If you spend a little time around the website industry right now, you will hear a lot about Page Speed. For the uninitiated, Page Speed scoring is a variety of tools that analyze your website for performance. Popular tools include Lighthouse, GT Metrix, and Google’s page speed checker.
Now, measuring Page Speed should be easy, right? Set a stopwatch and time how long it takes to use the website and done. After all, if you were asked to time a runner sprinting 100 yards, you would start timing when they leave the line and press the button again when they cross the other side. Page Speed tools do this kind of testing, but there is also a secret sauce that Google, in particular, is interested in.
The idea is that if we follow Google’s rulebook and have a site that loads fast, in the way they want it to load quickly, we can see our Organic Search rankings skyrocket. It would be like if we took two runners sprinting and said, it’s not just your speed that matters, but if you were wearing the right shoes, swung your arms a certain way, and wore spandex vs. cotton. If our two runners have the same time across the finish line, only one wins because they met the other criteria.
In this analogy, Google is the regulatory body that sets the rules. Others measure them too, but they are all trying to please the Google algorithm. Interestingly, the rules shift and change based on what Google has decided is necessary to measure. Shifting rules creates complications. One month you may be at the top of the game, and while nothing on your end changes, new rules mean you have to start the sprint again with new shoes.
Should We Stop Caring?
Page Speed tools are just that – tools. We don’t ignore them at The Sky Floor, but we do take it with a grain of salt. There is enormous value in making your website speedy for real users. Google is not your actual user. You don’t want to intentionally tick Google off either.
The risk is that we take this measurement and think if we follow all the rules just right, we will outrank our competition. Page Speed is only a piece of the Organic Search pie. Google, and others, are ranking your website by all kinds of measures. The primary goal is to serve the most relevant content to the most appropriate person. You may get dinged for having a low page speed score, but it is still only a part of the equation.
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What We Can Learn From Nike
At the time of writing, if you run Nike’s website through one of these analyzers, you will see that they earn a big fat F. Do you think they are hurting for Organic traffic?
If it isn’t just about Page Speed, the right tags, and following the prescriptive rules, what will move the needle on your Organic web presence?