Google PageSpeed Case Study – Affiliate Reviews Site Scores go 90+ Green

Core web vital optimizations for WordPress and WooCommerce are in bloom to prepare for the May 2021 Google algorithm update.

This Google PageSpeed performance optimization case study is for a review website that monetizes with affiliate partnerships and advertisements.

This reviews site does in-depth comparisons of popular services and products to help you find out which one is right for you.

They rely completely on organic traffic from Google searches. If they disappear from Google’s page 1 search results, revenue disappears.

We calculated that they would lose at least $5-10k USD per month if their rankings dropped because of poor core web vitals.

An easy decision to get optimizing right away!

They have multiple page types so we had to make sure we optimized all 4 revenue-generating page types, not just the homepage!

Around May 2021, Google will officially start using Core Web Vitals as the tiebreaker for your affiliate website running WordPress.

If your affiliate site enjoys most of its organic traffic from Google search results, you should make sure your core web vitals are healthy!

It will be sink or swim in 2021 for those sites relying on Google’s traffic for their visitors and income.

The good news is, you just have to be better than your competitors!

Google PageSpeed Case Study for Reviews Site

The interwebs are filled with reviews sites. People do not want to waste their time on useless products or services.

Competition is high in the reviews site niche, any edge you can gain over your competitors could mean a huge increase in revenue.

We get users every day who have tested optimization services like this one and are happy with the results but some users want to be in the upper echelon of website speed in their niche.

In our experience improving PageSpeed scores, affiliate sites should be willing to make the following changes to get good core web vitals:

  • Hosting changes and/or upgrades
  • Site redesigns for specific templates
  • Infrastructure overhauls
  • Theme refactoring or replacements
  • Plugin audits and custom development to reduce bloat from commercial plugins
  • Database tuning—in the right places—can reduce TTFB which research shows is critical for Google rankings
  • Advanced frontend optimizations not currently available in any public WordPress plugins
  • Site-dependent changes unique to your site which no plugin can do no matter how hard it tries!

This case study was made possible from a fantastic client on our favorite expert WordPress platform.

In this case study we take a popular reviews site and increase the score by over 50 points!

The optimization process for this site spanned roughly 3 weeks full-time for our team to complete.

Results Before Optimizations

In this section, you can find the Google PageSpeed scores before we began our in-depth optimization process.

The site owner had been through quite a performance journey but couldn’t get the results he wanted.

  • WP Rocket and other caching plugins had been tested but failed to get the WordPress site into 90+ scores.
  • Tested multiple “light themes” promising performance boosts made no difference
  • 3 hosting platforms were tested

These optimization efforts did not help the site escape the red zone on Google PageSpeed.

We promised this client a fully tailored approach to optimization.

No shortcuts, no fairy dust or magic wands – instead thorough investigation, action planning and implementation to cover all of the performance bases.

Homepage Before Optimizations

The homepage scored a respectable 57 despite using a lean custom WordPress theme developed by a prestigious agency.

First Contentful Paint is 2.7 seconds.

Total Blocking Time is 1.4 seconds.

Time to interactive is 7.9 seconds.

Largest Contentful Paint is 3.4 seconds.

Review Roundup Page Before Optimizations

Their roundup pages which rank very well in Google scored a 39 which is not terrible despite its categorization by Google as “Poor”.

First Contentful Paint is 2.7 seconds.

Total Blocking Time is 3 seconds.

Time to interactive is 11.2 seconds.

Largest Contentful Paint is 4.7 seconds.

Individual Comparison Review Page Before Optimizations

The next page type is their in-depth review pages where they compare similar products or services.

They scored one point away from orange scores 49 which is still considered “Poor” by Google.

The cumulative layout shift is 0.07, even though Google considers this “good” we do not accept CLS values above 0, even if it is .001!

Layout shifts contribute to a poor user experience so they should be eliminated completely.

First Contentful Paint is 3 seconds.

Total Blocking Time is 4.9 seconds.

Time to interactive is 11.2 seconds.

Largest Contentful Paint is 3.4 seconds.

Category Page Before Optimizations

First Contentful Paint is 3.0 seconds.

Total Blocking Time is 3.29 seconds.

Time to interactive is 10 seconds.

Largest Contentful Paint is 4.5 seconds.

Optimizations Completed

Working with a custom WordPress theme allows us to use some very cool techniques.

  • Tailored configuration of our in-house plugins
    • We even added new features to these to accommodate some Ad Networks
    • Currently only available for VIP clients only through here
  • Customized theme refactoring of their custom WordPress theme
  • Theme asset optimizations to remove bloat
  • Font optimizations
  • No caching plugins used 😉
  • Image optimization

After Optimizations for Google PageSpeed

Homepage After Optimizations

After these optimizations, the homepage scored a 90 which is a 33 point improvement!

All of the critical visual render time metrics improved like

  • First Contentful Paint down to 1.7 seconds
  • Speed Index down to 2.4 seconds
  • Time to Interactive now 3.4 seconds
  • Total Blocking Time 80 milliseconds

We even made the homepage PageSpeed score higher all the way to 94!

Review Roundup Page Before Optimizations

The review roundup page score up to 98 from 39 – nearly 60 points!

First Contentful Paint is 1.1 seconds.

Total Blocking Time is 40 milliseconds.

Time to interactive is 3.3 seconds.

Largest Contentful Paint is 2.0 seconds.

Individual Comparison Review Page After Optimizations

For their really long individual comparison pages, the score increased up to 93 from 49.

First Contentful Paint is 1.8 seconds.

Total Blocking Time is 90 milliseconds.

Time to interactive is 3.6 seconds.

Largest Contentful Paint is 3.0 seconds.

Category Page After Optimizations

The category page score flipped itelf around, going from 49 to a 94.

First Contentful Paint is 2.0 seconds.

Total Blocking Time is 50 milliseconds.

Time to interactive is 3.4 seconds.

Largest Contentful Paint is 2.9 seconds.

Do you Want Green Google PageSpeed Scores for your Affiliate or Review Site?

Have you exhausted all of your possibilities for ‘low hanging fruit’ to improve your Google PageSpeed scores on your affiliate-driven site?

Are you ready to stop reading blog posts about increasing your site speed?

Can you accept the shortcuts and no low-hanging fruit aren’t going to help you?

Are you concerned how Google’s new core web vitals PageSpeed algorithm will affect your store’s SEO rankings?

If you follow your SEO rankings, you probably know that Google’s algorithm updates can devastate your traffic numbers. We hope this doesn’t happen to you in 2021. To be on the safe side please get assistance from qualified professionals – even if it is not us!

Reach out for a Google PageSpeed audit to see how we can get your store into Google’s green zone!

Work with Pros!