Google PageSpeed Insights (PSI) provides lab and field performance data for ecommerce websites and offers suggestions on how each page can be improved. This information is immensely useful for merchants, as it helps them identify and debug backend issues appearing on mobile sites and desktop browsers. Additionally, Google PageSpeed Insights captures user experience data, a crucial component of ecommerce optimization.
Online retailers receive what's called a Google PageSpeed score, which helps them know where they stand among competitors and how they can improve their performance score. Read on to learn how scores are determined, what they mean, why page speed optimization matters, how to increase your PageSpeed performance score.
What Is a Google PageSpeed Score?
Google Page Insights generate performance scores for online merchandisers. The free service runs the open-source tool Lighthouse to collect information, analyze data, and present automated guidance on improvements.
Your Google PageSpeed Insights score is a summary of your website's performance. If you score 90 or higher on your page speed score, your site performance is considered not only good but likely better than most competitors. A page speed score of 50 to 89 needs improvement and anything below that is considered a poor psi score.
Why Page Speed Matters in Ecommerce
So why does any of this matter? Google page speed is a critical aspect of user experience. Simply put, visitors are more likely to stay on fast websites and thus more likely to purchase a product, sign up for a service, or otherwise generate a conversion. Additionally, when a page load is quick, shoppers will have a more positive outlook on your site’s performance and are more likely to return.
Beyond the impression page speed has on your site visitors, it matters to Google. The search engine prioritizes websites with faster loading times, meaning they have a better chance of appearing on the first page of search results.
While site load speed is one of many SEO (search engine optimization) factors Google accounts for, it shouldn't be overlooked when creating a digital marketing plan.
How Fast Should a Site Load?
Most websites load in about six seconds. Generally speaking, most consumers are willing to tolerate a six-second delay, but anything longer like lazy loading might affect your bottom line. As the world modernizes and shoppers begin to expect to find what they're looking for in an instant, every millisecond counts when it comes to loading speed.
To gain a competitive advantage in your industry, aim for a speed index of three seconds or less. Next year, you might shoot for a website speed of two seconds.
How Does Bounce Rate Correlate to Page Speed?
A "bounce" means someone visits a site and leaves quickly without engaging. Your bounce rate is the percentage of visitors that bounce. The average bounce rate is about 58%, though a "good" rate depends on various factors, like your industry and whether you're a B2B or B2C merchant. All that said, the lower the bounce rate, the better.
As noted above, shoppers are more likely to stay on websites that load quickly, which is why a fast page speed can help reduce your bounce rate. Site speed is the number one complaint among mobile shoppers. What's more, Google is more likely to run ads on websites where visitors stay longer.
The PageSpeed Insights tool offers insight into what may be slowing a website down and how an online store can be improved to reduce its bounce rate. In the end, the tool helps merchants compete in the online space.
4 Ways to Increase Page Speed
With the help of Lighthouse, Google Page Insights will generate specific suggestions as to what may raise your score. That said, there are a few tried-and-true ways to improve page speed, including compressing images, using browser caching, minifying HTML, and implementing AMPs. Here's what you should know.
Compress Your Images
Large image files are a common culprit of a slow page loading speed. Compressing your images can drastically improve your speed and thus your Google PageSpeed score. The key, however, is to create a smaller file without modifying the visual or compromising the quality, as low-quality images can affect SEO and user experience.
JPEGs, GIFs, and PNGs account for 96% of image traffic on the Internet. Luckily, compressing GIFs and PNGs typically doesn't affect the imagery. With JPEGs, you have to be a little more careful about the ratio.
Use Browser Caching
Browser caching involves temporarily storing recently downloaded web pages. So if a visitor has been to your site recently, it will load quickly the next time they visit because it doesn't have to re-download the assets.
As an online retailer, your server should have a caching policy in place to help shoppers' browsers determine when they can use a previously fetched web page. Google Page Insights may recommend a specific cache time, but generally speaking, it should store pages from the previous week at the very least. Some websites set their browser caching plugins to a full year for static assets.
Minify Your HTML
HTML minification involves minimizing the backend code of your ecommerce pages and script files. It's one of the most effective methods of reducing load times and improving user experience.
Google PSI can detect which parts of your HTML could be minified to increase your page speed. The suggestions often include removing redundant or otherwise unnecessary code without affecting how it's processed in a browser. You might also get recommendations to reformat your HTML or shorten function names and variables.
AMP is short for Accelerated Mobile Pages, which are essentially stripped-down versions of HTML for existing site content. AMPs load substantially faster than standard web pages, which is why implementing them is often recommended to improve mobile page speed.
There are a few ways to implement accelerated mobile pages. However, the general process involves creating a basic AMP, then adding in structured data, and monitoring your individual pages for performance.
How Magento Page Builder Optimized T3 Micro's Website Speed
T3 Micro is a leading manufacturer of luxury hair styling tools with 13 websites. While the brand has a loyal following, it turned to Guidance with the goal of encouraging repeat shoppers, driving ongoing engagement, enhancing user experience, and increasing conversion rates.
One primary focus of the rebuild was optimizing the image-heavy resource loads with careful layout structure and fade-in sections. Additionally, Guidance developers created a mobile-first design that highlighted the high-tech features and beautiful silhouettes of T3's product offerings.
Magento Page Builder made this all possible without affecting the frontend experience. Upon merging HTML from all 13 sites into a single compressed code base, the extension now allows T3 to efficiently manage its high volume of content in one place. Ultimately, Magento Page Builder helped optimize the merchant's site speed, which supported its goals of increasing conversions, improving engagement, and driving revenue.
Consider Partnering with a Web Developer
In the end, the best way to score 100% on Google Page Insights is to get your initial score and implement the performance optimization recommendations. Some suggestions are relatively straightforward, while others are a bit more complex. To improve your score without affecting your SEO or frontend experience, the best course of action is to partner with an experienced web developer like Guidance.
With over 25 years in the ecommerce development industry, the team at Guidance knows its way around each component of the page speed index, including optimized imagery, HTML, AMPs, and browser caching. Contact us today!