- Largest Contentful Paint – Time it takes for the largest area of text or image is rendered.
- Time to Interactive – Time it takes for the page to become fully interactive.
- Total Blocking Time – Total intermediate times between First Contentful Paint and Time to Interactive.
- Cumulative Layout Shift – Tests for movement of the content within the viewport (content viewing area).
You may have noticed that most of these checkpoints are focused on when content is being loaded on the page. Like we covered in the last episode, Google wants to be able to crawl your site faster, so the faster it can start seeing content, the better. So to do so we want to ensure anything that keeps the content from loading or that is “render blocking”, to a minimum and load anything that’s not essential after the content is loaded. The two major checkpoints that you’ll want to pay attention to are the Largest Contentful Paint or LCP and Total Blocking Time. These two factors make up for a combined 50% of your overall score, 25% each. Your aim should be to keep your LCP under a 2 second load time, and your Total Blocking Time under 300 milliseconds.
The Opportunities section is really where the meat and potatoes of this report are. This is where you’ll find areas of improvement that directly affect your page speed, as well as a description on how to improve them with links to further explanations. Be sure to join us next week when I’ll be going over some of the most common ways to improve your site’s performance. For now, I encourage you to run a report on your site and pay close attention to this section. You can also find further improvements in the Diagnostics section. Though, the factors in this section don’t directly affect your score, they can be helpful in pinpointing problem areas and informing your optimizations.
You can also cross reference these reports with a GTMetrix analysis to give yourself a more complete understanding of your page speed. Though GTMetrix won’t give you the separation of Mobile and Desktop, it will give you an in-depth understanding of your load order, as well as other opportunities. GTMetrix measures a lot of the same points that PageSpeed Insights does, but on a different scale and with a bit more on page explanation. You’ll definitely want to check out the YSlow and Waterfall tabs in this report.
Next time, we’re going to wrap things up with 5 Actionable Steps you should be taking to optimize your site’s performance.