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Google: Page Speed May Become a Ranking Factor in 2010

Algorithm Change Would Make Slow Sites Rank Lower

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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."

>> Site speed ranking comments starts at the 02:35 point in the video…

"I think a lot of people in 2010 are going to be thinking more about ‘how do I have my site be fast,’ how do I have it be rich without writing a bunch of custom javascript?’" he says.

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?

Have you given much thought to site speed? Is your site up to snuff? Discuss here.

Related Articles:

Google Wants the Web to Function Like a Magazine

Google Provides Tool for Speeding Up Web Pages

Google Lets Businesses Speed Up Videos

Google: Page Speed May Become a Ranking Factor in 2010
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  • cormac

    This is ridiculous, when people search their interest is in the content of a site, not the speed.

    • Chris Crum

      I agree that their interest is in the content of the site, but I think people also want that content to load quickly. I think if two sites are relevant to my search and one of them is quicker than the other one, I would prefer the quick one.

      • http://www.laokay.com Adsense Publisher

        I think this basically is going to have a lot of publishers also paging their content into multiple pages if they cannot afford a better server, faster connection, etc.

        It would be the easiest way to load at least some of the content faster.

        This might also force a lot of smaller publishers to go more text and less graphic.
        That can mean media rich ads and media rich content might be put aside or they’ll face less traffic overall from Google.

        • Guest

          >This might also force a lot of smaller publishers to go more text and less graphic.

          there is an unclear defintion of speed. if the page is cached by the browser, as it usually is,
          only the initial load will be a drag. subsequent loadings will be sigificantly faster.

          so what is googles definition of speed then ?
          will sites be penalised for good graphics, which loads a little slow initially ?
          will inter-networking hiccups be considered site hiccups ?
          will distances play a role ?
          will all sites in Katmandu say, be automatically labelled “slow” ?
          will water on the moon mean humans can hope to catch a cuppa Cappuccino on the way to Mars ?

          silly indeed.

    • http://www.twitter.com/typodactyl Sharlene

      That’s only half true.

      If I search for a very specific thing, then content is what I prioritize, but if I search a general topic then speed is definitely part of the search.

      There are plenty of sites with excellent content for broader searches and speed is definitely a reason for me to pick one site over the other. I would love for it to be incorporated into a search – especially if it meant sites with less ads and superfluous javascript that just lags and lags and (pause for loading) lags.

  • http://www.dotCOMReport.com SEO basics

    I can see why Google is considering adding speed to page rank. Who wants to wait around for a site that takes twenty minutes to load. While content is king, if the page takes too long to load no one is going to see the content.

  • Guest

    I think this is a bad idea for two reason.
    Google would be using their influence to define the Internet in a space that is not related to quality sites. Speed is important in it’s own right but it’s not apart of relevance. It’s getting harder to find good information within google’s search results with all the sites that have come up just to profit from google adsense and provide no great value to the reader.

  • Guest

    What do you think that the faster a page loads the sooner a searcher can leave that site and return to the google page and hopefully click on more sponsored links.

  • http://www.blogrpro.com BlogrPro

    Well, this is what i expect for many years. Thankfully, they finally messed up with the speed. Google should come open and tell how will they rank for speed.

  • http://www.ebusiness-technology.net Ebusiness Technology

    I don’t like this idea. It’s already in a website owner’s interest for a site to be fast loading, to increase page views and sales / advertising conversions. But if Google makes this a factor in Page Rank it would stifle new competition by favouring wealthier organisations with better servers. Either that or plain text files will go to the top :)

  • http://txtFeeder.com KyleGetson

    I agree. I think if the site is responding in a reasonable amount of time it should have no effect on ranking. This would lead to issues as to when Google should crawl my site. My response time is slower during heavy traffic periods, but if Google comes by then, I would get a poorer score than I would if I had no traffic, say, 4am.

    Bottom line, if they are ranking based on the quality of the website, this, along with many other things should be left out. If they want to create a new product called ‘speed search’ to find the fastest sites on the web, that would be fine, but keep it out of the regular search.

  • Guest

    If I go into a restaurant and order a steak, I’d be annoyed if the server brought me a burger, and then told me it’s OK because it’s relevant – they’re both beef after all – but the burger was ready first. This is kind of the same thing. It all depends on at what point speed trumps relevance, but right now, I’m not a fan of this change.

