Get A Fast Google PageSpeed Score & Drive Massive SEO Results

Michael Costin

February 26, 2020

We shared a post to our Facebook page recently about the amazing results we’d achieved speeding up our website. 

Our score of 99/100 on the Google PageSpeed Insights tool seemed to pique the interest of a few people (both online and offline):

This post shows the blindingly fast page speed results we’ve achieved for our own site as well as a client’s site, and importantly, the improved SEO rankings and traffic that the client enjoyed as a result:

Our client's SEO traffic grew significantly after we improved their site speed

Two different sites, both with Google page speed scores of 94/100 or better.

That’s music to the ears of nerds like us.

But you’re probably a business owner. 

Why should you care about speed?

Google Loves Speed

No, Google is not a drug addict.

They’re also not the type of drag racing hoon found on A Current Affair either:

The type of speed Google loves is a website that loads in a blink of an eye.

Google are so obsessed with fast loading sites that they announced speed is a ranking factor for organic search and something Google Ads also looks at back in 2018.

The important takeaway from this announcement was that websites that load slowly on mobile would have their rankings reduced.

Reduced rankings means less traffic, less leads and less sales. That’s all stuff business owner’s care about:

So Give Google What It Wants

A big part of SEO is figuring out what Google’s algorithm rewards, and then making sure your website gives it exactly that.

In this case, Google have explicitly stated that a fast website is a ranking signal, and slow websites will be pushed out of the search results.

They have also released the PageSpeed Insights tool.

This free tool lets you analyse your site then see how it performs on Mobile and Desktop on a score of 0 to 100. They even give you little hints on how you can improve your score.

So, if Google say they like speed, and they even have this tool that assesses your site’s speed, it’s a pretty logical & fair conclusion to assume the way this tool evaluates your site is the same way the speed component of Google’s search algorithm evaluates your site, right?

So give Google what they want to see.

Let’s take a look at some speed tests before and after we optimised these sites, as well as the results it had on SEO performance

Local Digital's Results

We’ll kick things off with a look at the site you’re reading right now.

Yep, you’re reading a post about site speed on a site that has been site speed optimised… is that some sort of site speed inception?

Who knows.

What we do know is that the Local Digital site was relatively quick to begin with. To clarify, it was quick to actually use as a person, but as you’ll see in a sec, Google’s PageSpeed tool thought it was a little slow (and we couldn’t have that!).

We launched our new site towards the end of 2019.

At the time we decided to host it on the Google Cloud platform out of the Sydney datacenter.

We chose Google Cloud for a couple of reasons. First, it uses Google’s infrastructure, which is the same infrastructure they run their search on, so it stands to reason it’s a pretty fast hosting environment.

Second, we figured Google may reward a site hosted on their architecture from an SEO point of view. This is just a hunch, we’re yet to test it, but it surely couldn’t hurt to host with Google as opposed to a major competitor like Amazon Web Services.

Here’s our PageSpeed Scores with the site just installed on the server, with no optimisation:

 

Mobile

Mobile score was an abysmal 12 out of 100… not good when mobile speed is precisely what Google looks at when assessing a site:

Desktop

Desktop was better.

A little better, but not really that impressive, coming in with a score of 40/100:

So we had a fast Google server, but our website scored poorly on the Google PageSpeed score.

Our site is built in WordPress, just like the vast majority of Australian business websites out there.

WordPress is fantastic, but out of the box it is not super fast. When you start adding images, plugins, page builders, themes and everything else you need for a site that works it can slow the site down pretty dramatically.

So we went and got our nerd on and this happened to our mobile speed score:

Started From The Bottom Now We Here

Jumping from a score of 12/100 to 98/100 is the stuff an SEO nerd dreams about as they drift off to sleep each night.

In fact, that day after checking our score the team involved in the project walked out of the office a little like this:

 

Here's How We Did It

We can’t go in to all of the details of everything we did, but here are a few of the “big ticket items”:

  1. Optimised the way we use images. These are the largest files on most websites. Anything you can do to make them smaller has a major impact. We resized images so they weren’t larger dimensions than they need to be and also saved them at lower quality via PhotoShop. You don’t need the highest quality setting for images that are used on a website.
  2. To take the image optimisation to the next level, we used the ShortPixel plugin to further optimise images in the WordPress media library. This plugin will analyse images that are uploaded and compress/optimise them on the fly, ensuring the file size is small and load speed is as fast as possible.
  3. Set-up caching – browser and server caching. A cache stores data from our site (pages, images, media etc) temporarily when the site is first loaded. The cache remembers this, so instead of having to download all the files again it will quickly load that data each time the page is visited again.
  4. Set up AWS Cloudfront CDN. This allows our website assets to be delivered very quickly anywhere in the world. It works by storing copies of these files on servers all across the world, and the user will then download the files from the server closest to them, improving speed.
  5. Implemented lazy loading of images. This means, instead of loading every image when the page first loads, instead it loads just what the user can see, with subsequent images loaded as the user scrolls.
  6. Optimised a lot of minor settings in WordPress that generate minor gains in speed, for example, removing emojis, disabling embeds, disabling RSS feeds, disabling pingbacks etc

Interested in improving your site speed like this? Click the Get A Proposal button now and we will let you know what's possible for your website.

Client Results

The results above weren’t a fluke.

We have also recently given one of our client’s sites the same treatment.

This client has been with us for many years now, and we’d noticed over the previous few months that the site had slowed down and, alarmingly, Google organic visibility had gone a little backwards.

We devised the following plan:

  1. The site had been built years ago using the Divi page builder for WordPress. This tool was great at the time, but these days, it just bloats sites too much and slows them down with needless code. These days, we prefer using the more efficient Elementor Pro page builder.


    A decision was made to give the site a refresh, modernising the design and the look and feel and getting rid of Divi and all the code bloat.

    The downside of this was the design used more images so the site could load even slower as a result if we weren’t on top of it.

  2. The client was using older shared hosting which is just not fast enough and doesn’t give enough privileges to optimise for speed. We shifted them to the Google Cloud.
  3. The site needed to have the same speed treatment we cover in this article

Let’s start with the results.

The site’s SEO traffic was up 45% immediately after we implemented the above changes. Here’s a screenshot from their analytics:

A very handy increase in traffic compared to the same time the previous year, and a delighted client:

Before we show the speed results, for a bit of context here’s what the old site and new site look like:

Old Site

New Site

And now for the interesting part.

The site speed went through the roof after our optimisation efforts.

After we added the site to Google Cloud, here’s the mobile pagespeed score before we did any further optimisations:

And here is the score after we put the site through a similar process as outlined above:

Another blisteringly fast loading site.

So there you have it. Cracking 90 on the Google PageSpeed tool is definitely possible with WordPress sites, and we have settled on a strong combination of server, optimisations and plugins that works.

If you’re interested in speeding up your own site or perhaps giving your SEO a shot in the arm like we illustrated here please get in touch now for a free proposal.

 

About Michael Costin

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