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Shedding Light on SEO with Google Lighthouse
Have you ever wondered how Google sees your website, or how search engines rank your website when displaying search results? Odds are that you have, and now it is possible to answer these questions thanks to Google Lighthouse - the latest SEO auditing tool made available by Google.
In short, Google Lighthouse takes a look at a myriad of factors that affect how your website loads and performs, all the while following best practices - all elements that are considered by Google’s search engine result ranking. In this article, we will delve into these factors and how you can use Google Lighthouse to improve your WordPress or Joomla! website’s SEO.
Installing Google Lighthouse
There are three ways how you can run Google Lighthouse, depending on your needs. The simplest way is to enter Google Chrome’s DevTools and navigate to the Audits tab. From here, you can simply perform the audit right in your browser.
The second alternative is to automate your audits by following Google’s instructions and installing Google Lighthouse as a command line tool. The final option is far simpler, albeit not recommended - installing Google Lighthouse as a Chrome extension from the webstore. And that’s it, really - you are all set and can start auditing your website.
Google Lighthouse can evaluate your webpages on any or all of four different criteria - the Progressive Web App, Performance, Accessibility, and Best Practices. All of these factors are subsequently collated in an overall score for your website. Moreover, the evaluation is accompanied by suggestions on how to improve your SEO ranking.
Google Lighthouse’s Evaluation Factors
Progressive Web App
The first list of criteria for your SEO are the Progressive Web App factors - a checklist dreamt up by Google itself that helps you create “reliable, fast and engaging” webpages. Thus, some of the common checks by Lighthouse include whether you are serving your website over HTTPS, and your viewport settings.
As the name suggests, the service also sizes up the website as a web app. To this end, it checks how fast the webpage loads on a frail 3G connection, and how it interacts with the typical mobile environment. All in all, important considerations, keeping in mind that many users will likely access your website from mobile devices.
The next set of criteria includes some of the most intuitive factors that influence SEO. Site speed is one of the most important considerations for users, and thus Google has taken to using performance as one of the metrics to rank websites. This is also reflected in Google Lighthouse - among other things, the Performance segment considers how long it takes for the first elements to appear, and how long it takes for the first interactive parts of the webpage to show up.
Google Lighthouse also measures how well you are using lazy loading, something we recently discussed in the context of Joomla! Seeing as media is one of the most cumbersome elements of a webpage, Google’s service also measures how well you are optimizing images, and other multimodal bits making up your website.
The best websites are accessible to as many users as possible, and Google knows this. To this end, the third set of metrics measures a website’s accessibility, and its usability by assistive technologies.
Naturally, Google Lighthouse mostly focuses on your webpage’s descriptive elements in this section. This comprises, for example, images’ alt tags, the structure and language. Beyond these factors, Google Lighthouse also evaluates the elements’ names, attributes and other considerations that make them descriptive.
The last category holds your website to the highest and most modern standards. This is achieved by measuring your website’s ability to comply with the latest technologies and guidelines. These checklists include many miscellaneous evaluations.
For instance, Google Lighthouse ensures that you are delivering content over a secure connection using HTTPS. It also delves into your code, ensuring that you are avoiding deprecated toolkits and code.
It is impossible to go into every single facet of the service’s offering, but in this article we took a look at the most important evaluations. Google Lighthouse is brimming with helpful tips to improve your SEO standing, and the only way to exploit that is to dive in and experiment for yourself.
If you have ever wanted to look at your website through Google’s lens, now is the perfect time. Thanks to Google Lighthouse, it is now possible to go beyond user-friendly websites, and into the uncharted seas of Google-friendly websites.