In this post, you'll learn about the new Lighthouse Site Speed tool from Google, and how you can use it to improve a website's overall performance and SEO.
’To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful’’
Googles mission statement clearly articulates the essence of why their organization exists.
In hopes of accomplishing this grand task, Google continues to innovate in the digital information landscape by bringing only the most relevant, authentic, and original content to its users.
For this purpose, not only does this tech giant constantly roll out new platforms and algorithms to edge closer to their goal, but they also provide tools to developers who can help them achieve their mission of making information universally accessible and useful.
Now, one such step in the right direction is the new Lighthouse website review tool, which you may or may not have heard about.
Lighthouse is an open-source, automated tool for helping webmasters and web developers improve the quality and performance of website pages. Watch the video below.
This powerful tool can provide some valuable insight into page load speeds and overall optimization of your website so that it functions as smoothly as possible, regardless of the channels your webpage is operating on.
Google’s new Lighthouse has a direct impact on SEO since the search engine values metrics help make the site more accessible, streamlined and convenient for the end-user.
OK, so below, we’ll take a look at some of the characteristics of the Lighthouse tool so that you can get familiar with them when you need to get your website or platform performing well in the search engines.
Let’s dive in.
There are two ways of getting your hands on the Lighthouse tool.
If you are already on the latest version of Chrome or anything higher than Chrome 60, then you can simply right-click on any page you wish to run an audit on and select the ‘Inspect’ option, or input Ctrl+Shift+I command for the shortcut. See image below.
Doing this will open up the Google Developers menu where you can navigate to the ‘Audits’ tab. See image below.
Choose the desired platform or device: Mobile or Desktop, then select the specific audits you would like to run and the connection you want to tailor the results to.
Alternatively, you can just download and install the web extension from the Chrome Store.
After doing so, simply click on the lighthouse icon on the top right of your browser and run the audit while staying on the particular page you want to review. See images below.
You should note, regardless of what method you opt of initiating the service, make sure to close all other tabs besides the one you want to run the audit on. This is to make sure the tool functions properly.
In any case, if you have other tabs open and try to use the tool, you'll be prompted to close those other tabs.
It’s also worthy to note that the extended version comes with the whole package including the Print and Share option, this option will not be accessible by ‘inspecting’ the page.
PageSpeed has been running for quite some time as the only real tool that web developers and website owners could use to measure their website’s performance.
However, the results are often indecisive and not definitive as there is no precedence or priority associated with one metric, so sometimes a website with a very good visualization may win over one that has little issues with the server response time, even though the latter is clearly a more valued metric to all web developers and designers.
So, the score is based on arbitrary values, that does not take into account the priority of the issues and the fact that certain issues can overshadow the success of the website in other areas.
Not to mention the PageSpeed tool also has certain limitations when it comes to staying on the same page as that of the ever-changing SEO landscape where best practices and valuable metrics change with trends and time.
The Lighthouse tool deals with this problem straight away by getting rid of an overall score and instead of settling for an individual score based on five separate categories:
Each of these categories will include individual analysis and reports. Within each of these five areas, you have smaller components such as Input Latency, Image optimization and Render blocks.
This allows you to look at every inch of your website in detail and act accordingly to address any issues.
Thanks to the Recommendations and Guidelines provided for each issue with the website under the ‘Best Practices’ tab, you can focus step-by-step and ensure that you are not left confused by just a general overall score that either tells you that the website is bad or otherwise.
In short, the Lighthouse tool provides a much more comprehensive and focused approach at the infrastructure and technicalities of a digital platform than what PageSpeed is capable of.
Apart from its design and structure of focusing on five key areas as I mentioned above, there are solutions or namely ‘Opportunities’ for each issue (Diagnostics). See image below.
Every area is scored out of a 100 with smaller individual problems being marked on a scale corresponding to colors, with red being a critical issue in that department and green signaling that things are working just right.
What you will have to pay special attention to most of the time, is the Performancessection since this has a directly correlated to how you can optimize your page load speeds and give users a more streamlined experience.
There are also other very useful functions at your disposal here, including the Print and Share options that let you take your time with the report and get your team’s and colleagues’ views on it. This way the in-house auditing and discussion process is made easier and more reasonable.
So there you have it, I hope this post has helped you to make sense of the Lighthouse tool and how useful it can be.
Do let me know your thoughts, though. Are you currently using or experimenting with the Lighthouse tool for your website or web design projects?
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The very best of luck.
Sohail Rupani is a Senior SEO Strategist for an agency known for best SEO Services in Orlando ‘PNC Digital‘. He specializes in SEO and SEM techniques. He is passionate about technology and loves to analyze the tech industry in his spare time and stay in touch with the latest happenings. He also writes technical articles about SEO and digital marketing. Follow @sohailrupani for more updates.