How To Crush Google’s Performance Measurement Score With Your WordPress Site

WordPress Website Performance for GoogleGoogle recently released a beta page performance measuring tool which is built on top of Lighthouse. The tool scores website pages on four factors:

  1. Performance
  2. Accessibility
  3. Best Practices
  4. SEO

This post will focus on Performance, as this area often represents a page’s lowest relative score. We’ll also focus on WordPress.

To begin with, here’s the Performance score for the home page of a randomly chosen WordPress site that’s running the popular DIVI theme.

Google WebDev Measure Low Performance

When someone clicks on one of your website pages or blog posts in the search engine results, the page should pop. In other words, the page should “load” quickly into a would-be visitor’s browser tab so that the content is visible as soon as possible. Same thing if the visitor navigates within your website.

According to Google, “Fast page loads result in higher user engagement, more pageviews, and improved conversion.”


Does Google explicitly reward websites for fast page load times? Possibly. However, rewards may be more of an indirect result based on visitor behavior.

With the performance measuring tool, website performance should be analyzed at an individual page level. You might decide, “It’s okay for my home page to load more slowly than my text-edited blog posts because the home page simply needs to be more image-rich.”

Pages created with builders such as WPBakery, Beaver Builder and Divi Builder tend to have lower performance scores than pages and posts authored in the WordPress native editor.

WordPress Page & Post Performance Tips

Here’s what you can do to crush Google’s new Performance measurement:

1. Use as few plugins and widgets as possible that load additional information onto pages or posts. Load time offenders include plugins and widgets for:

  • Comments
  • Social media sharing
  • Chat
  • Top/Popular posts
  • Recent posts

2. If you want to list popular posts in the sidebar or footer, consider using a text widget and manually adding anchors that link to your top posts.

3. Test the effect of disabling your social sharing plugin. A social sharing plugin that shall not be named loses us 20 out of 100 points when it’s active.

We recently added a basic, lightweight social sharing plugin called Scriptless Social Sharing.

4. Use a fast WordPress host such as WPEngine or Kinsta.

5. Test out Autoptimize, which is a plugin that has the opposite effect of plugins that slow down page load times. This plugin makes page load time faster. A lot faster.

It’s possible that there will be a setting or two in Autoptimize that conflicts with your WordPress theme. So, make sure to test and disable certain settings if needed. Also, check out the excellent documentation.

6. Use a fast theme such as GeneratePress. We just replaced this site’s previous theme with GeneratePress.

GeneratePress and Autoptimize are a solid combination.

A representative blog post that was authored with the WordPress text editor, initially scored 98 for Performance. It has dropped a few points since. After publishing and grading the post you’re reading, we’re seeing mid-nineties.

Google WebDev Measure Blog Post

Our homepage, which is based on the Gutenberg block editor, also scores 98 for performance.

A couple more:

7. Compress all images with TinyPNG or ShortPixel before uploading to WordPress.

ShortPixel also has a paid WordPress plugin for retroactively compressing all of a site’s existing images.

8. An embedded YouTube video knocks about 30 points off a page’s Performance score. A plugin called WP YouTube Lyte will remedy this. This plugin is from the publisher of Autoptimize.

You’ll need to create a project in the Google Developer’s console, add an API credential, and then preferably restrict the application to your web host’s IP address.

Wrap up

It’s easy to test the performance effect of changes to your website. For example, you can temporarily disable a plugin, clear your website’s cache and then click the blue Run Audit button in the performance measuring tool again. From there, decide if the degree of performance gain is worth giving up that piece of functionality. Rinse and repeat.

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