    • Guest

      That is the problem. Google values hamburger over steak and believes that the rest of us do too. How are people to know the difference if they are never shown where the fillet mignon is? They can’t even find it. While a fast Google search is mandatory and sites that are not updated, old html, slow and sloggy should come up lower than updated, trafficked sites, setting a limit on load time that applies straight across the board for all types of sites is just ludicrous.

  • http://www.HypnoBusters.com Jon Rhodes

    Absolutely agree with you Chris. I cannot see how it is ridiculous to say that a slow web site won’t have a negative effect on its desirability. I for one get irritated with slow loading sites, and definitely have a lower user experience than if it was faster. Of course people don’t visit a site because it is fast, without any regard to content. The content is what attracts them, but if it is painfully slow, then don’t expect to keep them for long – at least no longer than it takes to load up the pages when hitting the ‘back’ button!

  • http://www.ilifephotography.co.uk karl bratby

    Oh My God, my sites rank well at moment but are quite slow, hope this isnt about to change

  • Guest

    What about sites that are popular because of their content that includes photos and video – multimedia and intricate, interactive user valuable features? They are going to rank lower than a plain site with a bit of text containing a ton of adsense links and garbage – made only for the purpose of clicks and affiliate bucks? That’s what many Google changes created in the past. A whole slew of irrelevant sites ranking higher than the sites people really should have been served with first.

  • http://www.browsewire.net Krishan

    Don’t worry guys, this is not going affect things so much as it would be one of the factors google used to rank your sites. So what if there is an addition of another drop to the sea of search ranking algorithms . I do not care ;-)

  • Chris Crum

    Google frequently discusses how they want to provides users with the best experience possible, and the most relevant results. I don’t think Google is going to sacrifice relevancy to the extent that users are not going to find what they’re looking for because it loads quicker. We can only speculate at how this would shake out at this point (if it even does for sure), but I would guess it would come down to if there were more than one site with the exact same amount of relevancy to the query, than the faster one would win.

    I don’t think it’s going to be burgers and steaks as one commenter suggests, but steaks and faster steaks. You may not want the burger over the steak because it’s faster, but wouldn’t you want the steak that came out faster because the other steak was still frozen?

  • http://www.freewarebb.com Freeware

    Sorry but this is going too far now, meaning those of us on a budget will be lost in the rankings where the big boys will race past. Google are fast becoming the new Microsoft in calling the shots, granted google is their baby but when most of the world use it they then have the power to make or break someone and the decisions they make should be fair and just, not simply a whim or wish list. They are fast running the risk of webmasters abandoning them in favour for other search engines, god knows I’ve sweated blood and tears trying to impress google yet they seem to favour sites which infest peoples computers with spyware and adware simply because they do a better job of selling their ads!. If I could curse here I would, yet I fear my comments would be edited so I’ll finish with my apt title, LOAD OF BALLS GOOGLE, LOAD OF BALLS!

  • http://www.oilandgaspeople.com Kevin

    our website http://www.oilandgaspeople.com is very fast compared to our competitors so I am all for this. We develop around speed to offer our users the best possible experience when using the site. its a lot of work and effort to ensure that every page loads quickly so about time it was rewarded!

  • NAX

    In that case, we will build another search engine :)

  • http://thewebsquad.com Web Design Las Vegas

    The web should be fast. If I click through to a site that takes a long time to load then I will just hit back and move on. With the new Google update, it will save me and lots of people lots of time.

    Back in the days of dial-up and slow DSL, long load times were common and people were patient, but today with connection speeds reaching 1gigabit per second, there is no reason for a slow load time.

  • http://butterflips.com Guest

    This is silly and not do-able for retail sites that need good pictures of their products. You can only optimize images so much. What will Google think of next.

    • http://thewebsquad.com Web Design Las Vegas

      It is totally possible. My company built a retail site that loads very quickly and has high quality pictures. Its all in how you build your site and the tools that you use.

  • http://www.socialcreeper.com Shank

    We need information at the speed of thought and that’s what is the web all about. Accuracy and Speed.

    So, it’s our next challenge to create websites that load faster. Lighter websites rank higher.

    Thanks
    Shank

  • http://www.highimpactsitedesign.com Chris

    I agree that the speed of loading is an influential factor in determining whether people actually stay on a site long enough to read the content. If a page is bloated with graphics and taking a long time to load, most people are going to click to the next site unless they have a specific reason to view that one.

