5 Ways FAQ Schema Markup Can Amplify Your SEO

FAQ Schema Markup. Ever heard of it?

What if we told you there was this handy, underutilized SEO hack that has the potential to instantly improve your site’s rank, CTR, and dominance over SERP competition. You’d probably be skeptical, and think we were talking about some kind of SEO unicorn.

Well, guess what, SEO unicorns are real. And they’re called “FAQ Schema Markup.”

There’s a good chance you’re looking at us weird right now. A FAQ, really? What is this 1985? FAQs are a second rate page. There’s no value there. They’re just a dumping ground for content that can’t be squeezed in anywhere else, right?

Don’t write off FAQs quite yet. The times they are a-changin’.

When Google got onboard with adding structured data for FAQ, they opened a treasure trove of SEO opportunity.

At face value, there’s not much to FAQ rich snippets. Just a way to display some of the frequently asked questions listed on your FAQ page. But take a closer look at what they actually do, and you’ll see just how powerful they are.

So get with the times. FAQs are where it’s at. Not a believer? Follow along…

The Secret Trick to Improving Performance with FAQ Rich Snippets

There are two places to include FAQ schema markup on your site:

 

  • FAQ pages
  • Pages with a FAQ section

 

It may not seem like it, but there is a big difference between the two.

FAQ pages rarely rank well. More often than not, if a user visits one, it’s because they navigated to it through your site, rather than an organic search result.

This is because search engines are all about content that answers the intent behind a specific search query. FAQ pages, on the other hand, are typically broad in content, not focusing on keywording or answering a single question, but rather trying to hit as many bases as possible in one place. So by nature, they conflict with the type of content Google wants to promote.

While adding FAQ schema for your Frequently Asked Question pages is definitely a good idea, this alone will probably not have a huge, noticeable impact on your SEO.

However, adding FAQ schema to your product and service pages will.

At this stage, we should probably do a quick review of what exactly is FAQ schema markup.

FAQ schema is specialized markup you can add to a webpage’s code that contains a list of questions and answers. Google then reads this markup and uses it to generate a rich snippet.

Like this one:

This rich snippet shows a collapsible list under your typical SERP result. When a question is clicked, the answer is revealed in a dropdown. If your markup contains more than four questions, a “Show more” link will be shown that will reveal all your FAQ markup.

But again, FAQ schema isn’t only for a FAQ page. It will show an expandable list on SERP for any page that is properly structured with a “frequently asked question” section.

This ability is what makes FAQ schema the bee’s knees—the cat’s pajamas. Lit, I believe, is what they’re calling it these days.

To better see why, take a look at the following service page FAQ rich snippet for a surf lesson provider.

Notice how the enhanced snippet directly ties into the page title and meta-description, and better targets the intent behind profitable queries this surf school wants to target. Google loves this.

Why?

Because the overall snippet is more relevant and valuable.

If written strategically, this added SERP content will also open up the likelihood of your snippet appearing for other longtail queries where it might not have previously. For example, “What age is too old to surf,” or “How much do surf lessons cost.”

To figure out where FAQ schema can most help your rankings, we recommend reviewing all your bread and butter pages. These are the ones that directly tie into your sales funnel. Specifically pages that:

 

  • Consistently generate leads and conversions
    -or-
  • Have the potential to help generate more leads and conversions

 

Likely they will be your product and service pages.

After choosing the top pages, see if there are opportunities to add a FAQ section, covering at least three questions directly related to the topic of that page. Then add the corresponding FAQ schema markup. (We’ll show how to do this below.)

Trust us; you’ll be happy with the results.

But don’t take our word for it…

5 Ways FAQ Schema Can Take Your SEO to the Next Level

There are a lot of amazing things you can do with structured data. (As we saw in our rich snippet guide.) However, one of the most valuable often gets overlooked. That’s because it doesn’t provide all the pomp and circumstance of other more flashy rich results.

But what FAQ structured data lacks in sex appeal, it more than makes up for in function.

Read on to see how FAQ schema improves your SEO like a boss.

1.     Provides an Instant Rich Snippet

Everyone and their mother is trying to get a rich snippet these days. They’re the golden goose of SERP. But it’s not always so easy.

Even if you implement all your structured data properly, it can sometimes take months for the fruits of your labor to show.

FAQ rich snippets are one of the easiest and fastest to obtain.

In some instances, some report seeing a FAQ rich snippet appear in under 30 minutes.

Granted, there is no guarantee of immediate results. But Google is super fast at picking up FAQ structured data and adjusting your SERP listing, more so it seems than with other structured data types.

To give them a nudge in the right direction, be sure to “Request Indexing” of your page in Google Search Console after implementation.

