Use Google Lighthouse as a signpost
As you may know, Google has been focusing its attention on user experience (UX) in recent years. Although content on the website and quality inbound links are still the cornerstones of Google success, usability is becoming increasingly important for websites to beat the competition on Google.
Google Lighthouse is a tool offered by Google to help website owners learn more about how Google sees your website.
Measure the performance of your website in one minute
So if you have a minute, you can now create a report that tells you exactly what Google thinks of your website 🙂
First, go to one of the many websites that can run Lighthouse online. Our favorite is the Measure tool on pagespeed.web.dev. There you enter the URL of the page whose performance you want to measure. An obvious place to start is the home page of your website.
Click "Analyze" and wait a few seconds while Lighthouse measures your page. Each rating is distributed to 100 points. Let's take a closer look at these values:
This metric is about speed and mobile usability. It measures things like:
- The time it takes for the first elements (text or images) of your website to appear on the user's screen.
- How long it took to fully display most of the page
- How long it took for the page to become "interactive" (i.e., you can fill out forms, click buttons, etc.)
- The number of jumps on the page during the loading process.
Why is the speed of a website important? Well, your users care. For every additional second of loading time on mobile, conversion rates can drop by up to 20%.
If your performance rating is low, don't be afraid! There are many ways you can improve your value. But it must be said that the performance metric is probably the most difficult of the four to improve, as it requires a very intense focus on the internal structure of your website.
This metric is about how easy your website is to use for all users, including those who use assistive technologies, such as visually impaired users who use screen readers.
These include easy-to-fix elements such as high-contrast labeling, easily distinguishable links and buttons, well-placed buttons that cannot be clicked by mistake, and correctly labeled form fields and buttons.
In general, websites should adhere to web content accessibility guidelines, and the Lighthouse report measures your website against some aspects of those guidelines.
Good news! These elements are often easy to fix without having to deal with your website's internals.
This metric measures how closely your website adheres to web best practices related to security. Aspects include:
- Use of https instead of http
- Avoiding the use of scripts that are known to have security vulnerabilities.
- Avoid internal errors
- Display images in the intended size and shape
Another good news! Most of these problems should be easy to fix. Using the most up-to-date software on your website is a good start. If your scripts generate errors, they can often be fixed or simply replaced with others that do not.
Lighthouse takes into account some basic SEO best practice techniques. Google doesn't reveal much information about how it ranks websites. Therefore, Lighthouse is one of the rare tools that Google has developed that will tell you something about how to improve your SEO.
Basic SEO best practices will drive your score up and maybe even to 100! Aspects include:
- Ensure that Google is allowed to access your site
- Use of a valid robots.txt file
- Use descriptive text in hyperlinks instead of non-descriptive text such as "Read more".
- Use of page titles and meta descriptions
Fortunately, most websites are created using software that takes care of most elements automatically. But it's always worth checking your website and getting it as close to 100% SEO as possible. This is usually not difficult to accomplish.
What if your rating is low?
First of all, don't panic. A low Lighthouse score does not mean that your website will not rank on Google. Even websites with minor security-related errors can still rank. But it's only fair to your users to make sure your website is fast, secure, error-free and accessible.
Follow the best practice guidelines provided by Lighthouse to improve your results. If you have any doubts or need assistance with some technical issues, you can contact us for advice.