    It highlights the importance of not only making sure that the number of images on a page is kept within reason, but also that they are compressed and not resized in HTML.

  • http://www.rankontoponline.com Rank On Top

    What was funny I was just talking to a customer about thier code to text ratio and how it effects the speed of his website and how important it is to more text than code(ratio).
    without going into how google reads a webpage, My own use has been when analizing a customers page is to first check coding and fix errors, and then see if we can optimize the page for all browsers and make it load faster.

    Here is a good one Google has X amount of servers right?
    Well if pages that are optimized to load faster and are code cleanly.
    Times that by thier bandwidth and eventually with them spending $$ on buying companies.

    By spreading this word of page speed its actually a subcontious call to lower thier costs on the bottom line.

    maybe i’m wrong but thinkabout it moneywise..

  • http://www.duncanharmsworth.com Duncan Harmsworth

    As a webmaster/web designer/graphic designer/blogger I have to agree with google in the fact that page speed should be a factor in ranking. I usually spend 1-2 hours a day reading technology blogs and articles just to keep up with the latest trends and issues in the industry. I myself have little patience for green bars and really appreciate spending my time reading and learning, not waiting. In all the pages I build, I have always optimized my page (especially media) to keep page loading time to a bare minimum.

    The only problem I may have with this idea is that text rich pages with no interesting content may take precedence over more valuable counterparts. I think that there should be a certain page size cap (KB), where if web sites stay below that cap per page, they will not be penalized in their ranking. After all, isn’t this “page speed ranking” being set to keep users from being bogged down with slow pages, not to see who is the fastest?

  • http://realityviews.blogspot.com/ sm

    content as well as speed both are important.
    both should get the bonus.

  • http://www.livetrainingsession.com/training/flash.html Flash Training Online

    For years we’ve been talking about the 15s deadline for a web page to load or the visitor leave for more fertile pastures. The speed should count for something and it’s in the best ineterest of the internet. As applications are becoming more browser-centric and with the upcoming Chrome OS there is no doubt web pages speed need to be taking into consideration just like on-page SEO is now.

    The web is about content as much as how fast the information can be accessed. In the end we’ll all benefit from a faster web. In a scale of 1 to 10 the speed should rank somewhere between 2 and 3.

  • http://alongtheway.110mb.com/ Thomas

    I designed my site for speed from the beginning. Small images were used and I didn’t go for any flash. Just a basic web site. Lately, however, I’ve been reading how Google loves images. Supposedly big good quality images at that. If I was to take that advice my site would be terribly slow. It would also be against what I previously learned from Google about using smaller and fewer images. It even got me to thinking maybe they feel there are enough high speed users to go for it now.

    What about blogger? Many of those pages have so many images an load terribly slow. A lot of the time my browser hangs for a while and I can’t do anything. I do wish Google would make up their mind or mine :).

    • pookie

      and learn how to make image files smaller without losing quality.
      Images are good.
      Bloated image files that take forever to load are not – same goes with about everything else.

  • http://www.laokay.com Adsense Publisher

    This smells like another one of Google’s tricks to get us to use their software to create websites.

    If their software is faster at rendering the pages, then wouldn’t the obvious choice then be to use Google software to create your website because you knew it would favor better in search results?

    Foxweb is blazing fast, and our servers for our websites are blazing fast, and they are on a 1gps connection, so I expect our websites to jump ahead of the game based on what Google is planning ahead.

    I think it’s unfair to many small publishers who can’t afford fancy software or programmers, or even a really fast connection, but since Google has left us no choice but to roll with the punches, I’m in favor of anything that would give our sites the edge they need.

  • http://www.bza.com Barbara

    Who would have thought this would play any role in search results. What will they think of next? Maybe their running out of things to keep the SEO people jumping. What will happen next is the birth of a whole new industry…. SSO Speed Site Optimization. If the term catches on, I would like to take the credit.

    • http://thewebsquad.com Web Design Las Vegas

      Hurry trademark it lol

  • http://www.JupaMan.com Damian

    I for one care abut the content, yes, HOWEVER, if a site does not load fast enough for me within a few seconds, then I click the back button right away and move on to the next page on the google search result.
    Content is very relevant, but if I’m looking for something, is because I want it now, right now, and I don’t want to wait for the site to load.

