You may be wondering why you’re not getting 80 or 90 out of 100 for your page speed performance. You might be seeing a score more like 20 and think “Why is this so low? Is this the theme? Apps? My content? This sounds bad – I don’t want my customers to turn away and I don’t want to be penalised in search rankings.”
Below, we’ll run through how this speed score is calculated, what it should be, what its effects are, and how to improve it.
How is page speed score calculated?
Shopify uses Google’s ‘Lighthouse’ test suite, using the ‘Mobile’ profile.
Google have a page that explains how to run this yourself: https://developers.google.com/web/tools/lighthouse/
Shopify runs the same report but averages it out over a period of time to get a more accurate score.
When this runs on a Shopify site (using our Symmetry theme’s Duke demo store as an example), it gives you a report like this:
What should my site be scoring?
Our demo store score is red! It’s under 50! Should we be panicking?
No! At Clean Canvas, we’re very happy with this. Here are some further examples using other sites you may be familiar with:
Amazon – 26
mvmt.com – 17
gymshark – 6
apple.com – 32
Google’s own Lighthouse documentation page – 11 !!
Conclusion – There is clearly no correlation between success and this page speed score.
That’s really the bottom line. Unless it’s actually taking 5-10 seconds to show something on a real computer – you’re fine.
We will, however, continue to explain why it is very unlikely you can have a high score on Shopify, just in case you fancy reading a bit more about this.
There are some things on the store that are necessary to how it runs, which lowers this score. Examples of these would be things Shopify load in so payment buttons work and you can monitor customer sessions and behaviour. If we cut these useful elements out, the score goes up to this:
But these cannot be cut out – you need them for your store to work! A simple blog doesn’t need this, but an online shop does. You should be very comfortable with any score of around 20 or above if it feels OK on a real device.
It’s worth noting that (with Shopify’s tracking put back in) the total page download here was 332kb, and is interactive in 511ms on a 7 year old ‘test’ desktop computer, with a pretty average internet connection (which cuts out during video chats). This is really good and well above recommended/average results for a website.
We don’t want to boast (too much), but check this same Duke demo store home page out when we run it in the ‘Desktop’ profile:
That’s great! That’s a speed on par with google.com – one of the fastest pages on the web. There’s no real room for improvement here.
If you want to know what to aim for, try running it on a demo store for your theme. You’ll see what a store without modifications will give you. We also put a lot of content on demo store home pages to show off what the themes can do, including lots of detailed images, often with videos and maps, and usually include Shopify’s reviews app, all of these will lower the score a little.
You should be able to get a score that is similar to our demo stores, with the right content and without a lot of apps.
What effect will my speed score have on search rankings?
Here’s a useful video from Google about SEO that mentions page speed:
In summary, it doesn’t have a strong effect on rankings. Google may penalise super-slow stores a little bit, but the content is factored in way more than speed ever will, and if you’re above a certain “this site is so slow it’s unusable” threshold additional tweaks will not have an effect.
How can I improve my page speed score?
The first thing to do is just load up your store on a real device. Does it feel fast? Many stores with low scores feel pretty fast, even on a phone with WiFi disabled. Remember, page speed scores are artificial, and not an actual indication of how fast things load on a real device. If it feels good and doesn’t feel noticeably slower than your competitors, then there are probably better things to spend your time on than increasing this page speed score.
Use apps sparingly
Here’s a good evidence-based assessment of how apps bring a score down: https://speedboostr.com/how-apps-affect-load-speed/
If you have no coding customisations applied to your theme and only a few apps that you absolutely need, yet your score still seems a little low, then here are some further options:
Are you running many apps? Have you installed any apps you don’t use? Do you have apps installed that you could live without? Then cut them out. Apps can have a huge impact on page speed scores. After the theme loads a page, apps then fire up, sometimes also loading in scripts too. Some of these apps use servers hosted outside of Shopify and then you are reliant on those servers to not be slow, which then will add on some more loading to the site. As theme developers, we have no control over this. Try to only use the apps you really need, and those which have a positive impact on your sales.
To get an idea of how apps impact page speed, check out the guide below:
Less is more (homepage content)
How long does it take for you to scroll from top to bottom on your homepage? If you are hoping for faster load speeds, it’s best to not overburden the homepage too much or perhaps adopt the homepage content to be seasonal and fit the time of year and swap out content instead of stacking it. Consistently fresh homepage content will help draw your customers in.
Images and videos are great ways to show off the site, but they do take time to load in. So if you’d like to try and up your speed score, consider reducing some of the content sections. Put less on the page – for example, include fewer product rows on the home page – these take time to render and serve to customers.
Use JPGs for product images
We suggest you should use JPGs unless the image covers more than half the page. JPGs will look great and are generally smaller in file size than other formats which will lead to superior loading times.
Use PNGs for slideshow images
For slideshows that cover most of the page and other image sections that display large images, you should use PNGs.
PNG files are good because they don’t get compressed, so look amazing, but are larger files than JPGs.
Shopify does compress images but we find it’s always good to do this yourself before uploading to Shopify, as you can greatly reduce file sizes and these compressed images will load faster. Here is a website we use to compress our PNGs and JPGs before uploading to the platform.
Disable dynamic checkout buttons
Users have found that disabling these has been known to help improve site speed. These buttons are pulling in information which the theme has no control over but can add some loading to the theme. If you don’t feel that you get many customers purchasing through these links you could consider disabling them to increase the speed. To disable, head to product page inside the admin > open up buy button click > uncheck “Show dynamic checkout button”
Use the most up-to-date theme version available
For any themes you may have installed that are older than 2019, we recommend you update these, as since 2019, Shopify have released many features to improve loading times. Also, with all new theme versions, we tend to make improvements by eliminating unwanted code to further speed up the site. To see if your theme has a more recent version available, you can head over to its ‘Changelog’ link, which also lists details on how to go about updating your theme.
We hope this helps clarify a few things about page speed. Limit your apps, use jpg, and don’t be too worried if it seems low – if it’s in double figures you’re probably OK!