Monday, April 12, 2010

Your Site Speed to Affect Its Google Rank

Google LogoIf you've been paying attention to the world of SEO and the intersection with Google, then you may have heard a few months back that Google was considering using the speed of a site to affect a site's rankings. Google has already factored in the speed of a site when considering its AdWords quality score.

On Friday, Google announced that it is now implementing site speed as a factor in organic search rankings. What this means is that if your site is an extremely heavy download or just takes too long to draw, then it may be penalized in the organic search listings.

While Google doesn't explicitly define site speed, it's safe to assume that it is a combination of overall page size (including files) and render time (including server response and time to draw the page). For those developers who seem incapable of posting anything smaller than a 1Mb image in the banner, or slimming down their HTML be removing all the extraneous cruft, this is motivation to start working on those optimization skills, even if their sites don't feel the wrath of the penalty.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Currently only 1% of search queries are affected by the site speed.
  • There are over 200 hundred factors used in determining page rank, and this one isn't being weighted to high that it kicks out the major ones.
  • It currently only applies to visitors searching in English (although you can expect to see them change that over time).
  • It launched a few weeks back, so if your site hasn't changed in its search engine rankings, you are probably safe.
  • Google links to a number of tools to test the speed if your site. Check out the links at code.google.com/speed/tools.html.
  • Nealry four months old now, Google Site Performance is an experimental Google Webmaster Tools Labs feature that shows you latency information about your site.

Hopefully few of you are concerned by this. If you are following best practices, you are already striving to have your public-facing sites draw quickly. Not only does this do things like reduce the load on your servers, it also cuts down on your overall bandwidth costs. An additional advantage is that you don't have to rely on your end user having a fast computer, lots of RAM (or swap space on the drive), and a fast connection. Given how many people surf in corporate environments that aren't exactly cutting edge, this is just good practice.

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