    So I agree if google decided to count “speed” as one of the factors for their search engine ranking, I think it’s really awesome and will benefit the users. It will also force developers not to write shitty code that makes the site weight too much and load slower.. so from me? two thumbs up on this idea.

  • Guest

    Most users today want everything and they want it yesterday. It does not matter if you have authoritative content or not, if you load slow, I am willing to bet the user is going to take their chances on another page that loads faster, even if it isn’t the best content.

  • http://www.skolaiimages.com Carl D

    Hey folks,

    Wouldn’t this be an incentive to not have ads and banners on a site? Seems counter to the idea of people paying more to advertise on high ranking sites to me.

    Cheers

    Carl

  • Geoff

    Not a bad thing so long as the weighting factor applied to the site speed is set sensibly. I do wonder though, how accurately Google can determine that the site speed is due to poor design, not simply internet congestion at the time the measurement is being made. Geographics also plays a role in site speed. Page loading from a site in another country can be slower than it is in the same country, yet the content from the remote site may well be richer and more efficiently constructed. And what about the effect of throttling employed by ISPs to help load balance available bandwidth across hundreds of hosted web sites? There is more to site speed than poor design.

  • http://www.coverbonanza.com/ Sam

    I think this is important, I just hope they make sure that the penalty is not too excessive. There should be a threshold where it starts mattering; I mean, I don’t think most people care if it’s 2 tenths of a second or three in page load times.

  • http://www.googleadwordsexpert.net Googl Adwords Expert

    Contents are the main thing. I don’t understand if contents are good then how site speed can be a ranking factor.

    Will this be just based on likeness of google people? as Matt said: “but a lot of people within Google think that the web should be fast,”

    So ridiculous.

  • http://going-well.com Serge

    Yes. It should depend on the website. And difference between slowest and fastest site of the same PageRank before enabling this feature should be really small, let’s say 0.1%. So fastest site with similar content will appear couple positions higher than slower site. If difference will be huge, so lots of financial sites, gaming sites with lots of Flash and JavaScript will be buried. The gold rule is not to rely on search algorithms too much. The best thing is relevant content! Have a good time!

  • http://www.brain-waves-technology.com Brain Waves Technology

    To much caffeine for the folks @ Google this a result of Google giving employs to much FREE Java that leads to agitation and the need for speed, calm down fallers the web is not going that fast.

    The bottom line is stay off the lines boys. and will this speed factor increase the searches experience, or are the results going to display sites with little content because the site loads quickly.

    The real question is how is this speed factor measured Kb per second OR haw fast the page loads.

    Example: If we have 2 Identical servers (Sites) with exactly the same speed.

    But site A has more content then B would Google rank B as the better site just because it loaded quicker.

    How much weight does this new (Speed variable) have? Will every one start breaking up sites into more smaller pages? Half the size Twice the Speed.

    In conclusion it

  • http://www.seohighrank.com SEOHighrank

    I think its good idea if we concern over Internet user. Generally no wants to wait on the site if downloading speed is slow, they jump over the other site. I think now they concern over on Speed, and same time its help to build the business too, if all are looking over site speed, they will not lose potential customers.

    But at the same time when we are talking about ideal downloading speed, how much it will be ? Google are defined how much it is ?

    Thanks

  • http://abernook.com A Tech

    Too many times, sites rank but are soooo slow that they are unusable. Sometimes it’s due to bandwidth but other times because of way too much crazy movies/ads/flash/javascript that take forever to load and initialize. When pages take 10+ seconds to load on broadband – something is wrong.

  • http://www.mediakoordinator.no/soekemotoroptimalisering/ Nickolass Jensen

    I mean, I would be grateful. If then the faster loading websites wich will presumably be ranking above a slower competitor, hasn’t got the relevancy that you are looking for – then you won’t have wasted that much time moving on to the next result in line.

    This actually also gives Google an opportunity to have more results examined, and as a result:
    More pageviews of the seachresults pages.

    Furthermore, from Googles point of wiew – this is also a clever business idea, as it gives more Adwords impressions and therefore it has a huge potential for creating more clicks on the sponsored links. I am not blaming Google for doing this.

