Profanity warning: I’m fucking fuming.
Fully responsive, loads in 500 ms, and Google’s shiny shittool tells me my mobile performance is “fair”, bc of render-fucking-blockhead CSS. pic.twitter.com/2KosNYpQxJ
— Caspar🌿Hübinger (@glueckpress) January 14, 2017
As customer support rep for a popular WordPress caching plugin (not linked in order to not harm my employer by language used here), I see people losing their shit about not scoring high enough in Google’s PageSpeed shit show on a daily basis.
If tools like PageSpeed Insights or Test my Site with Google required a developer login, so they got used by people who actually know how to read those darn arbitrary, entirely context-lacking results, and still make good use of them.
yeah, if you are not Google–sized then just don’t worry about Google–sized problems.
— Andrey Savchenko (@Rarst) January 14, 2017
But not Google, no. Google has its tool scan your real life problems and generate replies from a pre-defined catalogue of a dozen items you have either succeeded, or failed against.
And because Google is the same Google whose search algorithm separates winners from losers, people think a low PageSpeed score will make their lovely website rank bad.
IT!!! DOES!!! NOT!!! FOR!!! FUCKING!!! FUCK’S!!! SAKE!!!
At Google they’re actually smart enough to not have their own random commentary on your opus optimized-by-blood-sweat-and-tears have any relevance for your ranking.
Yes, your website should be fully responsive, ideally “mobile-first”. But that’s it. Render-blocking shit won’t do any harm to your ranking, nor will missing browser caching on Google’s own servers. (Have you noticed they actually ask you to turn on browser caching on their own servers? It’s hilarious!)
Yet, Google has the nerve to keep calling their monster “PageSpeed Insights”—as if actual speed (i.e. load time) had anything to do with it.
PageSpeed doesn’t even measure fucking load times!
(And it doesn’t for good reason, but that’s an entirely different story that won’t help you come to grips with performance.)
PageSpeed Insights update January 2018
After its recent update, PSI now displays “speed data for popular URLs that are known by Google’s web crawlers”. This is not to be confused with load times as displayed by tools like Pingdom, or GTmetrix.
Obviously, performance optimisation (as in: the kind of shit developers do, because they’re developers) usually should focus on different metrics than load time.
However … (sips coffee)
The context of this post is not general standards of performance optimisation.
The context of this post is the amount of fucks you should give about a PSI score when you’re not a developer, and you don’t know shit about all the technical wizardry happening when a browser loads a page from your self-configured WordPress site.
And now on with the post …
If you don’t fully understand how to read and hack code in order to please Google, here’s a quick way for you to check how your website is doing for your visitors:
Testing your WordPress website’s performance
- Go to Pingdom Tools.
(Developers, shut it now! You may know better, but not everyone can make sense of WebPagetest.)
- Enter the URL of your front page.
If it’s HTTPS, enter https://.
If it is www, enter www.
Best you copy-paste it from the browser’s address line.
- Pick—this is important!—a location nearest to your most likely audience for “Test from”.
If your site speaks any other European language than English, Pingdom currently offers you a testing location from Sweden. Pick that. UK, you too.
If you’re in the Americas, pick an appropriate location near you from there.
If you’re elsewhere in the world, you’re in bad luck at Pingdom, but just pick anything approximately near (like, for Indonesia try Melbourne).
- Run the test.
Then run it again, from the same location.
- Look at the load time.
Don’t look at the “Performance grade”, it’s generated via PageSpeed’s API, screw it.
Look at load time only for now.
✅ If your website is a self-configured, self-hosted WordPress site with a purchased theme and anything up from 5 active plugins, and load time is below 2 seconds, rejoice. 👍
If it is below 1.5 seconds, cheer loudly, grab a cold beverage, and celebrate! 🍻
If it is below 1 second, songs will be sung about you. 👑
🚫 If load time is above 2 seconds, scroll down the Pingdom page, sort that “File requests” chart by “Load time”, and get ready to deactivate or replace some plugins (or a theme) that may send costly external requests to slow-performing services. (Hello, Finstabook!)
Update August 2017
Interested in more facts, less rant? Read this one from MH Themes:
PageSpeed Insights – How important is a good performance score for your website?
Also, this commenter bothered to actually phone Google and get them to clarify on whether or not your PageSpeed Insights score is relevant for your search ranking. Thanks, MickyLaPaz!
Update July 2018
Here’s a great post that illustrates the limitations of PageSpeed Insights: