PageSpeed or page speed, Which is More Important?


Let’s start by clearing something up that can lead to a lot of confusion, PageSpeed and page speed are two separate things. PageSpeed Insights is a tool created by Google that “measures the performance of a page for mobile and desktop devices” and based on that performance assigns your site a score. On the other hand, page speed, aka “page load time”, is the time it takes for your page’s content to fully load. PageSpeed Insights is not a direct measurement of page speed.

PageSpeed Insights is not a direct measurement of page speed.

Google PageSpeed Insights

PageSpeed Insights provides suggestions to improve the performance of your site. These suggestions, as Google refers to them, are exactly that. Most of the time they are useful and should be implemented. For example, a common problem we have seen on WordPress blogs are unoptimized images and improperly scaled images. Fixing problems such as these is usually trivial and may drastically reduce your page size and overall load time.

Other times the suggestions may be impractical, costly to implement, or don’t make sense for your website. An example of this is when a suggestion says to “remove render blocking JavaScript” for a plugin that you have installed. In this instance your only options would be to remove the plugin or ignore the suggestion. Your goal should be knowing which suggestions should be implemented and which suggestions won’t have a noticeably negative impact on your websites performance or ranking.

Ignoring any suggestion means that your site will not receive a 100/100 Insights score. This is fine, you don’t need to get caught up on achieving an unrealistic score.

The average score of a site ranked on GTMetrix is 71%, and Google says a score of 85 indicates that a page is performing well.1 Google has never reported that PageSeed Insights score is a ranking factor. The most important ranking factors for SEO are:

Meta data
Mobile responsiveness
Page load time

That isn’t to say that PageSpeed Insights has no bearing on your sites ranking, although its affect is indirect. All suggestions made by PageSpeed have some impact on page speed (load time), which is a ranking metric. Again, your goal is to determine how negatively each suggestion is impacting your performance before determining if it is worth the cost of fixing it.

Page speed – Page load time

Page speed is an important metric for your site and was made a ranking factor in 2010.2 Most visitors will not stay on your site if it continuously takes too long to load. These two factors affect your overall load time the most:

Page size – total size of all the loaded resources
Number of requests – total number of all resources (scripts, images, ads, css, etc.) being loaded by your site

Minimizing each of these will improve your page speed. In our next post we will be going over what affects your page size and total number of requests, what is a recommended result for these metrics, and how to effectively decrease these numbers to improve your overall page speed.

Read the rest of the posts in this series:

Page Size and Number of Requests
PageSpeed Part I – Image Optimization
PageSpeed Part II – JavaScript/CSS
PageSpeed III – Optimize the Mobile Experience, Browser Caching, & Redirects