Everything You Need to Know About Site Speed
Here at Virtual Resort Manager, we have been getting quite a few questions about site speed, specifically about Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. We want to help you better understand how site speed affects your website, and for you to get a better grasp on how to use PageSpeed Insights correctly for your business. Marketing and social media experts have weighed in on the subject, and now we are passing that information along to you…so you can have the information you need to know about site speed.
Load Time vs. PageSpeed Insights
Let’s start by defining what the difference is between Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool and your website’s speed/load time.
When someone refers to site speed or load time (those terms can be used interchangeably), that is a very specific and singular piece of data. It is the amount of time that it takes for your website (or a specific page on your website) to load for the user. Load time is an important factor for every business with a website to consider, not only for SEO quality but also for improved UX (user experience).
PageSpeed Insights is a "tool”, developed by Google, that measures performance of a page, based on many different factors. One of those factors is load time, but it also measures other factors like plugins, landing page redirects, compression and more. The PageSpeed Insights tool uses an algorithm to gather multiple pieces of data from your site, and then use that data to produce a score.
A Quick Look at How PageSpeed Applies to You
There seems to be a good deal of confusion about Google’s PageSpeed Insight tool. So let’s see if we can help bring a little clarity on the subject.
Businesses will run their URL through the tool, and be given a score. Often, the score is shocking and disappointing to the business in question, since it is often associated with site speed. Based on a 100-point scale, businesses can rank with a relatively low score. However, according to marketing experts, it is hard to isolate and measure the benefit of improved PageSpeed Insight Score.
Recently, VRM’s Digital Marketing Manager, Saad Malik, ran a test. He was able to improve one client’s PageSpeed score from 60 to 85. Afterwards, he found that the increased score had no significant benefit to that client’s SEO. However, if a site received a PageSpeed score of 10, and improved it to 60, there would be a quantifiable positive effect for the website.
There are also factors that PageSpeed Insights does not measure. For example, it does not take into account the distance of the user from the server. According to an article from Optimize WP, "…you will lose marks for using Google Analytics on your site. If you remove the analytics script your insights score will go up, however you will lose all the advantages of using analytics for your business. It’s a no brainer here which is more important.” This article does an excellent job of explaining why users should not get too caught up in their PageSpeed score, and defines various factors to consider.
WP Rocket goes as far as to say, "Your Google PageSpeed score does not matter.”
So, if PageSpeed "does not matter”, then what does?
Site Speed Matters and Other Important Factors
There are multiple other factors that contribute to your SEO, and load time is one of those factors. If you would like a realistic look at your websites speed and load time, then we recommend Pingdom’s Website Speed Test tool.
However, if you are in the vacation rental and sales industry, there are several others factors to consider. When you run a website that has a dynamic platform to process reservations, it relies on APIs and 3rd party integrations (pulling or pushing data from another website). Such platforms will play a role in your site speed, and ultimately in your load time score.
It is important to remember that in many industries, like the vacation rental and sales market, that most websites are dynamic. This mean that they are always changing…new properties are loaded, specials are added, blog content is updated, websites are responsive, etc. These necessary factors do place some limitation from implementing certain PageSpeed Insight recommendations.
The bottom line, is that there are many factors to consider when looking at your site speed for SEO.
Our recommendations are:
If you decide to use a tool like PageSpeed Insights, then use it as just that…a tool. Follow recommendations that apply to YOUR business, and do not treat the recommendations as the be all and end all resource/game plan.
Use programs like Pingdom to give you an actual site speed score. Page speed optimization is an important factor to digital marketing and UX, and should be an important metric to monitor. At VRM, we understand the importance of a well performing website, so our client websites page load times are between 0.5 seconds – 2 seconds.