The Fallacies of Google PageSpeed Insights

18 Jul 2023
Page Speed

PageSpeed Insights, created by Google, is a freely available tool known for its straightforward scoring and colour-coded system. Yet, it’s a dubious choice for gauging or enhancing your website’s performance, particularly for WordPress users. Here’s an explanation of why.

What Makes Google PageSpeed Insights Inadequate?

While Google Page Speed Insights may come highly recommended by non-technical individuals in blogging and advertising circles, at HealthHosts, we advise against its use, both for measuring site speed and implementing its suggestions for improvement. Here are the reasons:

Misrepresentation of Real-World Page Speed

This is the primary issue. Often, the scores and colour codes from Google PageSpeed Insights bear no relation to the actual speed or optimization of a website. Though not always the case, it is a common occurrence. These scores and colour codes lack consistency and aren’t reflective of real-world speed testing.

Actual load time in seconds, page size, and the number of requests your website makes are the true indicators of site speed. The number of requests pertains to the various elements required for page loading, including fonts, images, etc. For instance, ad scripts could cause hundreds of requests on a blogger’s page. This explains why ad networks might suggest using Google PageSpeed Insights, as comprehensive speed tests could expose how ads add numerous requests to your page.

Originated for Developer Code Refinement

Initially, PageSpeed Insights was a Google project intended to assist web developers in making subtle adjustments to their websites during construction or redevelopment.

Contrary to its claims, the majority of its recommendations will barely impact your site’s speed, typically only reducing a few kilobytes, which is undetectable to human users. Instead, investing your time elsewhere, especially if you’re noticing slow site performance, will bring better returns.

Dependence on Automated Checks

PageSpeed Insights doesn’t comprehend your unique website, its purpose, or your objectives. It mostly performs automated checks looking for generic code pieces and yields a binary result. Hence, it fails to identify the problematic file on your site that’s slowing down page load. It often flags irrelevant issues and over emphasizes factors that don’t significantly impact your real-world website speed or user experience.

Unfit for WordPress Websites

As it’s not tailored for WordPress, it fails to provide useful insights such as which plug-ins are hindering your site’s speed, or the display of too many full blog posts on your homepage. Furthermore, it overlooks WordPress-specific issues that can drastically impact your site’s performance.


Users often report score and colour discrepancies upon testing their site with PageSpeed Insights at different times without any site modifications. Google’s senior analyst, John Mueller, has also noted this inconsistency, suggesting the tool be used as a guide for potential improvements rather than a definitive benchmark.

Proposes Experimental Measures

PageSpeed Insights tends to favour other Google tools and creations, some of which are experimental or in beta and may not be compatible with many browsers. For example, it suggests using image file types that are still in beta and aren’t universally supported or understood, which wouldn’t be worth the time and effort for established sites.

Score Improvements Don’t Necessarily Mean Faster Websites

A higher grading score or colour does not directly translate into a faster website. Only the actual metrics like your site speed in seconds are relevant for evaluating site speed. For instance, improving your PageSpeed Insights score from 50 to 80 may not reflect any noticeable speed enhancement for users or search engines.

Assesses Sites Based on 3G Mobile Performance

PageSpeed Insights uses a slow 3G connection for mobile testing, which underestimates the browsing experience of users with faster connections, such as 4G, 5G, or standard broadband.

Neglects Important Speed Factors

Several easy-to-implement changes that could significantly enhance your site’s speed aren’t considered by PageSpeed Insights. Also, it doesn’t provide useful tips for WordPress site owners, and many important speed factors are omitted.

Recommends Changes That Could Break Your WordPress Site

PageSpeed Insights, not being designed for WordPress websites, can suggest changes like deferring certain JavaScript files that could potentially disrupt your site if implemented. Thus, unless you fully understand the implications, it’s safer to avoid implementing changes based on its recommendations.

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