Search Engine Optimization

What is Google PageSpeed Module?

By Dmitrii Kustov on February 28, 2019

In the uphill climb to navigate Google’s search rankings, Google sometimes kicks an avalanche downhill with an update, forcing businesses to divert their progress or get buried on page 52.

In 2010, Google launched one of their infamous announcements: that they would be using the loading time of a webpage as a factor in its ranking algorithm.

Since the initial scramble to update, it’s become common practice in the industry to monitor page speed, as it’s become clear that this directly impacts a website’s rankings.

What is the average loading time of a webpage nowadays?


The average time it takes to fully load the average mobile landing page is 22 seconds. However, research also indicates 53% of people will leave a mobile page if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.

MPS Research by Google in 2017

However, 2 years later, despite increasing pressure to drive that pesky loading time number down, the average time for a webpage to load is currently fluctuating between 6 and 13 seconds, depending on the industry:

IndustryAvg. Loading Time
Automotive9.5s
Business & Industrial Markets8.7s
Classifieds & Local7.9s
Finance9s
Media & Entertainment9s
Retail 9.8s
Technology11.3s
Travel10.1s

According to Machmetrics’ Data

The near-instantaneous internet service that users have come to expect renders tens seconds of load time unacceptable, and Google’s rejection of slow speed has firmly placed these outdated resources among the graveyard of dial-up and wired telephones.

When you can load cat pictures and YouTube masterpieces in a fraction of a second, why would you wait 13 seconds to load a company’s website?

With the rise of mobile use, visitors on the go, and Google’s dreaded “Slow” tag, there’s been a huge increase in demand for faster load times. As Google and users alike put more emphasis on loading time, companies are facing one obvious question:

“How do I make my website faster?”

This is where Pagespeed Module (also called mod_pagespeed) comes in handy.

What is PageSpeed Module? It’s a family of online tools and modules for Apache and Nginx servers, designed to help with a website’s speed optimization.

Although it may sound a bit overwhelming, it’s actually a simple tool that can make it much easier to get your website as fast as Google and your visitors want it to be.

Make even slow websites fast with Regex SEO

What Does PageSpeed Module Do?

It automatically optimizes the following components of your website:

  • Images
  • Stylesheets
  • Javascript
  • HTML

by

  • Minimizing
  • Combining
  • Resizing
  • Deleting obsolete elements

and generally improving all elements through cutting down the number of requests and their sizes, which leads to faster loading.

For a detailed list of available filters and their functions, take a look at Wikipedia article regarding Mod_pagespeed I wrote some time ago.

When applied correctly these tools can have a significant impact on your page’s loading time, but to understand how to effectively use PageSpeed module, you’ll need to know which settings are available.

There are three levels of mod_pagespeed “participation” to choose from:

  • CoreFilters – this is a safe level of participation, ensuring that nothing will break on the website, but only basic optimizations are applied, limiting its benefit.
  • AllFilters – this is a risky application that can actually damage your site, as it applies every possible filter and having an inadequate server could actually mean that it takes longer to apply these filters than the time reduced from your loading speed.
  • PassThrough – this one is tricky to apply, as it features full customization, but when applied correctly it carries the highest potential benefits. It can be easy to get lost in this one, so take care when adjusting settings, but once you get the hang of it you’ll be able to uniquely adjust each website’s settings for maximum optimization.

Now to focus on what we all really care about: numbers. These options sound good, but how much can they actually affect your page? Let’s look at some test results to see if it’s even worth it to use this module.

Test Results

I’ve run a dozen tests on completely different websites with widely varying resource sizes and initial loading times, and here are the resulting averages:

Loading Times Tests

Test #MPS OFF, secMPS ON, secImprovement, %
17.34.144
28.6542
314.25.462
46.23.937
58.24.150
67.94.346
75.13.433
818.93.880
94.23.126
1012.24.861
Avg.9.28s4.19s48.1%

Payload Size Tests

Test #MPS OFF, mbMPS ON, mbImprovement, %
17.34.242
28.66.129
322.116.824
46.25.610
58.26.620
67.96.715
75.13.924
841.34.589
94.23.712
1016.810.637
Avg.12.77mb6.87mb30.2%

Number Of Requests Tests

Test #MPS OFFMPS ONImprovement, %
1564814
2745822
320215623
4484017
516211927
6272315
7604820
831222229
9363114
1018715119
Avg.116.489.620%

These are some pretty significant numbers, with loading time increased by an impressive average of 48%. These numbers also reflect the averages, and some websites saw more drastic results.

For example, the largest time decrease was a staggering 80%! This website also saw a decrease in data size by an astounding factor of 90%.


Choosing the Best mod_pagespeed Filters

Google slow label
Google started experimenting with the “Slow” label back in 2015

Cutting your load time in half could spare you the “Slow” tag or boost you up a few spots (or even pages) in rankings.

Before you start scrambling to install it, take a few minutes to explore the filter options we listed above. Depending on your situation, a bit of digging to familiarize yourself with your options and learn your way around the module could earn you some impressive results.

As expected,

  1. The “PassThrough” filter’s customized combination wins first place, leaving its opponents far behind in every tested category. Although it requires a more in-depth knowledge of the module and careful application, this filter can be uniquely optimized for every website, allowing you to produce better results;
  2. In contrast, “CoreFilters” gives decent results on decreasing page load times, but not data size load;
  3. And “AllFilters” delivers good results on data optimizing, but can put a real strain on the server. Numbers like these clearly reflect that when the PageSpeed Module is applied effectively, websites can see significant improvements that can have a real impact on search engine rankings. They also outline that a steady hand on the “PassThrough” filter can turn your results up a few notches, making it worth it to learn the ins and outs of your filters.

Conclusion

The conclusion is very clear – go ahead and install PageSpeed Module!

Or is it?

First of all, it is not that easy to install it yourself – you’d need to know ins and outs of the server environment. And if you’re thinking “well, I’ll just ask my hosting provider to do that for me”, that most likely won’t cut it either – most hosting providers will not install mod_pagespeed for you.

Second, as I mentioned above, if you do manage to install it, then there is a risk of it going sideways when you mess with the settings.

Turns out, depending on what resources you load on your website, there might be some cases when you might not want to use MPS.

If you’re curious about PageSpeed in general, do read my other blog post about CSS sprites and how they affect loading speeds in PageSpeed environment. There you can read more research on loading speeds with PageSpeed Module.

And, finally, if you do think that PageSpeed Module application is the best way to go for your website, and you tried and tried to make it work but can’t, contact Regex SEO – we will help you out for sure.

Dmitrii Kustov
Internet Marketing Director at Regex SEO

Write a Comment