 

2.     Lets Your Snippet Absolutely Dominate SERP

What really makes FAQ schema markup so exciting is how much real estate it uses.

Currently, Google shows your first three FAQ results. This alone doubles the amount of vertical space your snippet takes up in search results.

If you want to take up even more room, we’ve seen instances where Google will actually show four FAQ results. The only catch is your markup needs to have precisely four questions.

If your page has more than four FAQ results, the rest will be hidden. But if a user selects “Show More” than the full list appears, pushing all the results below yours way down.

In every one of these scenarios, your page comes out a winner. This is especially key on mobile, where space is limited, to begin with.

So don’t let other results crowd yours. Push them off the screen entirely.

3.     Improves CTR

Looking good on SERPs is great. But looks will only get you so far. At some point, FAQ schema is going to have to justify itself with some cold hard stats.

One case study saw an over 50% increase in their CTR after implementing FAQ schema. That’s enough to make even the most grumpy of actuaries smile.

Since your snippet is both taking up more real estate in SERP and providing your target audience with more useful content, it only stands that there is an increased likelihood of someone clicking your snippet.

As an added bonus, you can also create hyperlinks in your dropdown answer copy, providing more opportunities for users to click through.

Just be sure not to give away the whole shebang in your answers.

For instance, it’s very easy to create rich snippets that are too informative. So much so that users get everything they need from your FAQ schema alone, negating any reason to click your snippet.

If your page is a product or service, also be careful revealing pricing in your FAQ schema. Only discuss costs if they are really strong selling points. If, on the contrary, your prices aren’t lower than your competitors, then they might actually work against you and deter clicks.

That said, when strategically written well, a FAQ rich snippet can pull your target audience in like a tractor beam.

Though you know what’s even better than an improved CTR?

Feast your eyes on this…

4.     Generates Higher Quality Leads

There are two types of leads in this world: leads that convert, and well, leads that don’t convert.

Guess which type you want?

Despite your best efforts, the former will balk and fail to convert. The latter, on the other hand, are primed to convert. They are the ones ready to download or purchase or signup. You just need to show them the way.

FAQ schema helps put the odds of attracting these higher quality leads in your favor.

With the right type of FAQ schema, you can weed out prospects less likely to convert. Through your questions and answers, you can give a sneak preview of what’s to come if they click through. If it is not of interest to them, then they’ll move along.

And that’s a good thing.

Because while clicks are important, they shouldn’t be your primary goal. Converting is. You want visitors that will not just click through, but follow through, and improve your site’s conversion rate. These are your high-quality leads.

High-quality leads are more likely to do this.

Optimizing for these types of leads increases ROI and decreases spend. So, adding FAQ schema markup that appeals to your most profitable leads isn’t just good SEO, it’s also great CRO.

5.     Connects to Voice Search

Last but certainly not least, FAQ schema is poised to help bring your business into the 21st century.

One of the biggest digital marketing trends right now is voice search.

Alexa. Siri. Google Assistant. Your refrigerator. All of these virtual assistant AIs are changing the way we get information and connect.

FAQ schema plays a significant role.

Right now, one of the most common ways for people to interact with their smart speakers is to ask a question. If that question relates directly to your FAQ schema, then the AI’s answer will be whatever you marked up in your structured data.

The possibilities here are pretty cool.

As you can imagine, Google Assistant is leading the way in building voice search actions using FAQ schema. But the other AIs aren’t far behind.

So when coming up with your FAQs, be sure to optimize copy for voice search (or as the kids are calling it these days, VSEO).

How to Add FAQ Schema to Get Rich Snippets

So now that you know why you want to use FAQ schema markup let’s show you how to do it.

It’s actually really easy.

First, create a FAQ page or FAQ section on one of your pages. Write at least three questions, each of which are followed by relevant answers.

After that, if you want to get technical, you can use either JSON-LD or Microdata to create the markup. (Google recommends JSON-LD.)

Here’s a FAQ schema markup template for three questions using JSON-LD:

<script type="application/ld+json">

{

"@context": "https://schema.org",

"@type": "FAQPage",

"mainEntity": [{

"@type": "Question",

"name": "INSERT QUESTION TEXT HERE",

"acceptedAnswer": {

"@type": "Answer",

"text": "INSERT ANSWER TEXT HERE"

}

}, {

"@type": "Question",

"name": "INSERT QUESTION TEXT HERE",

"acceptedAnswer": {

"@type": "Answer",

"text": "INSERT ANSWER TEXT HERE"

}

}, {

"@type": "Question",

"name": "INSERT QUESTION TEXT HERE",

"acceptedAnswer": {

"@type": "Answer",

"text":"INSERT ANSWER TEXT HERE"}

}]

}

</script>


Just replace the capitalized text with your own questions and answers.

