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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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  • http://www.islate.org Apple iSlate tablet

    Hopefully it will get rid of some of the over done flash sites.

  • http://www.surveychicken.com/ SurveyChicken.com

    I think google’s webmaster tools and analytics are very good. Definitely helpful for tracking and monitoring traffic to your website.

  • http://farmacia-morlan.com Avene

    Thank you for this information. I really have to work out speed in my web. I can see the importance of this matter.

  • Stupidscript

    IMHO …

    1) Google should let the market take care of it. (Do people really blame the search engine for a site that loads slowly?) If they click through and then don’t wait for the site to load because it is so slow, Google already “knows” this and factors it into the next query, and its SERPs, so a site with consistently high load times would naturally wind its way down the SERPs without any additional manipulation.

    2) A technological nightmare. At what point should page load time be assessed? During indexing? Or maybe an averaging of load times in-practice? In any case, setting a token that describes a page’s load time is a token that’s all dressed up for a lawsuit.

    Let’s keep in mind that TCP/IP can take any route available to exchange packets, and that doesn’t mean the page is a slow-loader … maybe the shortest trip was to Uzbekistan, which was having router issues on that day? If I can prove that my page loads faster than the pages Google lists above mine, can I get the penalty removed? My lawsuit will insist upon it.

    Extending the token to include every page in any particular domain is also dangerous, as a single page may have scripting or image issues that prevent it from loading quickly, where every other page in that domain may be a simple text file that loads in microseconds. Would the whole domain be penalized, or is it truly on a page-by-page basis?

    3) Browser plugins, add-ons and extensions, and search engine programming (i.e. Bing) are already providing “preview” functionality that make the page load time less important during the frenzy of multiple searches. One can now do a search and get a peek at each of the pages returned by the query without needing to visit the site. If a site looks interesting to me in its preview, it doesn’t really matter what the page load time is, because I am already interested in going there. And again, if I see the preview and click the link then decide while waiting that it’s taking too long, I can simply hit Back like I normally would, and Google “knows” that I have “voted” with my Back button … and it will move that particular link further down the SERPs with the next query.

    I think it’s interesting that Google is looking all around the edges of search, and I think it’s great that they are giving some visibility to the problems of poorly executed page production, but … will this actually become part of Google’s organic ranking algorithm? I don’t think it is very likely.

  • http://cleanstar-homeandgardenworld.com Clean Star

    I agree on some web designers / website owners really might need to work on the speed of their sites. But I also know, it is not always possible to achieve perfect loading times. This counts especially for online stores with lots of images loading to make the site even more attractive and to animate the user getting in a buying mood. Besides of that not every web hosting service offers the same performance and not every website owner can afford renting a dedicated server just to rank higher in Google’s SERP or PR. So what does this tell us? The big companies with big budgets will be the top ones again and the small business owner trying to keep up with their sites and trying to compete a little bit at least, are pretty much in an disadvantage. I for sure couldn’t afford spending a couple hundred dollars a month on renting a dedicated server just to make sure I won’t have to share the server performance with other users so my site will load a bit faster.
    Content is what should matter, not super speed. There aren’t too many people using the good old dial up anymore and using dsl, T1 or cable makes even bigger sites loading decently fast so the user wouldn’t have to wait a minute or even two until the page has completely loaded.
    Just my 2 cents.

  • http://ankitaseoguide.blogspot.com Ankita Shah

    I think it’s one of good point to include in ranking factor. I am agree with this factor.

  • http://hollywoodbollywood.wordpress.com Nipul Parikh

    Most of the people they haven’t web speed then?

  • http://www.21st-apothecary.com Andrea

    I have to agree with Chris Crum. And frankly, I am pleased that being speed sensitive will work in my favor. If only Google would take font size into consideration as well, then I would really kick some serious ass! LOL.

  • http://www.discoverserbia.org/en Serb

    1. I was working a lot of time on travel site and have a lot of photos made by my self. There are a lot of made for add sense travel sites which doesnt provide any useful information about that destination and they have a few photos which are stolen from internet, of course. For example, webmaster from Mexico makes travel sites about Italy, but he has never been in Italy. They will be faster ofcourse and they will have better position. It means, Google give direct support to made for adsense sites.

    2. What’s about shared servers? It means big companies who can pay for expensive dedicated server will have better PR. If they can pay expensive servere, did it mean their site have better content?

    3. It is absolutely not important if site have load time 0.3 seconds or 0.5 sec.

    4. What’s about design? A lot of people like funcy design. If Google think that 0.2 seconds are more important than content in order to satisfied people who use dial up, they should also calculete design for PR in order to satisfied people who prefer fancy design, not content. It is same.

    5. If Google think that intentet should be faster, on that way Google doesnt encourage internet providers to do something, because webmasters must reduce images and similar content which makes sites slower.

  • James Jones

    If this can be done sensibly then I think it a good idea.

    I don’t particularly care if someone want’s to host a basic site on their DSL or whatever. I see the problem being bloated sites and worst of all in my view are sites that simply suck up your whole computer (CPU) with moving graphics – usually adverts.

    e.g.
    http://www.independent.co.uk/ – for example uses up 100% of one CPU core (as long as the site is open), makes the fan on my laptop become audible, costs me electricity and pumps CO2 into the air at the power station.

    Of course the ads can be easily subverted but I don’t actually mind reasonable ads. If the new google approach fixed loons like these then I would be eternally grateful.

