The goal of many a blog owner is to get that magical 100 Google PageSpeed Insights Score. It is a lofty goal to be sure, but it is something that virtually nobody can attain. We are going to discuss why that is, and give some tips and pointers on how you can get as close as you possibly can to that goal of the Mythical 100 Google PageSpeed Insights Score.
Now if you are not familiar with Google PageSpeed Insights, you really should be. It is a fantastic tool that scans your site, and gives you some hints (not always with the best of wordings) on things you can do to make your site faster. And everyone knows, a faster site is a better site; and better sites get more visitors.
So if you have not done so before, click this link right here, and visit the Google PageSpeed Insights page, plug in the URL for your site’s homepage and analyze it. This way you can have a baseline for all the tips that we are going to be sharing with you right here. Go ahead and do it…we will wait for you.
Do you have your score? If you are like most folks, you probably have a score in the 60’s or 70’s. If you have already taken a few steps to make your site faster, you may even be so lucky as to have a score in the 80’s. Do not sweat this too hard. We are going to cover a few things you can do to get some jumps in your score.
How are we going to do this though? Glad you asked. If you look at the page with your score, you will see three distinct sections. They are labeled; “Should Fix”, “Consider Fixing”, and “Passed Rules”. If you have anything in the passed rules section, congratulations! You have already done a few things and are well on your way. But what about these other sections, and what does all of this technical jargon mean to me?
The three sections Google is showing you should be fairly obvious. “Should Fix” is the list of things that are really dragging your score down. “Consider Fixing” are things that bring it down a small amount, but are not as critical. And “Passed Rules” is a list of things that you have already done right, and do not need to really mess with.
In each section you may find a list of things that Google has found. If there is something, it is usually fairly cryptic as to what each thing means, much less how to fix it. The usual culprits on the list include:
- Optimize Images
- Enable compression
- Reduce server response time
- Minify CSS
- Minify HTML
Now there is a ton of articles out there that show you how to get a 100 Google PageSpeed Insights Score, but the bulk of them concern themselves with brand new installations of WordPress. I am going to show you how to get a much improved score with a site that has already been started. I am also going to save the bulk of the technical jargon for future posts, for those who want to learn what is going on, and to not drown out those who have no desire to know every little thing that is happening behind the scenes.
Now a few notes before we begin. I do not know what version of WordPress you have installed. Nor do I know what plugins or themes you happen to be using. Some of these tips and tricks will not work with every setup, so I recommend you try them one at a time, and ensure that everything is working like it should. If something goes wrong, remove the plugin we are working with, and all should go back to the right way.
Again, this is just a guide, using my own experience on a site that I run separate from this one, so your mileage may vary.
The base score for this blog are 72 Mobile / 83 Desktop.
We are running WordPress 4.8.1 on a VPN server.
Currently using the following plugins (all plugins have been updated to their latest versions):
EWWW Image Optimizer
WP First Letter Avatar
WP Product Review Lite
We also tested using Pingdom to get our base load time for our site. We are currently sitting at 2.87 seconds.
So let’s speed this blog up, and get yours running faster at the same time, while knocking out all of these pesky issues that Google has flagged us for on PageSpeed.
First up…Image Optimization
You may notice we are already using EWWW Image Optimizer. I love this plugin for a few reasons. It automatically optimizes you images on your blog while being virtually hands free. It does not give you as much of a savings as some other plugins out there, but this one is free, and by far the easiest of them all to set up. Simply install, activate, and watch your images begin to load faster.
Now, if you blog is already up and running there is one step you need to take. All of the images you uploaded before adding this plugin are not optimized. But EWWW has your back, with it’s bulk optimizer, and it could not be any easier:
- On your WordPress admin panel you want to visit Media -> Bulk Optimize.
- Click the button marked “Scan for unoptimized images” – the length of time this takes will vary depending on how many images you already have on your blog.
- The click “Start optimizing” – You may have to set “Choose how long to pause between images” to a number like 1 or 2 seconds if you are running on a shared server. And again, the time this takes will depend on the number of images that are on your server.
Since I have been running this plugin since setting up my blog, the number of images and savings are really not anything…but it may just give you a few points. Once the optimization is done, go ahead and check for your new score. I had no change, again, because I have been doing this all along.
There is one more step we are going to take to optimize our images even further. You may have noticed that Jetpack was not on our list of running plugins. We are going to go ahead and enable that, and use one of it’s many magical settings. To do this goto Jetpack -> Settings -> Writing. There is an option labeled “Speed up images and photos”, make sure that this is turned on. Now the results I got from this may seem odd. My Mobile score dropped to 68, but my desktop score improved to 87. This is OK though. The magic done with this Jetpack setting just changed a few things behind the scenes. Things we are going to address here in a moment.
Second on your list…Caching
Caching is one of the greatest things you can set up for your blog, and with the right plugin and settings, this will give you the greatest increase. Caching a page pulls all of the information needed to display your page properly, it then writes all of that to a file. Pulling this file is much faster than asking the database over and over again for the exact same information.
So how are we going to pull this feat off? With WP Fastest Cache, that’s how. Just like EWWW above, there are other plugins that can do the same things, some of them even better, but I am happy to trade off a gain a little simplicity but loose a point or 2. Now a word of warning again. This is the plugin that will probably give you the greatest chance of breaking your site, so if things go wrong, uncheck all of the setting boxes. Then go through and test the plugin checking one box at a time, until you see which setting is causing all of the issues.
Here is what my settings page for WP fastest Cache looks like:
These settings give me no issues after testing. So it’s time to give PageSpeed a go. The first time you test, you will see your score drop a bit. This is to be expected, as this first load builds the cache. Wait a moment, and test again. You should see some significant improvement. The scores on my test site went from 68/87 (mobile/desktop) to 72/95! How is that for an improvement? Getting so close to that mythical 100 PageSpeed.
But alas…we are never going to get to 100. No matter what any other site tells you….
A 100 Google PageSpeed Insights Score on a real site is NEVER going to happen!
Blogaversity’s current PageSpeed scores are showing 83 and 97…slightly better than our testing site, but still short. So let’s dig into the reality of it all, and see why a live site can never reach 100.
Here is what Google says we need to fix on the desktop version of our site:
And here is the list of recommendations for this site’s mobile version:
Do you notice anything there? Almost all of the files that could be optimized are hosted by Google themselves (The other is Facebook). This is exactly what happens with an actual running site. You can not control everything, but some of these things you can not do without.
Using Adsense and Google’s own analytics will cause these things, but are needed. I need the advertisements to pay the bills, and analytics helps me to understand how the site is being used. The other file that is being shown as an issue belongs to Facebook. I COULD get rid of the Facebook block for my page, but it would hamper my efforts there. So rather than make these sacrifices in an effort to achieve a 100 PageSpeed score, we are going to have to just deal with it.
This is an issue that nearly everyone running a blog, or any other type of website for that matter, will run in to. I did manage to get upper 90’s for two different sites, and that in itself is very good. Something else happened as well while doing all of this. Something we barely touched on at the beginning of this post. Our page load speed.
We have taken our test site from 2.87 seconds, down to 1.42 seconds! So even if a perfect score is unattainable, just by doing a few simple things, we were able to cut our loading time in half. What sort of scores and loading times were you able to achieve? Let us know in the comments.