Though you don’t actually need to know any of that to create your markup, we recommend the far simpler and easier method of using a free online FAQ schema generator. Two of these include:

 

 

Just copy and paste the questions and answers from your page into these generators. They will then automatically create the script you need to produce a FAQ rich snippet.

Make sure that the copy on your page and code in your script are exactly the same. If they’re disparate by even a comma, then your page won’t be eligible.

Also, be sure to follow Google’s guidelines:

Once you have the script in hand, there are several ways you can implement it onto your page.

  1. Insert the script manually into the header <head> section of the specific page.
  2. Use a WordPress plugin like Insert Headers and Footers to add the code for you.
  3. Use Google Tag Manager to add the code for you.
  4. Add the schema into your WordPress theme’s function.php file.

 

We don’t recommend implementing the last two methods unless you know exactly what you’re doing. The first two are your best bet. (Though if you need help at any stage of implementing FAQ schema markup, get in touch. We’d love to help.)

Once you’ve added you’re FAQ schema, the final step is to test if it’s working. Just copy and paste the URL of your page and run it through either Google’s:

 

 

We prefer the Rich Results tester. It’s a little more user-friendly.

And there you have it!

You’ve successfully added FAQ schema markup to your page, and are ready to dominate search results.

FAQ Schema Wrap Up

Word is going to get out about the benefits of FAQ schema. So don’t wait to implement it into your SEO strategy.

Just be aware, there’s potential here for people to abuse FAQ schema. Foreseeing this, Google has already taken measures to reduce FAQ schema abuse. But you can get ahead of all this by properly implementing it today and standing out with quality FAQ content that your users know they can trust.

Not only will this have the potential to increase online visibility and site traffic, but it can also help improve the authority of your brand.

Best of all, you can implement FAQ schema in a matter of minutes and have it appear in a short time. There aren’t many (whitehat) SEO hacks easier than that.

That’s why all the cool marketers are using it. But pretty soon, everyone else will be too, so much, so the mere mention of FAQ schema markup will cause 16-year olds to roll their eyes and reply, “You’re basic.”

So, stay in the know and use FAQ schema to make your rich snippets DA BOMB.

No, wait. Now we’re dating ourselves again.

How about…

Let’s get this bread!

That’s the one.

How to Drive More Quality Leads with Facebook Advertising

Facebook Advertising is like the social media marketing version of courting. You refine your targeting to prospects that look good, send them your best messaging, maybe a photoshopped pic or two, hope they’re into you, and then try to get them to convert.

Some call it dating. We call it lead generation. Regardless, it’s a digital tango your brand needs to master like a blind Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman.

Both sides know what the other is really looking for. The only challenge is getting them to take the actions you want. All is fair in love and marketing.

So, let’s put the odds of scoring a lead in your favor.

But first, we want to tell you what this post is not.

 

  • It is not a generic guide on how to set up Facebook Ads.
  • It is not an examination of social media advertising best practices.
  • We will not discuss what a lead is.
  • We will not lecture you about the sales funnel.

 

We assume you already know all that.

We’re here because you want to generate more leads, and you want to generate them today, specifically with your Facebook Ads.

But even better than that, you want to generate more quality leads.

Because let’s face it, a lead by itself is worth about as much as a Zimbabwe one hundred trillion dollar bill. Utterly, worthless.

It’s what that lead does that really matters.

Do they aimlessly open your emails, haphazardly add things to their cart, and otherwise hang around your site all day doing nothing, like a teenager playing Fortnite in their parent’s basement? Or do they provide value?

The former is what we like to call a “lead mooch.” The latter is a quality lead. Guess which one you want to score a date with?

A quality lead converts. They buy your products, subscribe to your services, download your apps, and help you make money, which is why quality leads are also known as Sales Qualified Leads (SQL).

If your lead gen funnel is lacking, don’t despair. You can start driving more qualified customers to your site with a few simple tactics and new approaches. Tactics that are extremely effective, but not always so obvious.

After all, the best customers always play hard to get at first. But that just makes converting them all the more gratifying.

1.     Give Away Something High-Quality for Free

Freebie marketing is one of the most powerful marketing strategies in your toolbox, and one of the best ways to generate leads.

Even science backs us up here. Neurological studies show that receiving discounts and freebies make people happier, less stressed, and healthier, causing a 38% increase in oxytocin levels, a 5% decrease in heart rate, and a 32% drop in respiration rate. So not only are you benefiting your business, but you’re practically saving lives with your lead magnets.

