Understand the search engine’s weighting of website metrics
Have you ever wondered how Google measures the performance of a website? Metrics used by the search engine are vital in how it scores each site and determines when and where a website will appear in the search results. Every business wants its website to rank well, but getting there and understanding the process is another hurdle to jump.
In this article, we take hold of the reins and lead you in the right direction… Discover what a Google performance score is and how to boost your ratings. We discuss the benefit of Google PageSpeed Insights and how this metric can contribute to the overall scoring system. Finally, we discuss the 2023 score updates on Google and what it means for your website – read on to find out more.
What is a Google performance score?
First things first, before we get carried away and disappear into detail, let’s answer the initial question; what is a Google performance score? Well, this term refers to metrics used by the search engine to evaluate the performance of websites in their search results. This is done in six key ways:
- PageSpeed Insights (PSI) – To measure how fast pages load when being viewed on mobile and desktop devices
- Mobile-friendliness – To assess if pages are mobile-friendly and easy to use on handheld devices
- Safe Browsing – To check if a site has been compromised by suspicious activity, such as hacking
- HTTPS Security – To inspect if sites use HTTPS encryption – also known as Transport Layer Security (TLS) – for secure network communication
- Structured Data – To help Google understand on-page content to determine relevance and authority for rich snippet text (such as Google Featured Snippets)
- Backlinks – To determine the quality and quantity of other websites that point to yours
- Click-through Rate (CTR) – To understand the relevance of a page and how much it is (or isn’t!) in demand
- Dwell Time – To confirm how long people stay on a page after clicking on it
So why do each of the six points above matter we hear you ask?! It’s all down to being as user-friendly as possible – the quicker and more efficient the website is, the better it will rank. Top performers get top scores! Here’s why:
- Google wants pages to load quickly
- Pages built to perform on mobile devices do better
- Sites that are safe rank higher
- Sites using HTTPS encryption get a bigger boost in rankings
- Schema markup SEO practices help Google understand your content more clearly
- More quality backlinks from other sites help improve rankings
- Pages with higher click-through rates perform better
- A high dwell time will match the user’s search intent and have a good score impact
So there you have it – making the website user-friendly results in better engagement and in turn, reflects well on the overall Google performance score. As the late great Sir Bruce Forsyth exclaimed on Play Your Cards Right (now we’re going back a bit!) “What do points make? Prizes!” or in this case, points equal the quality of being rankable – although that’s not such a catchy saying is it…
How important is Google PageSpeed Insights?
Probably one of the biggest impacts on the Google performance score system is PageSpeed Insights (PSI). As we’ve explained above, PSI is a measure of how quickly a web page can load when clicked on – this is assessed both on desktop and mobile devices to get a better understanding of performance in this particular area.
Remember, the point here is all about the user experience – and as is the nature of people nowadays – we don’t like to be kept waiting! That’s why any websites which are timely to load, or have pages that do not appear quickly enough, will be penalised (not literally of course, we’re purely talking about search result performance here). Fast websites are the way forward!
Here are eight things you need to know about PageSpeed Insights:
- It evaluates how fast pages load on mobile and desktop devices by giving a score out of 100 (the higher the better)
- It identifies ways in which speed can be improved. Think of it like an optimisation guru; suggestions such as minimising images, reducing server response time, and eliminating render-blocking resources are most likely
- It recognises that page speed expectations differ across devices and provides separate mobile and desktop scores for absolute clarity
- It uses real-world data from the Chrome User Experience Report to identify performance pain points
- It factors in Google rankings to align with search result best practices
- It measures technical performance through what’s called ‘Lab Data’
- It utilises ‘Field Data’ to access and assess historical URL performance
- It allows API access so that website developers (like us) can access PageSpeed Insights data through an integrated piece of software
Google performance score updates
Just like your smartphone needs updating every so often, Google rolls out updates across its range of online monitoring technologies – including the performance score system and PageSpeed Insights. Here’s what you can expect:
- Increased emphasis on Core Web Vitals (these are a series of metrics developed to measure website user experience in real time)
- PageSpeed Insights updates for improved algorithm testing
- Mobile-first indexing preferences to favour smartphone users
- Chrome UX Report integration for real-world user experience metrics
- Browser caching updates to better capture uncached page loads
- Site speed will have an even greater impact on search ranking going forward
- Introduction of new metrics alongside existing ones (like Time to First Byte and First Contentful Paint)
- Less weighting is given to HTTP sites in favour of HTTPS sites to reward security
How do Google performance score and PageSpeed Insight changes affect websites?
The big question for us to address is what Google performance scores and PageSpeed Insight changes in 2023 mean for websites, and what the implications are when it comes to performance online.
Ultimately, you’ll want your website to comply with these parameters so it can 1) perform at its best and 2) achieve a favourable Google performance score. Here is how you can make improvements:
A user’s experience on mobile is everything – desktop view is now a secondary priority but is still important, so shouldn’t be overlooked. Ideally, navigation menus should be simplified and the layout well-designed and visually pleasing – even on the smallest screens.
It’s so important to ensure that your website is not only optimised for mobile but will load efficiently and quickly. The speed at which website pages load on mobile will go for or against you, so the speedier the better – think ‘slow is a no’!
If your website is still running off HTTP then it will likely be penalised for the lack of security. Instead, Google favours HTTPS sites as they offer a layer of increased security thanks to the added encryption and verification support.
If you’re a car dealer, then showcasing your stock will be the single biggest priority. Online showrooms have never been more important and allow potential customers to explore a vehicle in more detail. Vehicle listing pages will not only need optimising but also be highly responsive, have stability, and load speedily.
Online usability can be improved by reducing what’s called ‘content bloat’. This happens to website pages when there is a high volume of content – such as reams and reams of text stuffed with images and video in between. Pages like this make for difficult navigation and need to be managed properly.
Are your pages converting? A thorough analysis will help identify any pages that have high bounce rates so you can take the necessary action. A bounce rate of 40% or lower is where you ideally want to be.
Consider Core Web Vitals
Core Web Vitals play a big part in the overall Google performance score. These metrics measure website experience (good or bad!) through a series of tests which are: load speed, responsiveness, stability, and experience. Hitting these markers will give you Google brownie points – yay!
Don’t underestimate the power of benchmarking your success against the competition. Do this by measuring the performance of your website (including product and service pages) compared to others in your industry – always aim to be the best in class.
Once you’ve implemented all the necessary measures to improve your overall Google performance score, the hard work doesn’t stop there. Review your site regularly to check if it meets the latest updates and complies with current algorithms.
Your website must evolve in line with guidelines and best practices; aim for a mobile-first, user-centric approach that converts browsers into buyers.
Improve your Google performance score with a strong SEO strategy
All of the above is possible with a strong SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) strategy in place. Here at 67 Degrees, we work exclusively within the automotive industry and provide a range of digital marketing services to benefit your online brand.
Improving your Google performance score is just one of the ways in which we can enhance your presence online – let’s have a chat about what we can do for you and your dealership.