On January 9, 2018, Google released an update to their Page Speed Insights reporting tool. The update now utilizes real-time data reported through the Google Chrome Browser to detect the average page speed from users who access a website through the browser. Google is collecting that data and utilizes it to create a performance-based page speed score, known as your site’s PSI score.
Google also updated their API using enhanced data from Google Chrome Developer Tools so that development teams and businesses can utilize these scores to continuously update their site’s performance. The API will allow business owners and development teams to use the API to report on page speed performance by geographic region, location, device type, connection type and more.
In addition, seoClarity incorporates Google's Page Speed results in the platform to enable you to see your page speed at scale.
Page Speed Insights Score
In addition to the update, Google has already announced on January 17, that as of July, page speed scoring will be taken into consideration as a ranking factor on mobile devices. This announcement is atypical to Google’s standard roll-outs by notifying businesses in advance of the changes. The new updated Google page speed insights tool along with other tools developed by Google allow businesses to garner deeper insights into improvements that can be made to their site between now and the July update. So, is Google now slowly but surely embracing SEO? If you are talking about "Search Experience Optimization" then the answer is "yes".
Currently the updated Page Speed Insights tool only monitors page speed load time and rendering, however, between now and July 2018 Google will add more metrics and dimensions that they deem are critical factors that impact user experience. Some of these are reported under the new Google Lighthouse Chrome Developer audits.
Google Lighthouse Chrome Developer Audits
The Google Lighthouse Chrome Developer audits tool has broken down page speed for mobile to report on:
Time to First Paint: This reports on the time when the browser first renders
Time to First Contentful Paint: This reports the time when the browser first renders any meaningful text for the user, including any initial loaded text, images (including background images), non-white canvas or SVG. This includes text with pending webfonts. In Google’s words, “this is the first time users could start consuming page content.”
Time DOMContentLoaded: This is the first load of digestable content including text, images
Time for onLoad: Takes into consideration load and external sources completing load
The Google Chrome Lighthouse tool provides a screenshot of your website so you can see what the process looks like in time increments.
Google Search Console also has a tool to test and render your on-page content, however, the tool tests your page performance for <2 ms. If your content remains blank at that threshold, then you may receive an error. Additionally, there are some issues that cannot be resolved through the Google Fetch and Render tool alone.
A client of ours reached out to our Professional Services team for an issue with their site in which their product pages redirected to their homepage. They used the Google Fetch and Render tool but were unable to render their product pages. Our team utilized the Google Lighthouse audit and quickly identified that an automatic 301 redirect was placed by default in their global CMS settings. In the Lighthouse tool this was listed under “Failed Audit Performance: 301 redirect".
As with most tools, the Google tools do not take into consideration more advanced features, but do offer a wide variety of problem solving capabilities and analysis for most businesses to learn more about their site's page speed performance.
While Google also assured the public that these “speed updates” will only affect a small number of sites, we recommend that sites review their load time across several networks, and utilize the Lighthouse tool to see how long the content remains blank across mobile devices. In addition, you can refer to a blog post on page speed improvements for ways to improve your overall PSI score.