Now, we’re sure you played around with lead magnets before, so this recommendation probably isn’t all that mind-blowing thus far.

But remember, the whole point of your free offer is to encourage the purchase of another, higher-value product.

Anyone can get a donkey to follow a carrot. Dangle something free in front of someone, and there’s a good chance they’ll bite. Why else would a grown man wait in line to get half a chicken nugget at Costco?

So generating leads from freebies isn’t the tough part. Making sure they’re sales qualified is. That’s why you want to offer a high-quality lead magnet.

A high-quality lead magnet specifically targets — you guessed it —  quality leads. They are distinguished from less awesome, regular humdrum lead magnets by several key factors.

 

  • Promoting your brand
  • Not being sales-y
  • Being tailored to your ideal customer persona (ICP)
  • Targeting a pain point of your ICP that directly ties into your main products
  • Actually solving that pain point
  • Being something not easily found anywhere else

 

If your freebie checks off each of those items, then it is a high-quality lead magnet.

The last three are particularly important because they focus on providing value, positioning your brand as an expert, and building trust — all essential components required for generating quality leads.

A run-of-the-mill video isn’t a good lead magnet. You can find a thousand of those on YouTube. A how-to guide, listicle, or checklist isn’t all that unique either. We provide this type of content all over our blog, and you don’t have to give us your email to read them.

No, what you’re looking for is something irresistibly unique that is well worth someone giving their information to obtain. You don’t want it to be a fluff piece. The freebie’s value prop should be specific and directly related to your paid products and services.

Types of high-quality lead magnets include:

 

  • Webinars
  • Templates
  • Swipe Files
  • Workbooks
  • eBooks
  • Toolkits

 

Here’s a great example of a high-quality lead magnet offering a webinar:

Melyssa’s Facebook ad hits all the right spots.

Facebook Ads like this one are ideal for offering freebies. More so than Google Ads. That’s because there’s a lot more space to create content for your audience to connect with, and you can leverage photos and videos to enhance engagement.

After all, seeing a smile can go a long way.

You know what else goes a long way?

Free food.

Offering something truly awesome for free can pique the interest of the right kind of leads for your business, and preview just how great you are at solving their pain points. Or hunger pains.

2.     Build Higher Converting Audiences

Your online ads live and die by the audiences they target. So if you want to attract more quality leads with Facebook Ads, make sure you’re flaunting to the right audience.

This means making sure what you’re offering aligns with what they want.

What this doesn’t mean is trying to trick people into liking you.

Pro Tip: Don’t lie with your dating profile or audience building. You’ll just end up disappointed. The people you end up meeting won’t be a quality match for you. All they’ll really want is a free meal or copywriting template.

Digital marketing, especially on Facebook, isn’t about tricking or influencing people with fluffed up claims. It’s about providing value that matches their personas and existing behaviors.

And it all starts with targeting the right audience.

In trying to reach a new purchase-ready audience, look at what’s worked for you in the past. More specifically, this involves:

 

  • Targeting new high-quality leads based on your most engaged users
  • Targeting new high-quality leads based on your top converting users
  • Targeting new high-quality leads based on your existing high-quality leads

 

We’re guessing you’re familiar with lookalike audiences.

Just in case you’re not, a lookalike audience is a type of audience you can generate on Facebook from your existing customers (i.e., “custom audiences”). They are comprised of the most similar Facebook users to your existing audience, based on actions, demographics, interests, and a slew of other intel.

One pitfall many fall into is creating a lookalike for everything under the sun. This gets very confusing and spreads your targeting strategy too thin. Instead, you want to create a select few high-quality lookalike audiences to build campaigns around and A/B test.

To do this, you need first to have the Facebook pixel installed on your site. Once that’s in place, create a custom audience for each of the ones we listed above.

For your most engaged users, create a custom audience based on website traffic.

From there you’ll want to access two options:

 

  • People Who Have Visited a Specific Web Page
  • Visitors by Time Spent

To create an audience around your most engaged users, select “visitors by time spent” and set it to the top 25%.

Then add the page URL you want to target.

The pages you use here will be the most important pages in your sales funnel. They include product and service pages, cart pages, and any others directly tied your macro conversions. The further down the funnel, the better.

If you have a high volume of traffic, we recommend testing an even more granular custom audience by selecting the “+ And Also” link. This tracks multiple pages and allows you to include other key pages in your lead generation, like a contact page.

Now you’ve created a custom audience for those who have demonstrated a high level of purchase intent on your site.

Next, set up a custom audience for your top converting users.

The process is very similar to the one we just did, except instead of filtering your audience according to “Visitors By Time Spent,” you will select “People Who Have Visited a Specific Web Pages.”

