Google: “Speed Will Affect Rankings”

December last year, I Blogged about how Google will use your website load speed as one of the factors in how your website ranks in the their Search Engine. The Search Engine Optimization community was buzzing about this since Google made their official announcement last week. Matt Cutts fom Google, felt the need to ease some of the rumblings on website page speed.

A couple of things to note:

Site speed will only be 1 of the over 200 factors that determine a website’s ranking. From Matt Cutts:

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. Compared to those signals, site speed will carry much less weight.

So website speed is a factor, but Google knows that the fastest website might not be the website that serves your search query. The goal is to give your users a good experience. Make sure your visitors aren’t waiting for your website to load. Like I always say, people want to get into your website, get the information they need and get out.

So if you had anything to do with making your website, you might want to ask yourself:

  • Website WaterfallAre your images optimized for the internet? Images make up a tremendous part of the internet, make sure the file sizes on your images aren’t slowing your website down. Make sure you know the pros and cons of GIFs, JPG’s and PNG’s.
  •  As small as css and javascript files are, they can be made even smaller by being compressed. Make sure you compress them on your website. Check this by using the tool on Website Optimization page, which tests for caching, speed at which your page loads on different modems, and gives you and analysis and recomendations.
  • If you load up my main Blog page, you’ll see that the images will only load when they come into the view of the screen. My Blog goes into a browser-ready state before all the images loading. Will this help with Google? We’ll soon find out.

Google points out that this change has only affected less than 1% of Search Engine rankings.

There are plenty of tools online that you can use to check your site speed. The first two that come to mind are Google Webmaster Tools and Web Page Test. Web Page Test gives you a “Waterfall” (see pic) of how long differrent requests take on your website. If you have Firefox with Firebug installed you can get Page Speed from Google or YSlow from Yahoo. Have Google Analytics installed? Remember to use the new version: Google asynchronous tracking

Any other things you do to keep your website jammin’? Throw’em in the comments.

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