Google: Page Speed Affects Rankings In 1 Out Of 100 Searches

Matt Cutts: I wouldn’t overly stress about it

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Google: Page Speed Affects Rankings In 1 Out Of 100 Searches
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With PubCon going on, Google’s Matt Cutts tweeted out a link to what he calls “a special webmaster video for #pubcon”. It’s about how Google determines page speed.

Specifically, it’s Matt’s response to a user question:

“How does Google determine page speed? In GWT some pages are listed as very slow (8+ seconds). But I have tested on older computers/browsers and they do not take anywhere near that long to load. Why might Google show such high numbers?”

“The fact is we’re looking at using toolbar data, and that’s using toolbar data only from people who have opted in. But that’s looking at real world load times from people for example, in the United States, we might say, how long does it take to load this particular page?” says Cutts. “And so if we’re looking at that, and it takes a long time, sometimes it’s not necessarily your site. It could be the network connectivity. But it’s a good thing to bear in mind.”

“It’s coming from all these different users, who can have dial-up lines,” he says. “They can have slow connections. And so a lot of times, people say, I’m just going to throw a 500 kilobyte page out there, and they forget there are a lot of people with slower connectivity. So that data is based primarily on toolbar data.”

“And we’re looking at what it looks like for real users,” he continues. “And do if you’ve got a lot of users who are having a slow experience, then that can affect the overall rating. One thing to bear in mind, however, is that only something like one out of 100 searches is site speed such a factor that it would actually change the rankings to a noticeable degree.”

“So that’s something on the order of one in 1,000 sites have truly site speed as a really big issue for them,” he says. “It’s always good to see if you can move a little bit faster and try to return results to users a little bit faster. It makes your website experience more fluid. It makes your users happier. There are studies that say the return on investment is definitely worth it. But at the same time, I wouldn’t stress overly about it.”

Cutts is speaking at PubCon tomorrow morning with Google Fellow Amit Singhal in a session called “Hot Google Topics & Trends.” It should be interesting to see what these two Google search guys have to say.

Cutts also tweeted out a picture of gummy pandas:

Pandas made out of acai? This might be the official #pubcon snack. http://t.co/UbkaJPj6 15 hours ago via Twitter for Android · powered by @socialditto

Note: The image at the top is from Matt’s personal blog, chronicling his moustache adventures for Movember. That’s from last week. Daune Forrester (Bing’s counterpart to Matt Cutts) told me at BlogWorld his moustache isn’t coming along so well. I believe he likened himself to a Spanish cop.

Google: Page Speed Affects Rankings In 1 Out Of 100 Searches
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  • http://www.zdentalgroup.com Ardent

    Well thanks for the info,but my opinion is that the chase after the site speed will strip the sites of images, flash animations and other useful features that just take a little bit longer to load. And we will have just websites with some text on them or a blank page, like Google’s.

  • http://www.PlacesToEatOkay.com Steven

    What I find interesting is that there are still people who do not realize that the page speed sampling that Google does is from the Google Toolbar itself. Google has never been fond of executing scripts (malware anyone?) and so if anybody remembers when Google first announced the page speed metric for Google Analytics that Google said it would take load time from users that use the Google toolbar as the sample data. I mean consider that if Google really used it’s own load times of your pages as a metric then you’d have a race to buy up all the server space that’s nearest to Google data centers. I don’t blame a newbie from asking Matt Cutts a question like that, but that person could have just Googled it and found the answer.

    On another note, that picture looks like Matt Cutts was taken hostage and the kidnappers were showing a proof of life picture. LOL.

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/search-engine-optimization-firm.htm Nick Stamoulis

    “It makes your website experience more fluid. It makes your users happier.”

    I think that’s what site owners should really be focusing on. I don’t think a 4 second site is going to rank pages above a 6 second site just because it’s faster. It’s only one factor of 200 that could be influencing how well your site ranks.

    • http://www.PlacesToEatOkay.com Steven

      Those 2 seconds you think are silly aren’t so silly when you consider that somebody can take your content, post it on their site, give you a link as credit to the content (big deal), and optimize their pages so they load on average faster than what you originally had, and rank higher than your site because page speed is a factor.

      This was not meant so that two pages where one obviously was more relevant to a query, but faster in page load time will trump the other. It’s so if there is a very close race for relevancy, the winner gets chosen by a few key ranking signals, such as page load time.

  • http://www.lynch.ie David Lynch

    I wonder is it the load time that counts or the steps that youv taken to improve speed… hmmm

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