How fast does your Web site download?
Google announced that it determines site rankings, in part, by download speed. That was the message back in April, 2010.
“We mentioned site speed as early as last year, and you can watch this video from February where I pointed out that we still put much more weight on factors like relevance, topicality, reputation, value-add, etc. — all the factors that you probably think about all the time,” wrote Google software engineer Matt Cutts in a recent blog.
“Compared to those signals, site speed will carry much less weight,” he added.
Speed saves costs
But another blog, Google’s Webmaster Central Blog, also mentioned site speed: “But faster sites don’t just improve user experience, recent data shows that improving site speed also reduces operating costs,” he explained.
“Like us, our users place a lot of value in speed — that’s why we’ve decided to take site speed into account in our search rankings,” he added.
Personally, I wonder if being fast qualifies as a green initiative.
Google also makes these suggestions:
- Page Speed, an open source Firefox/Firebug add-on that evaluates the performance of web pages and gives suggestions for improvement.
- YSlow, a free tool from Yahoo! that suggests ways to improve website speed.
- WebPagetest shows a waterfall view of your pages’ load performance plus an optimization checklist.
- In Webmaster Tools, Labs > Site Performance shows the speed of your website as experienced by users around the world as in the chart below. We’ve also blogged about site performance.
Mr. Cutts also wrote that Google’s official blog provides even more tools.
“…Google’s webmaster console provides information very close to the information that we’re actually using in our ranking,” he added. “In addition, various free-to-use tools offer things like in-depth analysis of individual pages. Google also provides an entire speed-related mini-site with tons of resources and videos about speeding up websites.”
He also says “big sites” will not get a competitive advantage in the added factor of site speed.
“Often even a little bit of work can make big differences for site speed,” explained Mr. Cutts. “So I think the average smaller web site can really benefit from this change, because a smaller website can often implement the best practices that speed up a site more easily than a larger organization that might move slower or be hindered by bureaucracy.”
In addition to downplaying load speed, he emphasized Internet users would appreciate the fastest-possible user experience.
“…this change highlights that there are very constructive things that can directly improve your website’s user experience,” he concluded.” Instead of wasting time on keyword meta tags, you can focus on some very easy, straightforward, small steps that can really improve how users perceive your site.”
My sense is that site speed does indeed play a vital role in search engine optimization. If you haven’t already, you might want to make certain that your site downloads fast as possible.
From the Coach’s Corner, here are related tips:
Good Blogs Have Nothing to Fear from Google’s Updates — Alarms bells are sounding all over the Internet after Google’s seemingly incessant algorithm updates. The search engine’s changes can be unnerving for bloggers, but there’s no reason to panic. Use patience and tenacity to succeed. On another page, I’ve written about five factors to get peak Google results.
5 Factors to Get Peak Google Results for Your Web Site – Study — What do top Web sites have in common? Successful sites produce a high number of Facebook and Twitter messages, but the sites minimize the volume of ads on its pages according to an authoritative study. Those are the salient lessons from a 2012 study by Searchmetrics, a search and social analytics firm.
Google Speaks Out About Frequency vs. Value — Are you concerned about your Web site’s popularity on Google? Here’s how the search engine differs from users in Web site content value vs. frequency.
“SEO is not synonymous to JUNK E-MAIL.”
– Matt Cutts