A high Google PageSpeed Insights score has become something of a mark of quality for Magento stores. And even though both Google and major Magento optimization teams underline how it’s not a good tool for measuring performance optimization, online retailers still rely on it to monitor how their store is doing in terms of speed and reliability.
That’s why we’ve created a small guide on how to quickly fix your Google PageSpeed score even if you have zero developer expertise. All our fixes are easy to implement, pack a lot of punch for minimum effort, and can be implemented within a day.
Fix #1. Get a Good CDN
A Content Delivery Network is not a cure-all for Magento stores but it’s as close to it as you can get. In addition to the obvious benefits of faster asset delivery and lowered latency, a CDN offers a set of features that can make your Magento store faster:
- media optimization (a CDN knows how to reduce the overall image size without compromising quality),
- minification and compression of static assets such as CSS, JS, and HTML files (creating smaller assets can definitely help with serving them faster even on slower networks),
- swap older JPEG files for the modern WebP format for browsers that support it (images load faster and take up less space),
- convert images to progressive format (progressive images load in a different way than conventional ones, offering users a sense of higher performance even though technically the store loads at the same speed),
- prioritize HTTP/2 and QUIC protocols to load files faster and out of sync,
- fine-tune cache age to optimal values,
- serve different image versions to different users (multiversioning is useful when the browser needs a smaller size image, for example).
Installing and configuring a CDN doesn’t require a lot of technical expertise. Most of the time you’ll be able to deal with the task without too much difficulty. A CDN is one of the best solutions for Magento frontend performance. Its integration can significantly improve your Google PageSpeed score because of the sheer amount of useful fixes that it offers.
Even though a CDN is the best tool in our toolbox, we would like to show you two more options how to speed up your store and hopefully make its PageSpeed score even higher.
Fix #2. Choose a Capable Magento Hosting
Magento is a demanding and resource-intensive platform that requires a focused support team to help you squeeze every last bit of performance out of the server.
Unfortunately, most of the time Magento store owners don’t see a good hosting provider as a worthwhile investment. Instead of matching their store requirements with a capable server environment, they are looking into how to optimize Magento to stuff it into the restrictive boundaries of a shared hosting solution or a barebones virtual private server.
That’s why it’s so important that you carefully choose your Magento hosting environment and even more meticulously – your provider’s tech support team. Those will be the people who will help you configure the environment and deal with any potential technical difficulties you might encounter.
A good hoster and a powerful server will translate in a visible improvement to Google PageSpeed score. The stronger the server, the more issues it will mitigate connected to CPU bottlenecks – and CPU is the most common narrow point in Magento web stores. So don’t doubt whether you need a stronger server – chances are you should just upgrade.
Our recommendations here: do your research. Read reviews, ask around, talk to community experts, compare the offers from different providers, ask these hosters specific questions.
Fix #3. Optimize Magento Admin Settings
Magento Admin section is often overlooked but it’s an effective vector of Magento optimization. One of the advantages of Magento Admin Panel optimization is that you don’t really need to do extremely technical stuff. Just follow simple instructions on how to change specific settings within Magento.
Enable Flat Catalogs. This is an effective fix when you have thousands of unique products in the store. Flat catalogs and products change the way Magento saves product attributes in the store. Instead of keeping them in separate database tables it builds a flat structure that helps the server fetch attribute values much faster than before. Go to Stores > Settings > Configuration > Catalog > Storefront and change these two options to Yes.
Change CSS settings. Unoptimized CSS can seriously impact performance so it’s a good idea to make this impact as low as possible. Go to Stores > Configuration > Advanced > Developer and change to YES Minify and Merge CSS settings.
Change HTML settings. HTML settings are located at Stores > Configuration > Advanced > Developer > Template Settings. Turn on HTML minification to save data and speed up web page loading. Minified code is less readable but much more compact which is a great feature when you are concerned about delivery performance.
Bonus Fix. Enable Elasticsearch!
In-store search does not really impact Google PageSpeed Insights score but it’s nevertheless something you should implement. Elasticsearch is a tremendous user experience improvement and offers huge quality-of-life benefits to your customers.
The thing is, more often than not in-store search is one of the most frustrating elements of the whole shopping experience if it’s slow or inaccurate. For users in a hurry the quality of your search can be the difference between a completed purchase and a lost customer.
Elasticsearch offers easy horizontal scaling, fast results, smart search capabilities, synonyms and stop words use, and multi-language support.
Go to Stores > Settings > Configuration > Catalog > Catalog > Catalog Search to enable Elasticsearch. The setup process is more involved than the previous 3 fixes but it gives you enough benefits to make it worth your while. Once you enable the desired version of Elasticsearch, you need to follow this guide to fully install this new search engine.
Note: Magento-focused hosting providers will be closely familiar with Elasticsearch and often have ready-to-use Elasticsearch integration solutions for you to use. See how it all comes together? A good Magento hosting provider will make your life so much easier, in so many aspects.
Getting the Perfect Score. Do You Even Need It?
Google PageSpeed score is based on dozens of separate audits that assess the speed of your store in so many ways it’s hard to even list them here. What you need to understand is that the score is meaningless if you chase it alone, without looking at user experience and user engagement first. Those are the real metrics you want to raise.
The way your customers browse, how they behave on Checkout, at the Shopping Cart, or on the Product Grid. See where conversions grow or drop and how you can improve. After all, real people bring in real sales. Robots are not as important to your store.