Google PageSpeed and Your Shopify Store

If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me about the Google PageSpeed score of their new Shopify store I would have a lot of nickels. So many nickels that I thought it was worthwhile to share my two cents on the subject. Coin-based idioms aside, let’s get to the root of what Google PageSpeed is and what it means for your Shopify store.

What is Google PageSpeed?

How fast a web page loads is a key consideration for search engine ranking. Google PageSpeed Insights is a resource to quickly analyze your website’s page loading speed. Online users have grown accustomed to almost instantaneous loading and statistics indicate that most web users leave a website if it fails to load within 5 seconds. Due to these trends, Google’s ranking algorithms place a great deal of emphasis on page loading speed so that web traffic on the information superhighway gets to the intended destination quickly. For an eCommerce business, taking measures to optimize page loading speed will not only help users find your site through Google’s search ranking, but also serve to help conversions by mitigating any speed-bumps.

A faster site does mean better SEO, but...

The simple explanation of Google PageSpeed tends to give people the wrong idea about what the report actually means. The report is just a number. An algorithm quickly parses your site and spits out a grade. With the word ‘speed’ in the name, you’d think it would measure that, right? Well, it doesn’t. That’s right, Google PageSpeed does not even test the page loading speed of most sites. Your site has to be super popular for Google to care to test that.

The report that Google quickly gives your site does not take into consideration the goal of your website. While solving all of the “issues” found on your website’s Google PageSpeed report might clear up some issues found in your code, and maybe make your site a little bit faster, it really will not affect your Shopify store’s SEO ranking too much.

Let's talk about what it's saying

Google PageSpeed Shopify Store

Now that we understand the number is made up, let's talk about what else it is saying. What is it asking you to do? I created a brand new store on Shopify and made no changes to it. You can find that store here and feel free to run the test yourself. Out of the box, a Shopify store scores around an 80/100 on mobile and a 90/100 on desktop. I had 76/100 come up for mobile and 79/100 come up as well during the research for this blog. Why not 100/100? Let's talk about that.

There are three standard suggestions for a Shopify store:

  1. Eliminate render-blocking JavaScript and CSS in above-the-fold content
  2. Leverage browser caching
  3. Minify JavaScript

None of these are actually errors. Google actually calls them suggestions. Without getting technical, my advice is to ignore these suggestions. Why? It's not worth the effort to try and get a better score than that. This page is as fast as you're gonna get on Shopify. How fast is that? I ran a test on Pingdom because I wanted to know. It loaded in 766 ms and is faster than 93% of sites online.

Pingdom Speed Test

Your goal should be those numbers.

Once you start adding content, products, and making your website your own, you'll typically start to see your Google PageSpeed score drop. When it comes to Shopify, there are several reasons why your PageSpeed score will drop. Yet there are also tried and true methods to fix them.

  1. Optimizing Images

In my opinion this is the biggest factor affecting PageSpeed. It's also the easiest to fix. Typically, images on any Shopify store account for 50% to 75% of the total data being downloaded. The higher the quality and quantity of images used, the more data you need to load, which is what will ultimately slow the loading process. To ensure your Shopify web store loads quickly, make sure to optimize your images for web.

  1. Use Shopify's Hosting Service

In spite of all your efforts to optimize images, your web speed can still suffer if you host your images on a different server. Be sure to utilize Shopify to host your content. Additionally, Shopify has a built in Content Delivery Network (CDN) to minimize load times for customers.

  1. Limit Your Use Of Custom Fonts

Many web stores use fancy Google fonts which can interfere with the website speed. If you want to maintain streamlined loading speed for all your Shopify store pages, limit yourself to 1 or 2 fonts. By using standard fonts you relieve your pages from loading additional elements that can undermine loading speed.

  1. Limit The Amount Of Apps You're Using

Every app you use adds time and data to your page load. Poor code structure can create obstructions that impede the normally smooth and fast loading of a web page. Make sure you really need the app you're installing and uninstall the ones you don't use. You can even test your site before and after you install an app to see how it affects your PageSpeed.

Kylie Jenner does not care about PageSpeed

Okay, I honestly do not know if that is true. One time she did ditch me in line for a beer at Coachella, but that's not what this blog is about. This blog is about PageSpeed, so lets look at the PageSpeed of her brand, Kylie Cosmetics. Why did I choose this eCom site? It is built on Shopify and absolutely crushes it in revenue.

Kylie Cosmetics PageSpeed

This Shopify store comes back with a mobile score of 89/100 and a 'terrible' 50/100 for desktop. Wouldn't you expect better grades from such a large brand? I don't know her digital team or their strategy, but my opinion is they don't care. Chasing a made up grade isn't a priority for them. Focusing on building a great brand and creative marketing campaigns will do better in the long run for any brand. Go and search your competitors and see where they rank.

In conclusion, Google PageSpeed does not matter

Shopify is a well built platform with many pre-loaded options to boost performance and speed. Google PageSpeed, Pingdom, and all other grading softwares are just tools. There is no magic bullet to reward you with higher rankings or more sales. Those require hard work, creative marketing, and making decisions based upon the data available to you.