Add the thank you page URL or whatever screen appears after a conversion is executed. Ideally, you would have a different screen for each type of conversion so you can better differentiate.

There are a lot of combinations here to refine, including using event tracking if you’ve previously set it up.

With that, you’ve created a custom audience for your top converters.

For the final group, let’s create a custom audience based on your existing high-quality leads.

For this, choose to create your audience using a customer file.

Upload a contact list filtered according to your top leads, either because they’ve been deemed sales qualified or because they followed through and converted. Upload this list and map the identifiers you want to use for your custom audience.

And with that, you will have created three high-quality custom audiences. The final step is to create then a lookalike audience based on each one of these as you normally would.

For customer lists, you can also create a value-based lookalike. Some call this the “bread and butter” of Facebook Ad targeting. They’re not wrong.

The entire purpose of this feature is to help you do exactly what we’ve been discussing.

To implement this mode of targeting, you will need to know the lifetime value (LTV) of each of your contacts and indicate it by creating a “value” column in your spreadsheets.

Then when you upload your CSV customer list, select the “customer value” identifier to tell Facebook how much your current customers are worth. It will then, in turn, prioritize finding people similar to your most valuable customers.

Lead generation doesn’t get much more quality than that.

What all this boils down to is being very selective when building your audience. Your ROI will thank you.

3.     Target Intersecting Interests

Facebook’s interest-based targeting is what sets it apart from all other online ad platforms.

Just like with audiences, Facebook ads can get incredibly specific with the interests they allow you to target.

You can appear solely to people who don’t have kids, or parents with kids aged 8-11, if that’s your thing. You can target people who’ve recently gotten out of a relationship or have a specific income level. You can even target people by the type of car they drive, or want to drive.

The possibilities are endless.

Which is exactly why it’s so important to be strategic when choosing interests to target, and not just throw a bunch into your ad targeting with hopes you get lucky.

This is doubly important, given the fact that there is so much competing for your audience’s attention on Facebook.

That’s where targeting intersecting interests comes in.

This very effective targeting technique catches people’s attention because it seeks to appeal to people from several different angles.

Here’s the basic setup:

  1. Select “Detailed Targeting” under Audiences while setting up your Ad Group.
  2. Add an initial interest to target.
  3. Select “Narrow Audience” and add a second interest.
  4. Select “Narrow Further” and add a third interest.

In the example below, we’re targeting the people who like cars (interest #1), sports (interest #2), and pizza (interest #3).

The key is only to include one interest per audience box. Adding them to the same box expands your audience. This method narrows your audience to where these interests intersect.

Below is a visual of what’s going on here.

Think back to the Venn diagrams we used to create in elementary school. The center where your audience interests overlap is where your quality leads reside.

Please note that to get the most out of targeting, you should choose interests that aren’t too closely related to one another.

Once you have your audience set up, there’s one final important step.

To truly be effective, and draw in those quality leads with Facebook Advertising, the interests you select for targeting need also to be brilliantly reflected in your messaging and images. In other words, design your ad and lead magnet around the intersection.

Let’s look at an example of this in action.

This Dr. Pepper ad targets an intersection of interests for their target market. An audience comprised of:

  • Interest #1: College students
  • Interest #2: Soda Drinkers (or more specifically, Dr. Pepper)
  • Interest #3: Sports Fans (or more specifically, football)

 

You could also say this ad targets potential college students interested in paying their college tuition. So that’s 3-4 right there, perfectly reflected in the ad copy and imagery.

Why is this type of targeting so effective?

One word: Personalization.

If you can make your audience feel like an ad was made just for them, then they’re more likely to pay attention, click, and convert.

So figure out where that intersection lies for your best leads and set your audience targeting accordingly.

Conclusion: Create a High-Quality Facebook Ad Experience

There are a lot of things you can do to get the most out of your Facebook Ads. All of these can positively impact your lead generation.

For one, there’s Facebook Lead Ads. Writing captivating ad copy with a strong offer, CTA, and sense of urgency is another. Strategically designed images can obviously go a long way as well. As too can having a well-optimized landing page.

If you’ve made it this far, you probably know all that already. But it’s still worth repeating.

Because you’d be surprised how many spend all their time trying to create the world’s most perfect Facebook ad and then barely give their landing page any attention. Or worse, skip a landing page altogether and have their ads point to their homepage. Not cool.

For example, if you are a restaurant looking for new customers, your chances of sealing the deal are far better if you take them to a place where the food is well-prepared and the desert so appetizing they can’t resist.

After all, who wouldn’t want to engage with a Michelin star landing page?

But we digress.

