Wouldn't it be nice if you could see your website through the eyes of Google?
We all know that the details of the Google algorithm are kept top secret. At the same time, we have a lot of information on the aspects that Google considers important when evaluating a website.
In addition, Google offers a variety of free tools that we can use to improve our websites. One such tool is Google Lighthouse.
One ranking factor that we know is becoming increasingly important is the page experience. Google Lighthouse could be the tool you need to make sure your website works in this and many other areas.
What is Google Lighthouse?
Google Lighthouse is a free tool that offers powerful insights to improve your website. By creating a lighthouse report, you can evaluate the page experience of any website and access valuable tips to improve its performance.
Google recently put an emphasis on the page experience, including adding a new set of Core Web Vital signals. The signals show how a user is experiencing your page and you can see how your website is doing in that area through Lighthouse.
Since Lighthouse is a Google application, this can be a great way to see your website the way Google might see it, knowing that recommendations come straight from the search engine giant itself.
One great thing about Lighthouse is that it gives you actionable insights while being easy to use. With just a few clicks, you can get detailed information about the page experience and meaningful insights into the performance improvement.
With more than 3.5 billion searches a day, Google is by far the most popular search engine. It is therefore extremely useful to see how your website is being displayed and measured.
What metrics does Google Lighthouse measure?
Each Lighthouse report has five categories: Performance, Accessibility, Best Practices, SEO, and Progressive Web App. Google has confirmed that aspects such as loading speed and mobile experience are incorporated into the algorithm. With these metrics, you can potentially see how you are doing in these critical areas.
With a clear 1-100 rating system, you can use Lighthouse to review your pages and find opportunities for improvement. You can expand each section for detailed insights and places to quickly improve your page as shown in the screenshot below.
Once you've implemented the changes, you can go back to Lighthouse to see if they've improved your score.
For example, if you expand the "Performance", you will find data that is directly linked to the most important web vitalities, e.g. B. the time until the interactive and first content-related painting.
These metrics give you an idea of how fast your page loads and how quickly it is perceived to be loading. In other words, it's not just about how fast the entire page loads. It takes about that long before the user can interact with it properly.
This information is extremely important as the perceived loading speeds make a huge difference in how users interact with your website:
- 46% of people say that waiting for pages to load is the worst part of their mobile browsing experience.
- The average mobile landing page takes 15.3 seconds to load.
- On average, users spend 70% more time on pages that load in five seconds.
- For every 100 milliseconds it takes your website to load, your conversion rate can drop by 7%.
These metrics make up a large part of the user experience. Lighthouse uses the most important web vitals to give you an understanding of the quality and performance of your website. If you have this information, and even helpful tips on how to improve its performance, you will likely get a lot of the information you need to make technical improvements to your website.
How does Google Lighthouse work?
You can imagine getting a good sense of how fast your pages load by typing your URL into the search bar and checking whether it loads well or not.
However, different people surf the internet in very different ways, and the way someone on the other side of the world searches for your website may be very different from how you do it.
Google knows that most of its traffic comes from mobile devices, and it also knows that the majority of users don't have access to super-fast 4G or 5G. To simulate this, Google is testing your website by visiting your website over a sub-optimal 3G connection on a slow device.
Why is Google doing this?
Well, pretty much any website can load quickly over a 5G connection, but that's not a benefit for the majority of people who don't have access as quickly as this. Google wants to send all users to the best page to answer their search queries. The goal is therefore to rate websites with the best experience.
If your site works fine with a bad 3G connection, it will work fine with the latest 5G connection. So Google learns more about your website by testing it with the 3G connection.
If that's how Google rates your website, it should also rate your website. This is why Google Lighthouse can be so helpful.
The role of the most important web vitals in Google Lighthouse
As mentioned before, Google put a lot of emphasis on the page experience, and it makes perfect sense: How users experience your website is crucial. Google's recent announcements about key web vitalities are the next step in this evolution and are expected to become a ranking factor in 2021.
The Top Web Vitals are some of the first few insights on your Lighthouse report. It is clear that these signals are important to Google. Therefore, they have a prominent place in the performance section of your report.
