SaneChoice Insights

Why SaneChoice stopped over-optimising for website performance

Page Speed Insights Score on a Computer

Website designers and owners are obsessed with fast performance. They will do anything to make pages load fast and hit the much-coveted 100% score in Google Page Insights—hours of tinkering and tweaking to squeeze the last ounce of speed out of the code.

There are good reasons why people obsess over this. The main one is that Google takes website performance into account when ranking. As a result, no one wants to get penalised and slip down the ranking ladder of the world’s most-used search engine. 

However, we took a step back and examined web performance, the obsession it causes, and whether we are in the middle of an arms race. We outline our thinking in this short article. 

What got us thinking about website performance and ranking?

We started to look at some of the major businesses on the internet—the ones with brands everyone knows and naturally assumes are at the top of their optimisation game. Although this is sometimes true (i.e., big businesses have well-designed and fast websites), we found a few that went against the grain and still rank highly on Google. 

Let’s take a look at Apple. No one will argue that they are among the biggest and most well-known brands. They also have a well-designed and beautiful website. However, when you look at their Page Insights score, you see that the desktop score is between the 70 and 86 range and very much amber in colour – even lower on mobile devices. There is no way a company like Apple, which prides itself on design, will choose speed over visuals. So, have they been penalised in search engines? Nope, we can’t find any evidence of penalisation at all. 

When we looked at other websites using our SEO Analyser Tool, we found that a fair proportion of big brands had scores far from 100% in Google Page Insights. That gave us some food for thought about whether a very high Page Insights score was a hard-line contributor to ranking success.

What do we think about this finding?

The big brand web performance research was quite surprising.

Seemingly, not everyone is going for gold in terms of web performance. Instead, they seem to take a balanced approach where ‘just good enough’ is enough—focusing more time on content, visual user experience, and selling their goods. They certainly are not frightened enough of lower performance to do much about it. Apple is no exception, with 3.5 billion monthly search views despite the lower Page Speed Insight score. 

The internet has many paid technologies and caching tools that speed up websites. This niche has blossomed nicely over the years, riding on the coattails of giants like Google, emphasising performance. You have to wonder whether this is the ‘secondary market’ syndrome, where big brands create a narrative that enables businesses to build on. Google Search’s emphasis on performance (part of user experience) will undoubtedly do that, which is precisely what happened. Below, you can see how some popular technologies have grown in demand:

And what about Google Search setting website performance standards? Is it their place to tell the world how their website must perform? Here at SaneChoice Towers, we think that is a somewhat suspect approach for Google to take. 

What have we done for website performance?

Well, we have decided to anger the Google Gods and have stopped focusing on going for gold in terms of performance. Of course, we are not uploading 50GB image files and completely disregarding the visitor experience. We optimise our images (and have even started to convert some larger ones to the AVIF format) and don’t use 50 plugins. But we have stopped wasting hours a month optimising code for performance rather than optimising our overall experience and intent. 

We are proud users of Cloudflare CDN for security and global caching. They do an excellent job of protecting our multiple websites and providing consistent global performance. But we are not using local caching plugs, expensive web servers, or CSS minification or removal tools. We are just going native, being sensible, and focusing on what matters—a website that looks professional enough and enables our customers to navigate easily. Admittedly, our Time-to-First-Byte (TTFB) is a little long, and our Largest Content Paint (LCP) is a little slow. But it all hangs together well, which is (probably) good enough. 

SaneChoice website performance vitals

As mentioned in the section above, we have given up using compression tools and plugins. We tested our website and have published the GTMetrix results below. As you can see, it is a reasonably good score and shows what can be achieved natively when optimising websites.

It’s worth noting that this is a test from Sydney, talking to one of our European servers. Even though there are many miles of cables between the continents, we still achieved a 95% score – without using caching plugins or fancy minimising tools. The technology stack was WordPress, Elementor and Cloudflare. Not bad, eh?


There is a danger that this post sounds a little like a whinge. To be fair, it probably is a little bit when it comes to a large company dictating how we build websites to suit their standards. However, pursuing a speedy website is an arms race you cannot win. It is not even the primary purpose of a website! So, at some point, you have to close your performance tools and start focusing on what matters. 

That being said, you can do a lot with optimisation without using (sometimes expensive) caching plugins or fancy optimisation techniques. Being sensible with your image sizes, using a good WordPress theme and placing your content on a CDN can work wonders.

Regarding website optimisation, you cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

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