Fluctuations in PageSpeed performance score

You may observe a certain time when the PageSpeed score is low, and a few minutes later it is again shining. This problem can occur mostly on the home page of the website, but the underlying cause can be on other pages of the website too. There are a few reasons why this may happen -.

Before checking the performance score

Before checking the performance score, please ensure that the optimized version of the page exists and is being served to visitors. This can be easily verified in any browser as explained in the low score troubleshooting guide.

Expected Variation

PageSpeed Insights score can vary ±5 during multiple analyses of the same page.

Lighthouse performance scores tend to change due to the inherent variability in web and network technologies, even if there hasn’t been a change to the page.


Content changes

When a content change is detected on any page, the cached data for the modified page is cleaned. Since, a particular post or page can be referenced on the home page in many dynamic ways, such as title, summary, thumbnail, or pagination, the home page is purged too. This is done to prevent showing stale content on the home page. The downside is, that when any page is modified, the homepage is also purged.

After a purge, the optimized copy of the page is built again and there could be a very small time gap. If during this gap, performance is evaluated, it results in a low score as, during this time, the original version of the HTML page is served while the page is being optimized in the background. This strategy can be changed from the plugin’s Settings tab.

Turning on the Instant Content Change option.

Under the plugin settings tab, the site owner can choose to either –

  1. Wipe out the current cache and optimize the pages again. This is useful for sites where content freshness matters over speed performance. Keep the checkbox on as shown in the above screenshot.
  2. Keep the current cache but start replacing them gradually with fresh content. This is useful for websites where performance matters more than content freshness. Keep the checkbox off as shown in the above screenshot.

Plugin updates

The same holds true in case any plugin gets auto-updated or manually which can change the page’s layout or has any CSS changes.

CSS Cache buster

Many websites have cache buster patterns in CSS which reduces the optimization effects. This can lead to fluctuations in PageSpeed since once a page is optimized with the current set of stylesheets, and it changes a moment later, it invalidates critical CSS generated for the page, and also cached stylesheets.