Core web vitals have three key metrics. Even if the language is a bit complicated, they are elements that you as the end user can appreciate:
Loading – Largest Content Color (LCP)
As a user, the entire page does not necessarily have to load quickly. You only need the most important content. If a website is slow to load the most meaningful content (“biggest color”), it frustrates users and can cause them to bounce off the page.
Most of the time, we place the critical, noticeable information above the fold – this is the content that needs to load the fastest.
Interactivity – First Entry Delay (FID)
First Entry Delay is an important metric as it measures a user experience error that annoys anyone who has ever used the Internet.
You know when you hit the submit button on a form and nothing seems to happen, so you end up clicking it aggressively over and over again?
The first input delay measures the time between the user initiating an action (e.g., clicking Submit) and the website taking that action (sending it to the next page). A long delay in first typing can be frustrating for users and cause them to leave your page and look for information elsewhere.
Visual stability – Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
You may encounter another UX flaw frequently while browsing on a mobile device: Cumulative layout shift.
"Cumulative layout shift" is when content moves on the screen as the site loads. This doesn't seem like a huge problem at first, but the problem arises when you click on something and it suddenly moves. It's uncomfortable for the end user, so it's an important metric to look out for.
The differences between PageSpeed Insights and Google Insights
You might be thinking, "This all sounds great, but how is Lighthouse different from PageSpeed Insights?"
When you enter a URL into PageSpeed Insights, you'll see insights that look very similar to Google Lighthouse. There are a few important differences, however.
The main difference is that PageSpeed Insights focuses on page performance only. Google Lighthouse provides a complete picture of your site experience by analyzing accessibility, best practices, SEO and progressive web apps.
"What good is PageSpeed Insights if Google Lighthouse offers a deeper analysis of my website?" I hear you ask
PageSpeed Insights relies on real-world data to assess your website's performance as well as laboratory analysis. Lighthouse only uses laboratory analysis in its report. While the results are based on a comprehensive scan of your website, they are not necessarily the real-world experience your users will get.
"So you're saying that PageSpeed Insights is a better way to measure performance?"
If your only concern is performance, PageSpeed Insights has all of the information that Lighthouse does – but with the bonus of real world data gathered from interactions with your website. However, the success of your website depends on the entire website. This is where Google Lighthouse comes in.
There's no point in bumping your performance score from 55 to 60 if the changes you made are causing your accessibility and SEO to drop. If your only focus is on PageSpeed Insights, this is a possibility.
However, if you keep an eye on Google Lighthouse, you can make sure that the changes you make will have an overall positive impact on your website.
How to use Google Lighthouse
Google Lighthouse gives you pretty technical analysis of your website, but you don't need to be tech-savvy to run it. In fact, it only takes one click of the keyboard and two clicks of the mouse.
There are two ways you can run Lighthouse: through developer tools and a Chrome add-on.
Google Lighthouse in Developer Tools
- Open your destination website in Google Chrome.
- Click F12 or Ctrl + Shift + J for Windows and Shift + Command + I on Mac to open the Developer Audit Panel.
- On the tabs above, select the two arrows to expand the menu.
- Click on "Lighthouse" in the drop-down menu.
- Choose whether you want to analyze the performance of mobile devices or desktops
- Click on "Generate Report".
Chrome add-on for Google Lighthouse
- Find Lighthouse in the Chrome web store.
- Select "Add to Chrome" and click "Add Extension".
- Click the puzzle icon in the top right corner of your browser.
- Select the lighthouse icon.
- Click on "Generate Report".
- A new tab will open with your report.
Also, keep in mind that if you are using additional SEO tools like Ubersuggest, they are likely to pull information from Lighthouse for you.
When you run a URL through Ubersuggest, you can find performance data on your dashboard with the same information that you see in your Lighthouse reports.
This makes it a central place for all of your SEO needs and combines information about your website's performance with keyword and competitor analysis.
Lighthouse offers a little insight into the assessment of your website by Google. Not only is this important in order to rank well in the search engines, but it also gives you vital data on how users experience your website, regardless of how they land there.
The page experience is becoming an increasingly important factor for Google. it has to become important for website owners alike.
Lighthouse provides the insights you need to significantly improve the way your users experience your website. This can make a huge difference in how successful your website is in achieving your goals.
With Lighthouse, Google offers free information to improve your website and it takes almost no time to generate a report. Make the most of it!
Is Lighthouse your favorite google tool? If not, which one?