Categories: Performance

How to test your Site with Google Lighthouse?

A new tool by Google is to test and give you the recommendation to improve performance, SEO, security, best practices, and accessibility.

Google recently launched Lighthouse, an open-source tool to audit your website manually and automatically.

What metrics are tested by Google Lighthouse?

There are more than 75 metrics it tests and gives you overall scoring. Some of the following popular one you might be interested in as a site owner, SEO analyst, webmasters.

  • Performance – time to interactive, latency, speed index, resources optimization, TTFB, asset delivery, scripts execution time, DOM size, etc.
  • SEO – Mobile friendly, meta, crawling, canonical, structure, etc.
  • Best Practices – Image optimization, JS libraries, browser error logging, accessible over HTTPS, known JS vulnerabilities, etc
  • Accessibility  – Page elements, language, ARIA attributes, etc.
  • PWA (Progressive Web Application) – redirect HTTP to HTTPS, response code ok, fast loading on 3G, splash screen, viewport, etc.

Its fantastic tool and you can use in multiple ways.

That’s right – so many ways. If you are a developer, you can use it with Node.js to run a test programmatically. There are already few tools in the market powered by Lighthouse who offer continuous site performance monitoring.

Let’s find out how you run lighthouse test against your site.

Start from the easiest one.

Measure by

Google released a few months back and gained good popularity. Testing online is easy.

Go to Measure page and enter the URL to run the audit. It will take a few seconds, and you should see the detailed reporting with the overall scoring.

Results also show the success metrics test so well done for the passed audits and work on those needs attention.

Don’t spend too much time getting 100. Even Google’s sites don’t score that.

Consider them as guidelines and try to improve as much you can.

Note: emulate a test using a Mobile device, and while writing, I don’t see an option to test using Desktop.


Do you know Lighthouse is available in your Chrome browser? And, the great news is, you can choose to test using Mobile or Desktop. It’s available in Developer tools.

  • Open Chrome browser
  • Access your site to test
  • Open Developer tools (Press F12 if using Windows) or right click on the page and click Inspect
  • Go to audits tab

As you can see above, you have an option to choose what you want to test. This is great as you can focus on your goal and get the audit results faster.

Results look and feel from Chome and is almost similar.

But if you look at carefully, there is one extra metrics group here – Progressive Web App. So another reason to audit using Chrome.


Lighthouse is available as a Node module. You can get it installed on your server and use it programmatically or command line. Let’s quickly check out how to install Lighthouse to run some test.

Installing Lighthouse on Ubuntu 18.x

The following, I’ve tested on DigitalOcean server. Lighthouse requires Node LTS 8.9 or later and I assume you already have it installed. If not, refer to this Node.js installation guide.

You will also require chromium browser to be installed on the server. I covered the installation instruction here.

Installing Lighthouse is straightforward, as you do other modules.

  • Login to your server
  • Run the following command to install
npm install -g lighthouse

I am using -g here so it get installed as global module.

root@geekflarelab:~# npm install -g lighthouse
/usr/bin/lighthouse -> /usr/lib/node_modules/lighthouse/lighthouse-cli/index.js
/usr/bin/chrome-debug -> /usr/lib/node_modules/lighthouse/lighthouse-core/scripts/manual-chrome-launcher.js

> axe-core@3.1.2 postinstall /usr/lib/node_modules/lighthouse/node_modules/axe-core
> node build/utils/postinstall.js

+ lighthouse@4.0.0
added 179 packages from 119 contributors in 10.094s

Once installed, run lighthouse command to ensure it has installed correctly.

root@geekflarelab:~# lighthouse
Please provide a url

Specify --help for available options

Good, lighthouse is ready to run the audit. Let’s try some test options.

To run a test using a headless browser

lighthouse URL --chrome-flags="--headless"

You need to provide an absolute URL including http or https.