    But I hope it doesn’t mean less relevant content in the top results.
    Faster business – better business;-)

  • Frank

    I like Matt Cutts. he comes across a a real nice unoficial spokesman for google…But quite often (just about always) he skimps around subjects and actually doesnt say anything solid or definative…about anything. I get the impression he actually einjoys doing this.

    “it is probably fair to assume” ( maybe it isnt)
    “although he doesn’t come right out and say” (maybe he doesnt really know)
    a lot of people within Google think that the web should be fast” ( so does everyone else, thats why they invented broadband)
    “speed may soon be a ranking factor” (or maybe it wont)
    maybe you should get a little bit of a bonus” ( This one is ultra vague and baiting)

    Why leave the WPN reporters (and everyone else) guessing. Whats his problem.
    This isnt “News” Its Gossip.
    Maybe you shouldnt make “news” of everything that comes out of Mat Cuts mouth. maybe he is just “thinking out loud”.

  • http://online-retailers.blogspot.com/ emily

    I will never wait for a super slow site. One minute is my limit.

  • http://www.plantinhamilton.com/forum/index.php Free Instant Forums

    Faster is better.

    I had it with websites that never finish to load when I do a keyword search online. Off course, it is about finding contents and information, but time is also money.

    Whenever I get to a website that take minutes to load, I just close the tab and go to the next available one.

    It’s Better than Nothing…

  • Guest

    Google’s #1 focus on search results needs be cutting out ways that spammers can game the system. Optimizing for performance is clearly something that spammers can optimize to give themselves an advantage over actual content sites, therefore by making it a factor, they’ve made it easier for spammers to game the system and thus will reduce the quality of their results.

  • http://www.youlay.net vasir

    Yes its good news for new websites coming up but for existing sites webmasters have to work out a little more. Hope this will not have much impact.

  • http://www.make-a-great-website.com Blink

    We all know speed matters. How many times have you hit the back button because the page you were on was taking too long to load? How often have we hit refresh several times to get a page to load and when it didn’t just skipped to something else?

    I know I’ve done it several times. If a page doesn’t load fast enough, especially when what I’m looking for is important and there’s abundant information on it, I leave it for something better.

    Besides, if a website is loading very slowly, that’s an indication of poor website design or lackluster maintenance.

    Once again, this is a case of Google knowing what humans do online and adjusting their product to reflect that.

  • Sean

    You know, this sounds good, but it’s not the way a search engine works. A search engines job is to deliver you to the pages that have the information or service you want, not to provide a value judgement on whether or not that page is a well-designed page or not.

    Who decides what “loads fast” means — relative to what?

    And what’s next? Google thinks that only pages that look “good” should be ranked high? Pages with lots of white?

    Maybe pages that have Facebook Connect are slow, but those that use Google Friend Connect are faster?

    There’s an arrogance here — “we know what’s best for the web” — that’s kind of terrifying.

  • http://vpstone.ir Guest

    what’s the translation.
    In my work is not a correct. When Google to reckon speed a site that is why this kind of speed in search results will not play. users to choose?

  • Baba

    DO no Evil is the Motto for Google, are you kidding.BY changing algorithms that ranks sites based on how fast they load means sites that are not in the U.S. or those who can’t afford to pay for having high speed hosting services will be penalized.Interesting way to remove the poor from hoping the Net was a equal level playing field or that was their hope/dream maybe…

  • Baba

    If Google was smart they would rank sites based on how efficiently the Site was running i.e. the Code was tightly written thus using less CPU cycles and also based on much the hosting service was using renewable sources of power. NOW THAT WOULD BE PROGRESSIVE.

  • Lalit Kumar

    .

    We had considered “loading time” as the important factor especially to enhance usability of the websites but to our surprise most of our websites started ranking well or got elevated to higher positions for some of the important keywords. And this we noticed 7 to 8 months ago so YES in practical this SPEED thing is already on for Google. Albeit SEO was ongoing process even before that but co-incidence is not gonna happen on all the sites. And we were convinced that SPEED is one of the factor. Though it was not controlled testing but we noticed the same effect was not seen on other sites (which were not under usability scanner)

    Regards,
    Lalit Kumar SEO SEM Analytics Expert
    India

    .

  • http://www.piedesigns.co.za Kevin

    With the vast amount of info on the we & the speed at which we have to multi task as a result to cram in as much as possible in a days work to stay ahead, I think this is a must.