Why is Google's Page Speed important?

Mon 28th Aug 2017

When we build sites, we’ve started to put a lot of emphasis on ensuring that the end result scores well in Google Page Speed Insights….but why are we doing that? After all:

  1. Page Speed Insights has been independently tested to account for less than 1% of the overall influence on your position in Google search results
  2. Done without planning or thinking, strictly following the recommendations of an insights report can actually be detrimental to your site’s user experience

So it’s definitely not because a good score guarantees a good site! What it does show however is that real thought and planning went into your site – if you cobble together a site using whatever frameworks and plugins will get the job done quickest for you, then you’re unlikely to end up with a high score, and you’ll also find it difficult to retrospectively improve whatever score you do land on.

The highest scores, and the coveted 100/100, can only realistically be achieved if you consider page speed right from the start of your project, and design and build it accordingly. For clarity, this does not mean imposing limits on your creativity – Google page speed does not care about how many animations, images or videos you use after all, merely that you deliver them to the user in the most optimised way possible. What it does mean is that you need to sit down and think about that delivery – how can you load as little as possible, as quickly as possible, for your user to experience your website without ruining the ‘feel’ you’re looking for?

By doing so, you end up with a properly thought-out project – one where every image and video, every animation and transition, every font is considered about the relative merits it brings over the overhead that will come with it. You end up asking “is this necessary, or is it just fluff?” a lot, and the end result is something that delivers – without compromise – everything you need in your project, without the clutter.

Sites that score well against Google’s page speed insights will load faster, and done properly the user will be none the wiser as to the optimisations you’ve made. They’ll get content and core functionality delivered and ready to use sooner, with the glitz added in the background for them later and without them knowing.

The same studies that demonstrated that the page speed score itself didn’t really influence search engine rankings (see Empirical Study of Web Site Speed on Search Engine Rankings –http://www.websiteoptimization.com/speed/tweak/website-speed-search-rankings-study/)  also found that the speed at which your site starts sending content to a user – the ‘time to first byte’ made a much bigger difference, so it stands to reason that the faster your site loads, the better it will perform.

In summary, we think page speed insights are important because:

  1. it demonstrates up-front project planning and considered development processes
  2. it indicates that your site is built for you and your project rather than just being a bunch of developer-preferred frameworks and plugins thrown together

In our opinion, those two points alone are more than worth paying attention to the insights report.

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