Analytics at face value: Google PageSpeed Insights

When it comes to webpage analytics, Google’s family of free PageSpeed tools come in handy for grading performance metrics. The tool accomplishes this by generating two types of data- lab and field.

Lab data usually follows a generically elaborate sequence, and is suitable for debugging performance issues; on the contrary, field data is shaped by a limited number of real-world metrics. The latter has two primary metrics: First Contentful Paint (FCP) and First Input Delay (FID). Both are graded in milliseconds (ms), and are categorized in three sub-tiers (fast, moderate and slow).

When it comes to crunching lab data, PageSpeed Insights tool analyzes a given URL with Lighthouse, and provides the output as a performance score (out of 100). This basically summarizes the page performance based on different metrics, with the score being sub-categorized into three tiers- fast (above 90), moderate (90-50), and slow (below 50).

But what is the scope of a practical evaluation?

Now that we’ve gotten the technicalities out of the way, it’s important to note that while Google PageSpeed Insights (PSI) offer a valuable ground for performance evaluation, it can’t exactly be used to determine the interaction of organic traffic with your website. While it’s true that the reduction of latency helps with the alleviation of a visitor’s patience, it’s not always the case. PSI may account for background processes which seldom affect a real-time user’s browsing experience. Again, basic latency measurements do not account for server-side processing, nor do they factor in changes for recurring visits (which involve offline caching as opposed to first-byte time). In short, general tools like PSI are better suited for a broad spectrum of websites due to their selective focus on quantifiable metrics.

The fine line

The ideal course for you would be to place yourselves in the visitors’ shoes: think of the factors which would affect you, were you visiting a website that piqued your interest. Instead of concentrating your efforts on the improvement of basic metrics, try implementing specialized web solutions. A healthy SEO routine will always be a plus in this case. Pay attention to the overall responsiveness of your website, especially in the bits that matter the most (landing and target pages). Don’t worry about being outscored; as long as you’re being able to maintain constant engagement with your target audience, a perfect performance score should be the least of your concerns.

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