If you have a website, you should be running regular audits on it to ensure that it’s performing the way you want it to. Audits can help flag everything from duplicate content to changes in position ranking to errors that are keeping your site from being crawlable, so they’re essential to helping you optimize your site for more traffic and more conversions.
Some auditing tools are expensive or intimidating, but they don’t have to be. Google Lighthouse is a free auditing tool that’s available for anyone to use, and in this post, we’ll show you how to use it to optimize your site in every way.
What Is Google’s Lighthouse?
Google’s lighthouse is a free, open-source, automated tool that can be used on any webpage online, whether you own it or not. It will run audits on the pages of your choosing, including audits for accessibility, site performance, and more.
Lighthouse is available through the Chrome DevTools, and in addition to flagging potential problems for you, it will also make a suggestion for how to fix it, or at least explain what needs fixing.
What You Can Learn from Google Lighthouse Audits
Google Lighthouse can tell you a lot about your site, including the following:
- How long it takes for the first image or content to appear on a user’s screen.
- If your site’s robots.txt file is properly formed and crawlable
- When users are first able to interact with your page
- Your site’s speed index
The report is broken down into several different sections:
- Performance, which shows you the basics of your site’s performance as it’s standing now. This report really focuses on site loading speed more than any other factor.
- Opportunities, which presents opportunities that can help you speed up your site and improve performance. These opportunities are incredibly specific, like enabling text compression.
- Diagnostics, which flags specific problems on your site that need to be addressed, like having file sizes that are too large and potentially slowing down loading times. They’ll let you know exactly what the problem is, how it’s impacting your site, and why it needs to be fixed.
- Progressive Web App, which gives you a detailed audit of your web app and can ensure that your mobile app is reliably engaging and functional for your audience. This is valuable; many auditing tools don’t offer this.
- Accessibility, which shows you ways you can make your site more accessible and easy-to-navigate or use. This should not be ignored, as UX design is essential to a site’s effectiveness.
- Best Practices, which go over the best ways to reliably optimize your site, including HTML implementation and image presentation.
- SEO, which takes a close look at how your site can perform in search engines and different factors affecting your ranking potential. They’ll look at gauges of content quality, crawlability, mobile-friendliness, and more, and help you identify new ways to maximize your visibility in the search engines.
All of these reports are specific and actionable; they’re giving you specific issues or opportunities to address, with tactical advice. This makes them wildly valuable.
Lighthouse just recently launched version 3.0. It has faster audits, with less wait times, and some updated metrics. If you don’t have it yet, make sure you’re using the most recent version.
How to Run Lighthouse Audits
Google Lighthouse can be accessed from the Chrome DevTools. (Note that you do need to be using the Chrome browser to access this).
To do this, simply head to the URL that you want to audit, landing on their homepage. Once you do this, right click on the page, and click “Inspect.”
Next, scroll along the top dashboard of the pop up until you see “Audits.” Select it, and then choose what it is that you want to audit. You can run the audit from a mobile or desktop perspective, and you can choose which audits you want to run. I typically recommend running all audits at once; it may have a bit of wait time, but it gives you a fuller and more comprehensive look at your site performance.
In just a few minutes or less, you’ll be able to see all the detailed reports that you’ve requested. You’ll be given a single overall metric for each section on a scale from 1-100, rating your performance in each area, and each section will also come complete with details about why you got the score you did and how you can change it.
The detailed reports are exceptional. In the diagnostics section, for example, you’ll see the name of an issue, have it flagged as something that needs to be fixed, receive information about how severe the issue is, and then get specific, actionable advice about how to fix it. Even if you aren’t sure how to do the technical stuff yourself, this report can be handed over to an expert so they can take care of that for you and resolve any issues or obstacles you’re facing.
Google Lighthouse audits are free, easy to use (once you get used to the system), and contain undeniably detailed and accurate reports. Whether you’re super techy and familiar with coding or you’re not even sure how to start a new post with WordPress, these audits will give you incredible insight into exactly how your site is performing in terms of site speed and functionality, why, and what you can do to improve it further.
Do you know exactly where your site stands in terms of performance, functionality, and user experience, or wondering how you can make some improvements? We can help. Get in touch with us and learn how we can help you optimize your site to its fullest potential.
What do you think? Have you ever used Google’s Lighthouse auditing tool for your sites? If not, which auditing tools do you use to optimize your site for SEO and functionality? Have you ever seen an impact from this? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments below!