Google PageSpeed Insights is a helpful tool that allows Magento store owners to review their speed score both for mobile and desktop users. It bases its assessment on Lighthouse audits but it’s not limited to them. Google PageSpeed is a bit more thorough and offers a wider range of so-called Opportunities to fix your speed issues.
But let’s move more to the point. Why 100 score is not a good goal? We’ll discuss with you five reasons why your resources are best used elsewhere and how using Google PageSpeed for Magento can actually help your store, even without the perfect score.
Reason 1: Google Pagespeed Gives A Relative Score, Not An Absolute One
Google uses the percentile approach to measuring store performance which means it’s impossible for all sites to get the perfect score. Only 2-3% of all stores can have the best possible score, everyone else is bound to lag behind even if their speed is also pretty good.
Imagine a classic bell curve to visualize how websites are ranked inside the PageSpeed system
There are opponents and proponents to this approach but we have what we have. On the one hand, ranking sites among themselves mean that the Internet will keep investing in better performance. On the other hand, webmasters can become obsessed with the scoring system and neglect everything else.
That’s why the chase for the perfect score is not only hard, it’s endless. You never compete with your previous self, you are competing with the fastest and lightest websites on the planet. Constantly. Beating them today doesn’t mean your score will be 100 tomorrow. Actually, your score fluctuates from run to run which also makes things even more complicated.
Reason 2: Google Pagespeed Only Works With Frontend Performance
Google PageSpeed is a good tool. We like it ourselves and use it (although in moderation) to guide us in our optimization efforts and help identify problems faster. But one issue with Google PageSpeed is hard to ignore: it only works for frontend performance review.
While not a deal-breaker, it’s a significant detail you should never ignore. Yes, roughly 2/3 of all optimizations for Magento are done on the frontend. But no, you can’t rely on the frontend to the detriment of the backend.
You have to balance optimization efforts in such a way that you don’t leave backend too slow, either. Eliminating one performance bottleneck will inevitably create it in another place, sometimes in the backend.
Reason 3: Optimizing For Google Instead Of Your Users Is Silly
Passing all audits doesn’t necessarily mean your store is helpful, fast, and pleasant to use. It’s not that hard to forget the user when you are so focused on getting the best score for the machine.
Keep in mind that your users are your paying customers who let you keep the lights on, not Google. Designing for humans first, thinking about humans before the machine is a prudent approach.
After all, what’s the purpose of cheating Google algorithms to make your store look faster when your store is hardly usable? Our next argument makes it even more pointless.
Reason 4: Google Weighs User Behavior Above Any Scores
Want proof? Take a look at 2 Dogs Media analysis. These guys got digging really hard and discovered that Google PageSpeed might be a big deal for webmasters but it’s just a tiny consideration for actual Google rankings.
Tons of destinations on the web have unoptimized websites that are ranked higher, visited more, and remembered longer by their users than their faster but less popular counterparts.
Reason 5: When You Optimize Magento For Pagespeed You Miss Other Optimization Opportunities
We live in a world of limited resources. From budget restraints to developer time, everything has its limits. And when you dedicate these resources to PageSpeed, you miss other optimization vectors. Making the right choice in a sea of opportunities can be hard.
But we want you to focus on something else. Imagine the amount of effort you’ll need to invest to enter this elusive 2% division. Being the elite few might surely tickle your ego, but is it a good investment of time and money from the business point of view?
Remember, your goal is not to beat the Internet in an imaginary battle for the best score, it’s to sell more products and grow the business. Retail is about selling stuff, not excelling at an elitist racing game.
100 Is Not The Magical Number:
So is it worth chasing that 100 Magento PageSpeed score? Not really. In terms of development time and common sense, it’s not exactly feasible to pursuit the perfect score. You are better off dedicating your resources to other optimization activities.
But if we’ve already established it’s almost impossible to get the perfect score, why all the hype around Google PageSpeed? It’s not a useless tool, we know that much. It can also help you improve your store in a meaningful way.
Just don’t treat the score as something magical. The perfect score, even if you manage to attain it, is ephemeral. It doesn’t get you more sales or more customers. Your conversion rates won’t be affected too much. It’s a good place to be, but, for a growing online store, it’s not the be-all-end-all goal.
Google Pagespeed Is Not About Speed, Either:
Finally, one last point to make. This is an important one. It might not be obvious but PageSpeed Insights is not about speed. It can help you see technical issues that hinder user experience. It will not help when you need to improve actual page speed. There are other tools for that and this is not one of them.
Does it mean you can ignore Google PageSpeed Insights when you optimize Magento stores? Not really. Just remember that there are more than 200 ranking factors in Google algorithm and focusing on one or two of them is not a healthy strategy to move forward.
Get Better UX Instead Of Getting A Great Score On Google Pagespeed:
Without being too technical we’ll just note that a few years ago Google has switched to version 5 of their PageSpeed Insights API. This meant a new approach to speed measurement and a complete reshuffle of speed scores all around the web.
A lot of customers wanted to know why their scores were plunging. The answer is Google changed their approach to user experience and how they measure page performance. You can read about it in detail here and here. The thing that Google wants you to understand is that you should concentrate on user experience instead of some artificial scores. Scores are just a guideline. Not the end goal.