Running Lighthouse Reports on the Command Line

Source: Unsplash

Page Speeed has always been important and getting more and more urgent for SEO and Webmasters in general.
There are two big reasons why you must have a look after page speed.

First Reason
The case study by SOASTA highlights the importance of site speed in retaining and converting more visitors. While every site’s mileage is different, it is a general rule that speed matters, especially on mobile.

In SOASTA’s case, pages that were just one second faster experienced a 27% conversion rate increase. In addition, pages that were just two seconds faster doubled their conversion rate. At about 5.7 seconds, conversion rates began to flatten out.

Source: developer.akamai.com

Second Reason
Since the 9th of July 2018 page speed is a ranking factor for Goolge mobile searches.

Preformance Testing

There are many different ways for doing performance testing. Free tools include WebPageTest.org, Pingdom and many tools.
The most popular performance tool is Google Lighthouse.

Google Lighthouse is a free web developer tool, designed to test the website speed and other issues. The tool simulate the circumstances of a “real-world” 3G data network for page speed testing. Most people use it as a Chrome browser extension. It is possible to make a Lighthouse audit test against any web page or web app, covered in these categories:

  • Performance
  • Accessibility
  • Best Practices
  • SEO
  • Progressive Web App

One negative point with Lighthouse is that it can take a while to run, and you only can check one page atthe same time.

For improving this, it is possible to run Lighthouse via a command line interface. As a result it is running in the background and you can see much more details, check multiple URLs, you can customiz your reports and safe lots of time.

Preparation for running Lighthouse from the command line

For running Google Lighthouse from the command line you only need 3 things:

  • Google Chrome
    Make sure you have the newest version of Chrome installed.
  • Node JS
    Install Node.js LTS for Windows or Mac. The download includes also the NPM bundled. NPM is a package manager for JavaScript applications and allows installing Lighthouse for example.
  • Lighthouse
    The final step is to install Google Lighthouse by Node.js.

Please note the following tutorial is made for Windows users but also for Mac users is it possible to run Lighthouse from the command line.

Install Lighthouse by Node.js

Open the Windows command prompt .

Now the command prompt is open and you can install Lighthouse with the command below:

That’s the whole magic of it. Now you can use Lighthouse from the command line. In the following chapter you’ll learn how to use Lighthouse from the command line and how to save time.

For uninstall Lighthouse use the command below:

First Lighthouse Audit from command line

First we start with a simple Lighthouse report to get into it.
For to run a basic report, enter the following command:

After you pressed enter the chrome browser will pop up and starts with the report.
At the same time the command prompt will start listing what lighthouse is currently testing. When the report is done you’ll see a link to where the report has been saved. The Report is automatically saved as HTML.
Furthermore the listing gives much more detailed insight into the website.

Advanced: Customizing Google Lighthouse Report

The first report was made only by basic default settings but you can do much more with Google Lighthouse.
The chapter ll gives you an overview about what is possible with Google Lighthouse when you run it from the command line.

Fo finding more features Google Lighthouse has a help function. It shows you a list of all available configuration options.
To see the list insert the following command into the command prompt:

Underneath you’ll find the most useful options.


Please note that generally the flags don’t need to be in a specific order.


Output

You can choose between three different formats
* HTML (default)
* JSON
* CSV

You can see in the picture below how the different report formats looks like:

Output path and name

Save your customized report to a specific folder and rename it.

Headless, quiet and view

When you request a report, the Chrome browser will open, and the command line log each part of the process.
If you don’t want the Chrome browser pop-up you can use the following command:

If you want the report to run silently you can use the following command:

If you want to know your report has finshed you can add the following command:

With the “view” flag metion, your report opens in a chrome window once after it has finished running.

Categories

It is also possible to choose which categories you want to report on.
Following categories are possible:

  • Performance
  • Accessibility
  • Best Practices
  • SEO
  • PWA

Multiple Website-Reports with Google Lighthouse

So let’s save time and do reports for multiple websites with running batches of Lighthouse Reports on the command line.

For the following steps create a folder for your Lighthouse Reports. After placing the two files below:

  • Text file with URLs
    Create a text file with multiple URLs as shown below:
  • Batch file
    Create a batch-file with your favourite text editor. Paste the following code into it:

Please note that you can place as much flags as you want into the code. All flags, which you can see in the “lighthouse help” are working also with the batch file.

Save the file as “.bat”. Now you should have a text and a batch file in your folder.

Run the script

Go back to the command prompt and navigate to the folder where the two files were saved.

All you should need to do now is running the command below:

After all reports were generated, the command line return the directory you are in and all reports are placed in the folder where you want.

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Christopher Giezendanner

Written by

SEO by Dept Agency | Tekki | Love with Data | Speaking with Python (s) | Drone-Lover

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