The point is, in order to generate not just any lead, but high-quality leads, you need to pay attention to every aspect of the Facebook Ad experience. So, amplify these tried and true best practices using the strategies we discussed above to ensure you are finding the best prospects and connecting with them in the right ways.

Rest assured, if you play your cards right, you and your quality leads will live happily ever after. If you need help with Facebook Advertising, contact us today!

 

How to Decipher Your PageSpeed Insights Report…The Right Way.

Google PageSpeed Insights. We’re guessing you’ve heard it. You’ve probably used it. You might have even spent a lot of time trying to score 100 on it. And yet there’s a good chance you still haven’t gotten the results you’re looking for.

We feel you. The struggle is real.

But we’re going to let you in on a little secret: Scoring 100 on Google PageSpeed Insights doesn’t really matter.

We’ll explain why in a moment.

But first, regather your blown mind and go ahead and analyze your site’s performance on Google PageSpeed Insights.

Take your time.

We’ll wait.

Together we’re going to dissect those PageSpeed Insights Report results to show you what they really mean and how you can use them to improve your business.

Notice, we said business, not website.

That’s an important distinction to make. Not making this distinction is where most go wrong with Google PageSpeed Insights.

In fact, a lot of people use PageSpeed Insights wrong.

Or at least, they don’t use it as best they could.

But no reason why you should be one of them!

Stop Chasing After 100 Scores on PageSpeed Insights

No matter how many blogs, marketing professionals, fortune cookies, horoscopes, SEO experts, or Ouija boards tell you otherwise, don’t waste your time chasing after a perfect score on PageSpeed Insights.

Really, when has chasing perfection not resulted in a massive letdown?

Only once that we know of.

And that was when Pizza Hut created the hot dog-stuffed crust pizza.

Good luck topping that.

Besides, optimizing for a 100 performance score is not in the best interest of your business.

While seeing a nice big 100 feels pretty awesome, it doesn’t automatically mean your online presence is well optimized to grow your business. It just means your website works nicely in Google’s opinion.

But you’re not here to impress Google (at least not 100% of the time). You’re here to grow your brand, revenue, and profit.

Riddle us this, why have it there at all if it doesn’t serve a purpose?

Well, for one, we relate more easily to a single rating, rather than multiple results. As proven by RottenTomatoes. (Sorry, it’s certified fresh or bust for us.)

Ask yourself, what’s more thrilling:

 

  • Seeing the number “100” in a big, green icon
    – or –
  • Seeing that your largest contentful paint is 1 second

 

The second one may be more important, but the first is green. GREEN!

But don’t be fooled by fancy colorful one-and-done ratings. They’re not always reliable. As proven by RottenTomatoes.

(Taken: 58%. The Notebook: 53%. Bad Boys II: 23%. Hook: 28% HOOK!? Bad form!)

Google PageSpeed Insights’ performance score is what we like to call a “vanity metric.” It looks good. It feels good. It’s easy to grasp. But ultimately, it doesn’t do you any favors. It’s basically the Krispy Kreme donut of performance metrics.

Far more useful are all the other less-exciting, slightly-confusing metrics that PageSpeed Insights throws at you, and most people ignore. These are the ones that will help you make sound business decisions.

Don’t get us wrong, scoring 100 on PageSpeed Insights is really good. If you can get there, you may be in a position to rank higher on Google. But at what cost?

The last thing you want is to spend a lot of resources trying to get a higher score that could have been better spent on other more valuable aspects of your business, like product development, advertising, content creation, or watching Ozark.

So here at Titan Growth, we always make the recommendation to our clients that they focus on improving the most important aspects of their PageSpeed Insight report, which does not include an ambiguous grade.

Point being, it’s very easy to get caught up chasing a perfect score on PageSpeed insights while forgetting the bigger picture.

Find the Right Performance Results for Your Business

All that said, we still get asked a lot:

What is the best Google PageSpeed Insight score for my site?

If you have your sights set on getting the best grade possible, find that perfect balance between improving performance and improving your business.

That balance usually lies right above your competitors.

When it comes to SEO, you’re not looking to win the Internet. Just beat your competitors. So if your webpages can outperform those of your competitors in SERP, you’re in a good place.

One of the great things about Google PageSpeed Insights is that anyone can use it for any site. So instead of chasing after a 100 Insight score, the following will far likely better serve your business:

 

  1. Identify your high traffic pages
  2. Analyze those webpages in PageSpeed Insights
  3. Analyze your competitor’s similar webpages
  4. Tally and compare the scores
  5. Optimize your webpage to have a higher score than your competitors

 

There’s a good chance you won’t need a 100 to outperform your competitors.

