Why you shouldn’t use Google Page Speed Insights to measure your website quality

Screenshot of the landing page of Google Page Speed Insights showing where to input the your website's domain name.

In this article, I’ll be discussing why Google Page Speed Insights is not an accurate way of determining the quality of your site. And why many other tests are more accurate than Page Speed Insights, and how they will help you get a better understanding of your site’s health.

It’s important to know how Google Page Speed Insights work and what they are testing for you to understand if they are the best method for you or not.

What are Google PageSpeed insights?

Google Page Speed Insights is a tool made by Google that allows you to measure the performance of your website. They test in real-time and provide scores based on a perceived user experience with your website. The higher the score, the better experience users will have when navigating through it.

The speed index is a number between 0 and 100, which indicates how quickly a site loads on the average browser.

They also tell you how well your website performs compared to performance metrics they feel provide a good user experience. It provides you with some tips and advice for speeding up your site. 

Most of them are actionable and an excellent basis to improve upon. Still, there’s much more behind the testing metrics than what you see on the screen.

Why the Google Page Speed Insights are incorrect?

Google Page Speed Insights shows results based on two devices. Your desktop version of your website, and a mobile one.

The test run on the desktop version shows more or less how your site will be seen by a user who visits from their laptop or desktop computer with generally good internet speeds.

The tests run on a mobile device will show how your site performs when accessed from a smartphone or tablet, usually with slower speeds and fewer resources.

The problem lies within their mobile test.

This mobile test is being performed on a throttled 3G network which is rarely used in a modern digital world. Most use the Googles test to check their website quickly and have no idea why their websites seem to perform so poorly on mobile.

The desktop score could be in the high 90’s while the mobile version shows just 50% or 60%.

Unless you know how to optimize your website for a 3G network, the chance of you hitting the scores on Google will be pretty much slim to none. Moreover, if you are not working in an area or have customers living in a 3G network, you do not need to look at your mobile device’s Google Page Speed recommendations.

If you could view your site’s score on the existing networks you actually work from, you would see a very different outline for improvement.

How to test your website correctly.

There are a few things you can do to make sure you are testing your website correctly. The GTMetrix test is an excellent place to start and is our preferred system.

It will provide you with various information on how your website performs and is much more accurate based on a real-world environment.

It doesn’t matter how your website performs for countries where you don’t do business and or never will do business. So you should put your focus on what matters most for you.

The most important thing to keep in mind when testing your website is to be consistent and test for the same location at the same speeds all the time. This will provide the most accurate results and data to pull from.

GT Metrix has different load tests for different types of devices (desktop, tablet, mobile). If you are on a paid plan, you can run the mobile speed test on a device that is being throttled and has limited internet speeds and see where it scores. It will most likely be very close to the Google one.

No alt text provided for this image

Then test the network speeds where your website serves its customers, 4G or 5G and see the difference. Once you have this set, it will give you valuable information about how your website is performing and point out any areas for improvement.

Another thing to keep in mind is to run the test 3 times in a row. Your website will store cache in some browsers and the first test is not a good metric to work from. Run 3 times in a row then work from that score. The 3rd test will be your best score.

Here is the link to the GTMetrix Speed Test. https://gtmetrix.com/

How do these tests help my business?

Google made a statement earlier this year that if your site isn’t performing well on mobile devices as it does on Desktop, they will penalize or limit your visibility in search rankings.

There was a new Google algorithm update in May of this year called core web vitals.

They said that the websites that offer a better experience will be chosen over those that aren’t optimized. We have proven this theory to be correct in more than a dozen studies we ran.

We saw that the appropriately optimized websites that pass on all 3 core web vital scores outperformed websites that are not.

We had already optimized the sites for web vitals before what vitals were even a thing but saw a massive uptick in traffic since April just before the algorithm was officially implemented worldwide.

The same websites continue to climb in traffic month over month since April. On the other side, the ones that are not optimized have not seen any increase in traffic since the algorithm change took place.

If you want to see better results, you need to make sure your website is optimized correctly, and not just run a google page speed test and optimize for things that may not help your business.

Next Steps

Once you have your analysis and baseline, then you need to look at fixing, rebuilding if needed or optimizing your website to meet the standards of Google.

The actual steps needed for meeting core web vitals standards for every website are too in-depth and not something that can be outlined in a blog like this.

The bottom line is don’t use Google’s Page Speed Test to indicate how good or bad your site performs. If you are testing on your own, use GTMetrix and test per your audience demographic. It will provide you with the correct information that will help you determine the level of work needed to get your website up to speed for your users.

This topic is up for debate but per the latest industry standards and how and where you actually operate should be your focus and not chasing the 100% mobile score on google which tests on a device that is no longer in use.

Were happy to run some free scans and provide what the next steps are for your business.

I will update this article if this changes in the near future.