16 August 2023

Google PageSpeed Insights: totally pointless or well worth pursuing?

Spoiler alert: it’s somewhere in between.


Google PageSpeed Insights is a tool used for testing website performance.

All you need to do is to enter a url and you’ll get a colour-coded score out of 100: Red (0-49) is critical, Orange (50-89) suggests something needs attention and Green (90+) means you’re doing pretty good. You also get some recommendations on how to improve your performance – and therefore, your PageSpeed Insights (PSI) score.

Free testing and performance advice from the world’s leading Search Engine, what’s not to love? Well, a few things. 

As we discuss below, while there are some advantages to PSI, it’s not the holy grail of performance parameters and there are other measures that you might be better off prioritising. 


Good for identifying problem areas on a site

The automatically generated recommendations on how to improve your performance, while not always feasible, can help to to identify a few quick wins to speed up your site e.g. code that could be tidied up or images that need to be replaced with smaller files

Offers useful measures beyond just site loading speed

The colour coded display is a quick and easy way to visualise your site’s performance and it will give you a good indication of how fast it feels to your human users (not just the Google bots.) Also of value is its scores on accessibility, SEO, and best practices – which can be really helpful when creating or improving your site, too. 

A free resource to help understand your position on Search Engine results

Since it’s a Google-made tool it follows that the score will be reflected in search engine rankings (Google’s at least) – but Google factors in much more than just the PSI score. A perfect 100/100 won’t guarantee you a top spot on SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages)


It’s testing parameters may be limiting your results

The location of Google’s test servers is important if that’s not near the specific audience you’re targeting (it’s less important if you’re not being super regionally specific.) Equally, for mobile testing, PSI uses a Moto G4 on a slow 4G mobile network – if this doesn’t match what your audience is using, the results won’t match either.

Potential to waste a lot of time and effort chasing a perfect score

It’s easy to get caught chasing quantifiable number boosts and get too into the ‘gamification’ of PSI at the expense of other digital marketing. Your user engagement and brand messaging, for example, won’t feature in the score but will have a big impact on your overall business performance. PSI seems to suggest that if you make all the numbers green you’ll smash your sales targets forever more, which isn’t the case at all. 

There’s no gold at the end of the Google rainbow

Even if you avoid the trap of chasing the perfect score (as above) it’s worth bearing in mind that the score itself is always evolving. Google changes its PSI scoring criteria all the time so you can’t hit your realistic target and tick it off your To Do list – a decent score will need to be maintained with fairly regular checks and updates. 

So if you’ve got a sluggish site and you can’t work out how best to speed it up, sure, by all means, give Google PageSpeed Insights a go. It’s a solid first step and you’ve nothing to lose. 

But for more detailed analysis and some practical solutions, talk to your webmaster or get in touch right here with your friendly, local code nerd. 

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