Now Google has come out and said that from 9th April 2010 they will be introducing speed as an element in determining the rankings of websites for specific keywords (view their blog at http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2010/04/using-site-speed-in-web-search-ranking.html).
Why is Google using speed in determining rankings?
From a usability point of view, they’ve got loads of data that suggests if a page loads faster the visitor is more likely to stay on the page and interact with it, it’s therefore a no brainer really, also as they introduce personalisation in search results they need to make sure it’s a level playing field.
From Google’s point of view there is definitely a financial benefit to speeding up the internet, faster sites means less power used by their servers, less storage space for all those cached web pages and less bandwidth that they have to pay for.
From my point of view I’m also hoping that the proliferation of junk sites with content mined text will also be put to pay because fast hosting isn’t cheap hosting.
How else will I benefit from having a faster site?
Amazon were one of the first websites to run proper split tests on the subject of speed and they came to the conclusion that even a fraction of a second longer in the time it takes to load a web page can be the difference between someone buying a product or not.
So everyone wins really.
When will speed be an issue in rankings?
Google will start the roll out on Google.com like they always do, they say they aren’t going to target every search phrase at the moment (which you can assume means only the competitive ones) however as Google starts to see the financial benefits of using less bandwidth, less storage space and less electricity you can bet your life it won’t be long before they roll it out to every search result.
How can I speed up my site for better rankings?
First and foremost – make sure your site is well coded, and that it’s optimised for speed. That should do for now in most instances, however in the future we have to be thinking about how to do more with less on the page, gone are the days when we can rely completely on big pictures, fancy bits of script etc, if you’re in a competitive search market then you need to be stripping back your site to make it lightening fast.
You should also look at your hosting, this isn’t such a big deal now however in the future it’s bound to be and those hosting providers that have invested in their infrastructure will be rewarded.
Is page load speed going to kill web design?
Not at all – but it is going to sort out the wheat from the chaff. If you’re looking for a web designer make sure they understand this element of internet marketing. At 2am we understand that simplicity is going to be the rule of the day for the foreseeable future, lots of white space, clever use of CSS and HTML where once web designers would have been happy to use images.
Content is still King. Relevance is everything. But the fastest will win the race.