Whatever that number is that places you above them, that’s most likely what the ideal performance score is for your site.

But again, this is only if you absolutely feel the need to get a good grade. A far better strategy would be to focus on improving the more important metrics found within a Google PageSpeed Insights report.

Cue…

How to Read a PageSpeed Insights Report

Who doesn’t love reading reports?

Answer: Pretty much everyone.

Merely uttering the word is enough to turn the stomach and conjure images of having to sheepishly hand over our middle school report cards. Who knew F- was even a thing?

But don’t worry, reading a Google PageSpeed Insights report doesn’t have to be terrifying, humiliating, or boring.

Ok, well, they’re still pretty boring. It is a report after all.

But it can be less boring. Especially since if you read this report correctly, it can greatly benefit your business.

So let’s decipher these digital hieroglyphics, together, one section at a time.

Performance Score

This is the big number that appears at the top of the report. You know, the one we just said you can totally ignore.

This score is determined by analyzing Lab Data (see below) and subjectively attributing a number score to the results. Google considers a score of 90 or above good. Anything from 50 to 90 needs improvement (even Google’s developer site could use a little work by their own standards). Anything below 50 is considered poor, or as we know it better as: an F-.

Field Data

Field Data is an aggregate collected from actual users who load and interact with your page. These metrics have been collected by Google  over the past 30 days, and are averaged into a single total for four different categories:

 

  • First Contentful Paint (FCP) – Measures how long it takes for the first content (like text or an image) to appear on screen.
  • First Input Delay (FID) – Measures the time between when a user first interacts with a page (like clicking a link or tapping a button) to when the browser responds to that interaction.
  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – Measures how long it takes the largest content element (like an image, video, or text block) to appear.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) – Measures a page’s stability, and whether there are any visible page element changes position (or shift) at any time.

The multi-colored bar that appears beneath breaks down how the final tally was reached, and what percentage of page loads within the past 30 days were either good (green), not so good (orange), or poor (red).

The tallies for these categories are far more important than that generic performance score at the top of the report. Ideally, your page should have the following for each:

 

  • First Contentful Paint of 1 second or less
  • First Input Delay of 100 milliseconds or less
  • Largest Contentful Paint of 5 seconds or less
  • Cumulative Layout Shift of 1 or less

 

If it does, then what are you still doing here? You should be out on the town partying it up like an SEO rockstar. If it doesn’t, keep on reading, we’ve got some work to do.

The latter three metrics comprise what is known as your Core Web Vitals. Google lets you know plain and simple whether your page experience is up to snuff by listing whether it “passes” or “does not pass” its Core Web Vital test.

What does it mean if your page doesn’t pass?

Well, you probably shouldn’t show this report to your parents for one.

Core Web Vitals are the ranking signals Google users to determine page experience, which is kinda big thing. So big, in fact, we wrote an entire guide on everything you need to know about page experience and Core Web Vitals. That guide also shows how to optimize for Web Vitals. So if your numbers are less than ideal, be sure to check it out.

Origin Summary

You probably ignore this section every time. Don’t. It’s a great reference.

When you enter a URL into Google PageSpeed Insights, the results pertain only to that unique page. To get sitewide performance data, you need to look at the Origin Summary.

Check the “Show Origin Summary” box to view the average loading speeds across your entire site. You can then compare these results to the Field Data of a specific page to see if that page performs better or worse than your site as a whole.

Use this to benchmark pages, and prioritize which need the most help while using your site’s best-optimized pages as a reference for pages that need better optimizing.

Lab Data

Lab Data are metrics taken from a simulation of how your page loads on a single device under a fixed set of conditions. Think of it as the control group of testing your page.

Lab Data consists of:

 

  • First Contentful Paint (FCP)
  • Time to Interactive (TTI) – Measures how long it takes for a page to become fully interactive. An ideal result is 8 seconds or less.
  • Speed Index – Measures how quickly the content of a page appears. An ideal result is 3 seconds or less.
  • Total Blocking Time (TBT) – The total amount of time a page is blocked from responding to user input, such as mouse clicks, screen taps, or keyboard presses. An ideal result is 300 milliseconds or less.
  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

 

You’ll notice that some of those categories are shared between Field Data and Lab Data, but most likely show different results on your report.

The Difference Between Lab and Field Data, and Why You Should Care

In a nutshell, Field Data is collected from users. Lab Data is generated by a Google algorithm.

But the more-telling difference is found with two factors:

 

  • Perceived Performance – How fast a user thinks your website is
  • Actual Performance – How fast your technical stats say it is

 

Field Data focuses on conveying perceived performance, while Lab Data more closely aligns with actual performance. Which means if you were to only care about one of these, you would want Field Data. That’s because when it comes to SEO and optimizing your webpages, it’s what the user thinks that really matters, not the technical wizardry going on behind the scenes.