chandan@geekflarelab:~$ lighthouse --chrome-flags="--headless"
  ChromeLauncher Waiting for browser. +0ms
  ChromeLauncher Waiting for browser... +1ms
  ChromeLauncher Waiting for browser..... +511ms
  ChromeLauncher Waiting for browser.....✓ +2ms
  status Connecting to browser +176ms
  status Resetting state with # +24ms
  status Benchmarking machine +30ms
  status Initializing… +508ms
  status Loading page & waiting for onload Scripts, CSSUsage, Viewport, ViewportDimensions, ThemeColor, Manifest, RuntimeExceptions, ChromeConsoleMessages, ImageUsage, Accessibility, LinkElements, AnchorsWithNoRelNoopener, AppCacheManifest, Doctype, DOMStats, JSLibraries, OptimizedImages, PasswordInputsWithPreventedPaste, ResponseCompression, TagsBlockingFirstPaint, MetaDescription, FontSize, CrawlableLinks, MetaRobots, Hreflang, EmbeddedContent, Canonical, RobotsTxt +27ms
  status Retrieving in-page: Scripts +2s
  status Retrieving in-page: CSSUsage +0ms
  status Retrieving in-page: Viewport +0ms
  status Retrieving in-page: ViewportDimensions +0ms
  status Retrieving in-page: ThemeColor +0ms
  status Retrieving in-page: Manifest +0ms
  status Retrieving in-page: RuntimeExceptions +0ms
  status Retrieving in-page: ChromeConsoleMessages +0ms
  status Retrieving in-page: ImageUsage +0ms
  status Retrieving in-page: Accessibility +0ms
  status Retrieving in-page: LinkElements +0ms
  status Retrieving in-page: AnchorsWithNoRelNoopener +1ms
  status Retrieving in-page: AppCacheManifest +0ms
  status Retrieving in-page: Doctype +0ms
  status Retrieving in-page: DOMStats +0ms
  status Retrieving in-page: JSLibraries +0ms
  status Retrieving in-page: OptimizedImages +0ms
  status Retrieving in-page: PasswordInputsWithPreventedPaste +0ms
  status Retrieving in-page: ResponseCompression +0ms
  status Retrieving in-page: TagsBlockingFirstPaint +0ms
  status Retrieving in-page: MetaDescription +0ms
  status Retrieving in-page: FontSize +0ms
  status Retrieving in-page: CrawlableLinks +0ms
  status Retrieving in-page: MetaRobots +0ms
  status Retrieving in-page: Hreflang +0ms
  status Retrieving in-page: EmbeddedContent +0ms
  status Retrieving in-page: Canonical +0ms
  status Retrieving in-page: RobotsTxt +0ms
  status Retrieving trace +1ms
  status Retrieving devtoolsLog & network records +110ms
  status Retrieving: Scripts +27ms
  status Retrieving: CSSUsage +53ms
  status Retrieving: Viewport +192ms
  status Retrieving: ViewportDimensions +5ms
  status Retrieving: ThemeColor +13ms
  status Retrieving: Manifest +2ms
  status Retrieving: RuntimeExceptions +295ms
  status Retrieving: ChromeConsoleMessages +1ms
  status Retrieving: ImageUsage +2ms
  status Retrieving: Accessibility +22ms
  status Retrieving: LinkElements +526ms
  status Retrieving: AnchorsWithNoRelNoopener +10ms
  status Retrieving: AppCacheManifest +6ms
  status Retrieving: Doctype +20ms
  status Retrieving: DOMStats +4ms
  status Retrieving: JSLibraries +50ms
  status Retrieving: OptimizedImages +25ms
  status Retrieving: PasswordInputsWithPreventedPaste +234ms
  status Retrieving: ResponseCompression +3ms
  status Retrieving: TagsBlockingFirstPaint +7ms
  status Retrieving: MetaDescription +6ms
  status Retrieving: FontSize +7ms
  status Retrieving: CrawlableLinks +245ms
  status Retrieving: MetaRobots +6ms
  status Retrieving: Hreflang +2ms
  status Retrieving: EmbeddedContent +2ms
  status Retrieving: Canonical +3ms
  status Retrieving: RobotsTxt +6ms
  status Resetting state with # +19ms
  status Loading page & waiting for onload ServiceWorker, Offline, StartUrl +24ms
  status Retrieving in-page: ServiceWorker +59ms
  status Retrieving in-page: Offline +0ms
  status Retrieving in-page: StartUrl +1ms
  status Retrieving devtoolsLog & network records +0ms
  status Retrieving: ServiceWorker +2ms
  status Retrieving: Offline +1ms
  status Retrieving: StartUrl +1ms
  status Resetting state with # +5ms
  status Loading page & waiting for onload HTTPRedirect, HTMLWithoutJavaScript +48ms
  status Retrieving in-page: HTTPRedirect +260ms
  status Retrieving in-page: HTMLWithoutJavaScript +0ms
  status Retrieving devtoolsLog & network records +0ms
  status Retrieving: HTTPRedirect +7ms
  status Retrieving: HTMLWithoutJavaScript +12ms
  status Disconnecting from browser... +7ms
  status Analyzing and running audits... +6ms
  status Evaluating: Uses HTTPS +3ms
  status Evaluating: Redirects HTTP traffic to HTTPS +24ms
  status Evaluating: Registers a service worker that controls page and start_url +1ms
