A couple of days ago, GTMetrix announced on a tweet that they would implement Lighthouse from the Google Developers. We all know GT Metrix, Pingdom, and Lighthouse are the leading choices for speed, cache, and delivery testing purposes for almost any SEO enthusiast. People tend to like GT Metrix more just because it’s feeding more than a “green light” – their egos.
BTW – we’re working on implementing Google @____lighthouse into GTmetrix ????
— GTmetrix (@gtmetrix) April 20, 2020
Is the “speed” of a site important?
No doubt, we all know, not just for search engines and ranking purposes but also for conversions, many of the giants such as Walmart and Amazon have compiled case studies, showing that even a few milliseconds counts a lot.
Fact: Walmart found that every 1 second of improvement of a page load time, their conversion leads increases by +2%. Assuming this test comes from a giant, that can mean a few hundred thousand more in sales per year.
Should we blindly trust GT Metrix and/or Lighthouse?
No, that’s a beautiful lie, which SEO agencies usually put in the eyes of customers. You will be surprised how easy your “site score” will jump from E to A in 90% of the cases by just installing a cache plugin in your WordPress site. Of course, it is nice to see how your site scores almost 100%, and it loads in under a second, but you need to do more than that.
A Few tips
- Use a proper hosting service for your site. – You can have one of the most optimized sites possible. However, if your hosting is low, the “first byte” will take a lot of time. If you are a more advanced user, you can use a VPS.
- Use a CDN if you serve customers worldwide. – If your hosting provider has the server in the United States, but you also serve customers from Europe, you will need a CDN, at least for images.
- Use a country-specific hosting if you serve just that specific area. – (If your site is for Swedish people, then buy a hosting which has the servers based in Sweden)
- Prefetch DNS Requests. – External scripts such as Google Fonts, Fontawesome, and any other 3rd parties. (it’s a win-win situation here for you and also for your mobile traffic), some references on GitHub
- Optimize your images correctly. – Don’t just optimize a couple of pictures to bypass the GT Metrix score on a specific page, don’t fool yourself. Get a proper plugin that can also help you convert your .webP (a new generation of browser-based images), not just optimizing a section of your media library. Do not skip optimization for thumbs; basically, you must optimize the whole library to avoid headaches.
- HSTS Preload. – This small trick helps your site a lot just by telling the modern browser to preload your SSL. Example and more details at https://hstspreload.org/?domain=digitalgeckos.com
- Use AMP if possible. – If your site is based mostly on content/images/videos, newspaper-style mainly, you can start using AMP with no problems. Especially on WordPress, the transition can be smooth; you don’t need yet to setup AMP to take-over. But, there must be a reason why, on Google Search Console, they make a special section for it. Maybe not now, but in the near future on Google core updates, they will undoubtedly give more trust to websites which also use the AMP feature. PARADOX: You can NOT optimize your AMP website too much, whatever tests you run on Lighthouse. Don’t believe me? Try yourself! You can not optimize CSS, which is not based on your servers, and guess what? AMP Project does not have minified it.
- Don’t overload your site with hundreds of plugins for social sharing, voting, and others. We are in 2020, not in 2012. Nobody cares, if someone wants to share it, they will.
- Don’t use cheap services for anything if you care about your website: You will get what you pay for, period!
- You can have the most friendly user interface in the world; if nobody visits it, it’s useless. Check Amazon and Google interface to understand better what UX/UI really means.
- Don’t over-optimize or overthink. Keep it simple; keep it clean!