Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool has been one of the most valuable tools in an SEOs armoury for some time now. Since its initial launch back in October of 2013, SEOs have been using the tool as a stick to beat clients with about the speed of their websites and the importance of delivering a super-fast experience to users.
Page speed became even more important as of July 2018 when Google announced that page speed would now be used as a ranking factor in their mobile search results. Previously, page speed had been an important consideration for users, however, it was never confirmed as a ranking factor until January 2018 when Google’s announcement gave webmasters plenty of time to get their sites up to speed.
Tracking and monitoring page speed scores
Over the past 2-3 years, we have been actively monitoring and tracking page speed scores for all our clients. This is a hugely time-consuming task which involves a lot of man hours as unfortunately the process relies on you manually entering each page that you want to monitor and then recording those scores in some sort of spreadsheet, tracking the changes over time using some clever Excel fu.
That’s all about to change, however.
Whether there was already a solution out there or not for automating this process, there certainly wasn’t one we had found and there definitely wasn’t one that was this easy to implement.
We stumbled across a fantastic blog by James McNulty on the Moz Blog. He has come up with an ingenious solution for tracking and monitoring the PageSpeed score on multiple URLs using the Google PageSpeed Insights API and Google Sheets.
Our reaction to this – just wow.
How PageSpeed Insight Automation works
We’re definitely not going to steal James’ thunder on this one. Make sure you head over to his blog where he gives a full rundown of how to set up the PageSpeed Insights Automation including setting up your API key and providing a copy of the Google Sheet.
What we want to talk about is more about how it works and how it will save you time and help to refine your efforts when it comes to improving page speed scores.
Put simply, the PageSpeed API will crawl any URL you enter into the spreadsheet. There is a limit to how many pages it can crawl in an hour so you will need to set up some scheduling but once it pulls all that data down, you can then push it into a log tab which will record the data every week for you.
This then allows you to compare your page speed performance across all of your key pages on a weekly basis. We have set up some additional Google Sheets fu in order to help us compare and easily identify pages that have sped up or slowed down on a weekly basis – showing us a simple snapshot of the scores and the movement.
Why should you set this up?
As we have already mentioned, page speed is now a ranking factor on mobile (and since nearly every site has now moved over to mobile-first indexing, let’s just say that page speed is a ranking factor). That means it’s not only important from the perspective of delivering a fantastic user experience, it also impacts your rankings.
Taking an annual, bi-annual or even monthly health check of your page speed scores is no longer sufficient. This new tool allows you to keep right on top of your page speed scores and identify pages that need to be improved. It also helps you to identify any pages that are underperforming and fix them.
We were monitoring page speed scores for some clients on a monthly basis but for others, it would be quarterly (due to time limitations). The manual process of collecting the data meant that we were focussing only on a handful of the most important pages to the business. Whilst we still have to prioritise in order to maximise our crawl efficiency with the API, we can now crawl a lot more pages across our client’s sites to ensure we are seeing the bigger picture.