Page speed optimization is critical in today’s online world. Your business goal might be to increase leads, improve profits, capture greater market share or simply to improve your brand’s overall visibility. All of these goals are greatly helped if your web pages are speed optimized.
Traditionally, users have had access to web audit and analysis tools from Google and non-Google sources. While many of these tools offered useful insights, they tended to be expensive. Consequently, they kept many newcomers and low budget players out of the game.
Google, however, has a history of providing many extremely powerful tools for free. Today, we talk about one such powerful addition, Google Lighthouse.
About Google Lighthouse
Google Lighthouse is a powerful SEO tool available for free right within Google Chrome. Users can go to the Chrome Store to download the Lighthouse extension. Once you have successfully added Lighthouse to your browser, you are ready to start analyzing websites.
You can go to a website and click the ‘generate report’ button. Within minutes, Lighthouse will analyze the website using the ranking factors used by Google Search as its yardstick. This gives you a peek into what Google seeks when it looks at your website.
In a short time, a new tab opens on Chrome with a detailed analysis report. What is different about Lighthouse is that it can gauge how users will perceive your website’s speed and responsiveness.
Let us walk you through the sections of this report and what they mean for you:
This section primarily analyzes your page loading times. Your website loading times are directly related not just to customer experience but also to your search engine ranking on Google Search.
Lighthouse assesses your page loading speed and suggests potential improvements in the opportunities section. It looks at the time lapsed for the first meaningful paint to appear and advises you if you might be losing visitors because they are staring at a blank screen for too long.
Other important metrics include the Perceptual Speed Index and the Estimated Input Latency. The Perceptual Speed Index evaluates users’ perceived load times of your pages, and the Estimated Input Latency is a measure of your site’s responsiveness, assessed 60 frames per second.
These are very useful metrics to measure your site’s speed performance and identify problematic areas.
This section contains all the must-dos for your website. Lighthouse will list down all the ways you can improve your website speed and help your Google ranking. It may include suggestions like optimizing the heavy images on your website, properly sizing your images, enabling text compression, and reduce render blocking scripts.
You need to pay attention to these tips and tricks as they are surefire ways of improving your website’s performance. Since these recommendations are coming directly from Google, they give you a fair idea of the things Google’s crawlers look for on good websites.
The diagnostics section delves deeper into the metrics that affect your page load times. These metrics include but are not limited to avoiding page redirects, DOM size, and network payloads. These are deeper problems that need your attention and resolving them will improve your website’s overall usability and performance.
You can see which categories your site is doing well or poorly in; this is valuable information which acts as a marker for areas that need improvement.
Progressive Web App
Google has laid out a PWA checklist to define standards modern web-based services should be following to deliver a good user experience. The progressive web app section of the report focuses on these standards and evaluates if PWA standards are being met. This section includes metrics like page load times on 3G, secure HTTPS connection, and several others. Following these standards ensures your website is not just performing optimally and also not leaving out any gaps in user experience.
This section shows how accessible your website is to users with special needs. It is important for any business to ensure they do not ignore customers with special needs, especially on their website.
While not many websites pay attention to special accessibility needs, Google Lighthouse encourages businesses to make amends by taking into consideration factors like the color contrast and elements having the right labels to assist people using screen readers.
While it might be tough for businesses to be able to take into account all accessibility factors on their own, Lighthouse makes life easy by providing useful guidance on what can be improved.
Lighthouse evaluates how many of the benchmark best practices your website is following and gives you a pass and fail audit of several factors. Following these benchmarks is essential to have a high performing modern website and failing any one of them means your website is missing out on critical features.
Here you will see metrics like displaying the correct aspect ratio for images, using HTTPS, and using passive listeners to improve scrolling performances. Failing any of the standards shown in this section is a bad sign for your website and merits your immediate attention.
This is the last section of the Lighthouse report. It shows you how well optimized your website is for Google’s ranking system and crawlers. A higher score in this section means your site is more visible to Google. All your pages need to be accessible to crawlers so Google can understand what your website is about and correctly index it. Without sufficient information about your website, Google cannot show your website in the search results.
The new SEO report tool by Google is not a groundbreaking milestone for the company. SEO experts look for more advanced tools when it comes to search engine optimization and relevant metrics. However, it is a great tool for beginners and people who want quick information about a website in real time.
The tool is great for small business owners or website developers looking for a quick SEO fix or report. Google Guidelines followers will get the right direction through Lighthouse because it shows how a website should be optimized to show up higher on Google.