  status Evaluating: Current page responds with a 200 when offline +0ms
  status Evaluating: Has a `<meta name="viewport">` tag with `width` or `initial-scale` +1ms
  status Evaluating: Contains some content when JavaScript is not available +1ms
  status Evaluating: First Contentful Paint +6ms
  status Evaluating: First Meaningful Paint +54ms
  status Evaluating: Page load is fast enough on mobile networks +10ms
  status Evaluating: Speed Index +33ms
  status Evaluating: Screenshot Thumbnails +529ms
  status Evaluating: Final Screenshot +287ms
  status Evaluating: Estimated Input Latency +2ms
  status Evaluating: No browser errors logged to the console +16ms
  status Evaluating: Server response times are low (TTFB) +1ms
  status Evaluating: First CPU Idle +1ms
  status Evaluating: Time to Interactive +30ms
  status Evaluating: User Timing marks and measures +0ms
  status Evaluating: Minimize Critical Requests Depth +2ms
  status Evaluating: Avoid multiple page redirects +3ms
  status Evaluating: Web app manifest meets the installability requirements +2ms
  status Evaluating: Configured for a custom splash screen +1ms
  status Evaluating: Sets an address-bar theme color +0ms
  status Evaluating: Content is sized correctly for the viewport +1ms
  status Evaluating: Displays images with correct aspect ratio +0ms
  status Evaluating: Avoids deprecated APIs +1ms
  status Evaluating: Minimizes main-thread work +0ms
  status Evaluating: JavaScript execution time +11ms
  status Evaluating: Preload key requests +3ms
  status Evaluating: Preconnect to required origins +2ms
  status Evaluating: All text remains visible during webfont loads +2ms
  status Evaluating: Network Requests +1ms
  status Evaluating: Metrics +2ms
  status Evaluating: start_url responds with a 200 when offline +1ms
  status Evaluating: Site works cross-browser +1ms
  status Evaluating: Page transitions don't feel like they block on the network +0ms
  status Evaluating: Each page has a URL +0ms
  status Evaluating: `[aria-*]` attributes match their roles +1ms
  status Evaluating: `[role]`s have all required `[aria-*]` attributes +1ms
  status Evaluating: Elements with `[role]` that require specific children `[role]`s, are present +0ms
  status Evaluating: `[role]`s are contained by their required parent element +1ms
  status Evaluating: `[role]` values are valid +1ms
  status Evaluating: `[aria-*]` attributes have valid values +0ms
  status Evaluating: `[aria-*]` attributes are valid and not misspelled +1ms
  status Evaluating: `<audio>` elements contain a `<track>` element with `[kind="captions"]` +1ms
  status Evaluating: Buttons have an accessible name +1ms
  status Evaluating: The page contains a heading, skip link, or landmark region +1ms
  status Evaluating: Background and foreground colors have a sufficient contrast ratio +1ms
  status Evaluating: `<dl>`'s contain only properly-ordered `<dt>` and `<dd>` groups, `<script>` or `<template>` elements. +1ms
  status Evaluating: Definition list items are wrapped in `<dl>` elements +0ms
  status Evaluating: Document has a `<title>` element +1ms
  status Evaluating: `[id]` attributes on the page are unique +1ms
  status Evaluating: `<frame>` or `<iframe>` elements have a title +1ms
  status Evaluating: `<html>` element has a `[lang]` attribute +0ms
  status Evaluating: `<html>` element has a valid value for its `[lang]` attribute +1ms
  status Evaluating: Image elements have `[alt]` attributes +1ms
  status Evaluating: `<input type="image">` elements have `[alt]` text +1ms
  status Evaluating: Form elements have associated labels +0ms
  status Evaluating: Presentational `<table>` elements avoid using `<th>`, `<caption>` or the `[summary]` attribute. +1ms
  status Evaluating: Links have a discernible name +1ms
  status Evaluating: Lists contain only `<li>` elements and script supporting elements (`<script>` and `<template>`). +1ms
  status Evaluating: List items (`<li>`) are contained within `<ul>` or `<ol>` parent elements +1ms
  status Evaluating: The document does not use `<meta http-equiv="refresh">` +0ms
  status Evaluating: `[user-scalable="no"]` is not used in the `<meta name="viewport">` element and the `[maximum-scale]` attribute is not less than 5. +1ms
  status Evaluating: `<object>` elements have `[alt]` text +1ms
  status Evaluating: No element has a `[tabindex]` value greater than 0 +1ms
  status Evaluating: Cells in a `<table>` element that use the `[headers]` attribute only refer to other cells of that same table. +1ms
