speed up scores/grades Freelancers Tools

Website speed up scores/grades don’t matter

Many people are obsessed with improving their speed up scores/grades on tools such as Google PageSpeed Insights, GTmetrix, and the likes. However, people tend to focus on the wrong metrics until they learn what really matters.

While you should definitely try to achieve the best possible load times, it’s not crucial to get a perfect score in these speed tools. Only your site’s speed is really important.

We have hundreds of examples of websites that are less than a second and have “C” level grades. But who cares about that? No one. When your customers visit your website, all they see is how fast (or slow) it loads. Period.

As we mentioned at the beginning of this post, we see a lot of website owners and developers obsessed with achieving a perfect PageSpeed Insights score. Unfortunately, these people often ignore the most important part of the test: the recommendations.

When using speed testing tools, it’s important to understand that the goal isn’t to get the highest score. Goal is to identify problems so you can fix them and get your site loading faster.

It’s also important to realize that every website is different. Not all recommendations from speed tests will apply to your specific website. It is not always possible and necessary to fispeed up scores/grades Freelancers Tools 01x every warning.

Load Time vs PageSpeed is the average time taken for a page to load for a user. The score is not calculated. It is how long a page takes to load, in milliseconds or seconds, from the beginning to the end of the loading process. “PageSpeed” and “page speed” are two different things.

Too many people equate PageSpeed Insights (the testing tool) with page speed (actual page load time). Page speed (load time) is important. Your Pagespeed (Insights) score is meaningless to Google. They never claimed that score you have is a ranking factor. No SEO article has claimed that your score is a ranking factor (and if it is, you should stop reading it).

It’s a nice vanity metric you can brag about. But a score of 98 doesn’t mean you own a fast loading website. That 98 says nothing about load time. Chasing scores / grades is an aberration. Page speed is measured in seconds or ms, not A | B | C | 85 | 90 | 100. Time determines speed, not score. Although you might not get the highest score, you can still have a fast loading website, as PageSpeed alone isn’t a direct indicator of load time. Focus on the actual website speed – in seconds, that’s the best.

The metrics that matter more than speed up scores/grades

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): measures loading performance. LCP is a metric that measures when a web page is visible and usable to a website visitor. Sites should aim to achieve LCP within 2.5 seconds of the page starting to load in order to provide a good user experience.

First Input Delay (FID): measures interactivity. When a user interacts with a website, FID measures how long it takes for that website to respond. A site’s FID should be less than 100 speed up scores/grades Freelancers Tools 04milliseconds for a good user experience.

Total Blocking Time (TBT): it is the amount of time user input is delayed due to background browser tasks, such as JavaScript processing or parsing CSS. It measures how busy the browser needs to be to load your web page.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): visual stability is measured by the CLS metric, which helps measure the degree to which users experience unexpected shifts in layout – low CLS guarantees a delightful experience.

Time To First Byte (TTFB): most sites that rank on page 1 for competitive high intent keywords have this time under 200 ms.
It measures the amount of time your server takes to return the first byte of data. These two measures indicate the latency of your users network and the processing time needed on your server to generate the document.

FACT: The most common culprit for high TTFB is NOT your host, but dynamic content generation. This refers to the amount of time PHP and database queries take to generate your web pages.
The main factors contributing to low dynamic content generation speed are:

  • large files,
  • excessive or slow database queries,
  • autoload data.

Time to Interactive (TTI): This is a Chrome Lighthouse measurement that indicates how long it takes for a page to load in its entirety, including all the text, paintings, JavaScript, and background tasks. TTI includes several different background-processing timers, including the Largest Contentful Paint, the First Input Delay, and others.
The TTI recommended by Google for fast loading pages is less than 3.8 seconds. Any site taking longer than 7.3 seconds has serious performance problems.

The First Contentful Paint (FCP): it measures the time it takes for the page to load and for some of the content to appear on the screen. For this metric, “content” includes texts, images (including background images)

 Take-aways

  1. Optimize your images
    Remember there are 2 parts to image optimization: Image size in dimensions e.g. 1200px x 600px, and the weight in MB. Some image compression plugins only handle the weight, but not the dimensions.speed up scores/grades Freelancers Tools 02a
  2. Focus on creating reports for your most important pages, not just your homepage.
  3. Your homepage values are usually different from your inner pages, and you want your inner pages to be super-fast so they rank better.
  4. Focus on fixing the recommendations, not just scores/grades alone (it’s easier to get a high score than a fast TTFB and Critical Render Paths).
  5. Reduce the things you put in your .htaccess file as your site is slown down by this slows. Find hosts that do most of their optimizations on the server side, and plugins that don’t put rules and code in your .htaccess, like the Redirection plugin that doesn’t put 301 redirects in your .htaccess.
  6. Work with host provider to better optimize your server with performance and security rules as this will improve your TTFB.
  7. Get a CDN (general or image CDN) for the international visitors and configure it properly. If you are using a CDN, avoid redundancy by not enabling what is already enabled on your server in the CDN. You have to spend hours and days optimizing to see your TTFB improve, not just your score/grade.
  8. If you are using GTmetrix, Pingdom, Page Speed Insights or gf.dev, focus on where it says Waiting or TTFB or First To Byte. Work on getting this under 200ms. Also work on your DOM speed.
  9. Whatever recommendations you try, be sure you check that it works with your website. There are some things that can be done on HTTP 1 that are not best practice for HTTP 2, and this will hurt your efforts.

We respect everyone’s opinion, but we’ve seen over the years in groups like WP Speed Up and other Facebook groups that people start obsessing ONLY with speed up scores/grades, regardless of whether they have a really fast website. Our goal is to avoid confusion for newbies about pointless speed up scores/grades improvements and help people optimize their sites for real speed.

We’re in real life, so we should focus on real life performance. We’re not in school chasing grades. Ironically, even in school, good grades don’t always equate to success.

That’s why we don’t want the conversations in Facebook groups focusing on improving speed up scores/grades. Those discussions usually go in the wrong direction.

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