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

    November 8, 2011
    Chris Crum

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. 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.