  status Evaluating: `<th>` elements and elements with `[role="columnheader"/"rowheader"]` have data cells they describe. +0ms
  status Evaluating: `[lang]` attributes have a valid value +1ms
  status Evaluating: `<video>` elements contain a `<track>` element with `[kind="captions"]` +1ms
  status Evaluating: `<video>` elements contain a `<track>` element with `[kind="description"]` +1ms
  status Evaluating: `[accesskey]` values are unique +1ms
  status Evaluating: Custom controls have associated labels +0ms
  status Evaluating: Custom controls have ARIA roles +1ms
  status Evaluating: User focus is not accidentally trapped in a region +0ms
  status Evaluating: Interactive controls are keyboard focusable +0ms
  status Evaluating: Headings don't skip levels +0ms
  status Evaluating: Interactive elements indicate their purpose and state +1ms
  status Evaluating: The page has a logical tab order +0ms
  status Evaluating: The user's focus is directed to new content added to the page +1ms
  status Evaluating: Offscreen content is hidden from assistive technology +0ms
  status Evaluating: HTML5 landmark elements are used to improve navigation +0ms
  status Evaluating: Visual order on the page follows DOM order +0ms
  status Evaluating: Uses efficient cache policy on static assets +1ms
  status Evaluating: Avoids enormous network payloads +3ms
  status Evaluating: Defer offscreen images +1ms
  status Evaluating: Eliminate render-blocking resources +12ms
  status Evaluating: Minify CSS +28ms
  status Evaluating: Minify JavaScript +64ms
  status Evaluating: Defer unused CSS +69ms
  status Evaluating: Serve images in next-gen formats +12ms
  status Evaluating: Efficiently encode images +11ms
  status Evaluating: Enable text compression +6ms
  status Evaluating: Properly size images +6ms
  status Evaluating: Use video formats for animated content +7ms
  status Evaluating: Avoids Application Cache +11ms
  status Evaluating: Page has the HTML doctype +0ms
  status Evaluating: Avoids an excessive DOM size +1ms
  status Evaluating: Links to cross-origin destinations are safe +2ms
  status Evaluating: Avoids requesting the geolocation permission on page load +1ms
  status Evaluating: Avoids `document.write()` +0ms
  status Evaluating: Avoids front-end JavaScript libraries with known security vulnerabilities +0ms
  status Evaluating: Detected JavaScript libraries +9ms
  status Evaluating: Avoids requesting the notification permission on page load +1ms
  status Evaluating: Allows users to paste into password fields +0ms
  status Evaluating: Uses HTTP/2 for its own resources +0ms
  status Evaluating: Uses passive listeners to improve scrolling performance +1ms
  status Evaluating: Document has a meta description +0ms
  status Evaluating: Page has successful HTTP status code +1ms
  status Evaluating: Document uses legible font sizes +5ms
  status Evaluating: Links have descriptive text +1ms
  status Evaluating: Page isn’t blocked from indexing +1ms
  status Evaluating: robots.txt is valid +2ms
  status Evaluating: Document has a valid `hreflang` +1ms
  status Evaluating: Document avoids plugins +1ms
  status Evaluating: Document has a valid `rel=canonical` +0ms
  status Evaluating: Page is mobile friendly +1ms
  status Evaluating: Structured data is valid +0ms
  status Generating results... +0ms
  ChromeLauncher Killing Chrome instance 7098 +59ms
  Printer html output written to /home/chandan/ +46ms
  CLI Protip: Run lighthouse with `--view` to immediately open the HTML report in your browser +1ms

In the second last line, you can see it has printed the path where I can find the report. By default, it will generate a report in HTML format which you can view either by downloading on your PC or serve it through some web server.

But, what if you have to generate a report in JSON format?

It’s doable as the following.

lighthouse URL --chrome-flags="--headless" --output json --output-path URL.json

By using Lighthouse CLI, you are in full control to use the way you want it. I would strongly recommend to check out the GitHub repository to learn more about using CLI or programmatically.


Google Lighthouse looks promising tool to perform a continuity test to improve site performance and usability. If you are using WordPress and looking to make your site loads faster then check out Rocket.

Published by
Chandan Kumar

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