Over the course of 2009, a consistent theme that Google has been involved with is that of speed. In announcement after announcement, Google has talked about the importance of speed on the web, and how the company wants to do everything it can to make the web a faster place. Has it occurred to you that how fast your page loads may have a direct effect on how your site ranks in Google?
Don’t worry, it hasn’t had an impact…yet. In an interview with WebProNews, Google’s Matt Cutts told us that speed may soon be a ranking factor.
“Historically, we haven’t had to use it in our search rankings, but a lot of people within Google think that the web should be fast,” says Cutts. “It should be a good experience, and so it’s sort of fair to say that if you’re a fast site, maybe you should get a little bit of a bonus. If you really have an awfully slow site, then maybe users don’t want that as much.”
I would say that based on Matt’s comments it is probably fair to assume that Google will indeed begin taking page speed into consideration as a ranking factor, although he doesn’t come right out and say that they definitely will. That said, making your site faster is going to benefit your users and possibly your sales anyway, so you might as well start optimizing it for speed anyway. Then if Google really does start using this as a ranking factor, you will have a head start on boosting your rankings.
Google has generally been pretty good at providing webmasters with tools they can use to help optimize their sites and potentially boost rankings and conversions. Google recently announced a Site Speed site, which provides webmasters with even more resources specifically aimed at speeding up their pages. Some of these, such as Page Speed and Closure tools come from Google itself. But there are a number of tools Google points you to from other developers as well.
If you’re serious about wanting your site to perform better in search engines, and you haven’t given much thought to load times and such, it’s time to readjust your way of thinking. Caffeine increases the speed at which Google can index content. Wouldn’t it make sense if your site helped the process along?