Google Page Speed Insights is on the forefront of every Shopify store owners mind ever since Shopify added a glaring widget to their theme dashboard in late 2020. Storefront owners were shocked to discover that their seemingly fast and fluid website scored extremely badly - what was going on?
Google uses its Page Speed Insights score as a benchmark for your website’s performance and factors that in to the way it ranks you. Potentially penalizing sites with poor scores.
Why does my site score poorly?
First and foremost it is worth acknowledging that Page Speed’s guidelines make some pretty radical and extremely biased suggestions as to how your website code is structured and delivered. It’s no surprise that Google AMP, a framework Google would like you to adopt, uses every one of their suggested techniques. If you’re a Shopify merchant, your ability to produce a Google AMP site from your Shopify theme is pretty close to zero. Doing it as part of a headless system would be entirely possible but would also present many additional development challenges and costs.
Page Speed’s guidelines suggest some pretty radical and extremely biased suggestions as to how your website code is structured and delivered
It’s worth pointing out that a poor Google Page Speed score is not indicative of a slow website. On the contrary, many blazingly fast sites and headless implementations score extremely badly. Their user experience is 100% but their score is still low.
It’s obvious why Shopify added that widget to the dashboard now: they want to ensure all their merchants are running well scoring sites because if 90% of Shopify’s store-fronts score badly, it won’t be long until word of the ecomm-street is that “Shopify sites are slow” and Shopify does not want that. That could literally cause a fluctuation in their share price if such speculation were to circulate.
How can I improve my score?
Talk to your development team to strategize the best course of action. Sites that are using off the shelf themes with dozens of code-injecting add-ones will for certain score poorly.
If your site is more than a couple of years old it's worth acknowledging that some of the methods now employed by developers to achieve good Page Speed scores were barely in their infancy then and certainly not common practice. The web is an ever changing environment, and businesses need to consider long term strategies for how they own and operate web properties.
Simply changing your UI design pattern can help avoid many of the Page Speed pitfalls: huge hero banners of images or videos at the top of the page will always score poorly no matter how compressed the assets are. Likewise large text areas. Images can always score poorly if not served in exactly the right resolution for the screen size, but by merely making images smaller in the UI design layout can produce impressive results.
Just like ADA & SEO compliance, Page Speed scoring is not just “code tweaking” - it’s starts at the design phase.
If you have questions about Google Page Speed Insights, contact us.