Google says a slow site could hurt your search rankings

Pick up the pace

Pick up the pace

The time it takes for your website to load used to be considered just a usability consideration…at worst a nuisance if it loaded slowly. But Google, recognizing that all else being equal users prefer faster sites to slower ones, is saying speed is now a search ranking consideration as well. In Google’s attempt to deliver “better” (not just “relevant”) search results to its users, the latest tweak to its search engine will be placing more value on the speed of the websites being ranked. If you’re concerned about search engine rankings, you should be concerned about your website speed, too.

Major changes to Google’s search engine architecture are in the works, as part of the project called Google Caffeine. Google’s own Matt Cutts stated in an interview that speed is being paid more attention as Google constantly refines the algorithm it uses to determine which websites to display at the top of its search results.

So does this mean your slow site is going to be relegated to the bottom of the search results just because it’s slow? No, Google uses hundreds of factors to determine search rank. But a fast site may well rank better than a slow version of that site (the difference between that #1 spot and the #5 spot, for example).

SEO is a game of inches, so it makes sense to consider anything Google says impacts search rankings. Now you can add page speed to that list of considerations.

WebPageTest.org Speed Reports

WebPageTest.org Speed Reports

Test your speed

You may need to engage a web developer to fix any page speed issues your website has, but these these tools can help identify them:

  • WebPageTest.org is a free service that will not only test the load time of your site, but also tell you what parts of a page took the longest to load.
  • Page Speed is a plug-in for the Firefox web browser (note that Page Speed also requires the Firebug plug-in).
  • Google has also published a bunch of other tools to help web developers test and improve page load time of websites

 

image credit: pellaea

Comments

  • So true, this is one of the hardest problems to track! I’ve seen a site go from #1 to #5 and could NOT figure out what happened for the longest time. Then I noticed that a script had doubled page speed load times.

    Frustrating!

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