Google is finally bringing page speed into the mainstream Google interface. So far, we only had Google’s fuzzy statement that page speed is a factor in your Google search rankings. This has been the case for years. To support this, they’ve created lots of tools like PageSpeed insights, and even the Chrome developer tools has sections for performing page speed audits. Last week, Google finally brought page speed reports to the search console – marking the official assimilation of this parameter into their reports.
An Extension of Lighthouse
However, Lighthouse reports directly tested your site at a given time and came up with recommendations. They didn’t necessarily reflect real-world use interactions, which is of course, the end goal for any page speed improvement project.
How is the Search Console Report Different?
The Google search console report on page speed can be found on the left-hand sidebar as shown here:
You can see that it’s still marked as “experimental”, which means it’s going to develop quite a bit from now into its final form.
However, one thing stood out for me while going through its features. The speed of the site is measured in something called “FCP”, which stands for “First Contentful Paint”. It refers to the time taken for a user to actually see something – anything – on the browser after they click or type a URL in the address bar.
Here’s the quote for how FCP is calculated:
Aggregate FCP is the time it takes for 75% of the visits to a URL in this group to reach FCP.
This is an important development, because it means that Google is now measuring the actual times experienced by users, instead of handpicked tests on PageSpeed tools, and even Lighthouse. This has important consequences if your audience is geographically distributed.
Page Speed Now Depends on Where your Users Are
It means that even if you see fast speeds sitting in the US, your customers might experience something completely different. You have to optimize for them, and not for yourself.
The “Fast” Limit is Incredibly Tight
In the page report, you can see that most of my URLs are marked as “moderate” with average FCPs of around 2.1:
Personally, I think 2.1 is pretty damn good, considering that most of my visits come from overseas in locations that are pretty far-flung. But according to Google, it’s still “moderate”. To get into the “fast” category, you need to bring that down to 1 second or less.
I may have to eat my words later on, and if necessary, I will. But for now, I think 2 seconds and “moderate” page speed scores in the Google Search Console reports are just fine!
I’m a NameHero team member, and an expert on WordPress and web hosting. I’ve been in this industry since 2008. I’ve also developed apps on Android and have written extensive tutorials on managing Linux servers. You can contact me on my website WP-Tweaks.com!