That comes straight from the horse’s mouth. According to Google, Field Data is more reliable and “probably a better indicator for how real users are experiencing your website than lab data.

But don’t totally ignore Lab Data.

Actually, it’s impossible to ignore it on the PageSpeed Insight report because the Performance Score at the top, and Audit sections below, are based solely on Lab Data.

Knowing this is really helpful in deciphering which performance metrics Google prioritizes when ranking sites. Google might not be an open book on the 200+ ranking signals it uses, but it is transparent about how they weight Performance Score.

Check out this nifty scoring calculator to see how each component impacts the overall score.

Remember, Performance Score is Google’s arbitrary opinion of your page’s speed. And since Google dictates who ranks where in their search engine, based on that table above, they care a lot more about Total Blocking Time and Largest Contentful Paint, than say Cumulative Layout Shift. So don’t spend all your time fixing wonky content shifts over improving your pages’ response time.

Taking this one step further, when prioritizing your SEO workflow, we recommend:

 

  1. First, optimize your site for the Field Data (going from highest weighted to lowest)
  2. Then, optimize your site for the Lab Data (going from highest weighted to lowest)

One final note: Since your page and that of a competitor likely get completely different visitors, there are too many variables to accurately say which performs better by looking just at Field Data. However, Lab Data tests both pages in the same exact environment and presents a more accurate comparison between the two.

So we recommend using Lab Data (over Field Data) when performing competitor analysis.

Alrighty then. Now that we know all there is to know about the data in our report, let’s see how to improve it.

The Best Ways to Address Google’s Performance Audits

When running a Google PageSpeed Insights test, most people:

  1. Look at their Performance Score, and get either really happy or sad
  2. Scroll right past the Field Data and Lab Data as fast as they can
  3. Dive headfirst into fixing everything spit out in the Audit sections

Because who doesn’t love being audited?

Answer: Pretty much everyone.

We do, however, like being given solutions. So, the audit section gets all the glory while the data sections get ignored, just like the kid nobody wants on their kickball team.

The three sections that comprise the PageSpeed Insight audit are:

Opportunities – Provides suggestions on how to improve page load time. The tallies next to each are an estimate of how much that issue is impacting your overall page load.

Diagnostics – Assesses specific aspects of page performance, with recommendations for optimization.

Passed Audits – Indicates the audits that have been passed by a page.

First and foremost, don’t break your back trying to fix every single item listed in the Opportunities section. You’ll likely drive yourself mad trying to shave off milliseconds.

Instead, use these suggestions as a guide to see what areas you should focus on.

For instance, if you see any issues related to images under “Opportunities,” rest assured it’s because you’re not optimizing your images as best you should. But don’t worry about figuring out how to “efficiently encode images” or “service images in next-gen formats.” All you should care about is optimizing your images using best practices before uploading them to your site (and avoid using widgets like those that display your Instagram feed).

Nine times out of ten, that will suffice for resolving image issues.

(For those confused about “next-gen formats”: Google has decided on behalf of the Internet that JPEG, PNG, and SVG images are no longer good enough. So, they push the use of more modern, higher-compressed versions that very few people have ever heard of. However, next-gen formats aren’t supported by every browser and are complicated to convert to. Making this is a perfect example of why chasing after a Google-recommended solution is not always the best course of action.)

With that in mind, we recommend referring to the following tutorials to improve load time (and your page’s actual performance):

 

As well as the following to improve page experience (and your page’s perceived performance):

The reason we recommend heading straight to those tutorials, rather than explaining what each line item in the audit means, is because, at the end of the day, Google PageSpeed Insights is not the end-all-be-all of your SEO strategy.

It is a report. A mere snapshot of your page performance.

If we focus solely on implementing the report’s recommendations instead of zeroing in on what the data is telling us, we miss the point.

Conclusion: PageSpeed Insights Is About Your Business, Not Google Rank.

As hard as it is to believe, Google is not the authority on webpage performance. Nor are they the authority on your customers. PageSpeed Insights is a testament to that. The scores are subjective, and the audit recommendations are based on Google’s own preferences.

Google PageSpeed Insights is, however, a great reference. It is a tool, a means to an end, that can help you determine how to optimize your webpages to create the best experience possible.

There is a reason why it’s not called Google Engine Optimization. (Although some days, it can feel like it!)

SEO is about more than just appearing higher in a Google search result. It’s about optimizing your online presence to best engage your brand’s target audience.

So use the data in your Google PageSpeed Insights report to help you do just that.