    Here is an *idea* Mr Google – rate the sites on energy efficiency too:-) i.e. CPU requirement.

    PS

    Even without ads www.independent.co.uk uses a load of CPU, perhaps to drive the “Editors Choice” sliding image bar thingy. grrrrrrrr – fan on laptop whizzing up and down the scale.

  • http://www.lizarddirect.com David Ellyatt

    I have always believed that site speed is a factor in your sites rankings. It may never have been officially part of the algo, but having watched how Googlebot deals with slow loading pages and the fact that it doesn’t stick around long, poor site speed has always depressed indexation.

  • http://okhosting.com alejandro chavez

    i dont think google take speed as a ranking factor, not it all !!, i think matt doesnt believe it , but its a topic that can cause interest thats why ne make this new or post, but google never its going to take importance to technical factors to the ranking algorithm, content its the king !!

    see you folks !

  • http://picturemousemat.com tski

    I think this does make sense as long as its implemented in moderation.. (hmmm google involved = no chance).

    If it was implemented in moderation sites with excessive advertising would undoubtably feel the pinch.. some of the slowest ad’s to load in my experience are ironically googles ad blocks.

    ebays banners can take a while as well.

  • http://www.security.ingersollrand.com Jon Maisey

    I agree with Cormac.

    Results should focus on relevancy of search term rather than page speed. Ideally we would all like to have precise information served quickly, however, I would rather wait an extra 3 seconds for a page to load serving accurate content to my search request than a page that loads instantly sacrificing good material.

    In the age of fibre optic broadband, debating internet speed should be a thing of the past!

    Surely concentrating on dynamic content and intelligent web apps will make the internet a faster place. We won’t even have to search as it will already know what we want before we do.

  • http://www.searchgroup.com.au Richard

    More often than not the small changes Google make have little impact for the majority of web sites.

    If you optimise well ensuring that the code on each page is as lean as possible and you don

  • http://slinq.com/ Kieran Simkin

    Perhaps not a bonus for being fast, just a penalty for being excessively slow? Some sites make you wait a good 5 seconds before they even start sending HTML (because they’re doing a lot of database queries to generate each page). There’s really no reason for this, pages should be cached server-side so that when one is requested, the server is immediately able to fulfil the request – not doing so is just sloppy.

  • Guest

    Speed is a big issue. If a page takes ages to load, then I’ll frequently give in and go alsewhere. This is because slow sites tend to be those those are content-light and advert heavy – content tends to be text, adverts are graphics, often several levels/sites down.

    Of course, with adblock turned up high, a hosts file with 70k entries, LSO objects disabled in flash, scripting and plugins disabled, and cookies deleted when I close a tab, I don’t tend to see many adverts or much sign of intrusions into my privacy. :-)

    Ian

  • http://irmgardhartmann.com Irmgard Hartmann

    I think that Google need the speed for his new logarithmic and so it will be a factor in the future.

    The question is what the crawler make with the thousands of Photostocks and other sites with high resolution pictures, this sites are also business and the people search about pictures.

  • http://browsermob.com Dolamite

    I found this great tool that allows you to instantly check the speed of a website from different locations. The tool is free of charge which is great, and its created by the folks at BrowserMob.

    http://browsermob.com/instant-website-test

  • http://webnethosting.net http://webnethosting.net

    I understand the point they are trying to make with this site speed stuff but find it a little odd that Google announces they are doing away with the Page Rank system but making speed a ranking factor? PR seemed to be a better ranking component than speed. Don’t get me wrong I want sites to load fast too but there are a lot of variables that go into speed whereas content should be the most important ranking variable…

  • Desu

    My #1 page speed issue is outside ad servers and analysis services with laggy web servers. This makes Google’s statements a bit ironic because google-analytics has been by far the worst of them. I put google-analytics and a couple of the major ad/analysis services into Adblock and suddenly 95% of slow pages and load issues vanished.

  • ronj

    It’s stupid. This means Google will be mediating content and its quality. I want to see all content and decide what is best for me. Speed is not a factor. If a site loads slowly then I will leave myself… don’t need Google to hold my hand.

  • http://growthinharmony.com Reid Peterson

    I made the mistake of asking for flash with my first website. Now that I’m more educated on what a functional waste it is, I say “Good bye” to flash. I support the site speed to help with rankings and what’s that saying: You snooze, you ____

    • http://cdinsky.com Cdinsky

      glad to know i’m not the only one down on Obese Flash.

  • http://www.MyWebs.Biz/ Tony

    I think in general this is a good idea. I seriously doubt if this would ever be a major part of Google’s ranking formula. So those here who are freaking out over this need to just relax a bit. One of my web sites has many #1′s in Google, so its good for getting usage data from. Just today I was looking over my analytics data. Out of 20,335 visits only 247 users had dialup. Thats just 1.2146…%. the rest had some form of broadband, or at least ISDN or a T1. 66 users had OC3! Must be nice. I’m sure Google realizes what my numbers are telling me, most users have high speed and they are willing to wait a bit longer for content than they were back in the good old 56k days.

    That being said I do think its fair to give a little bonus to well coded sites that load fast and a penalty to sites that load very slowly. By slow I mean they take several seconds to begin to do anything. I couldn’t afford a dedicated server now either. But there are a lot of things a webmaster can do to speed things up. Yahoo’s YSlow, http://developer.yahoo.com/performance/rules.html , offers excellent advice on the subject. Simply putting images on a different subdomain, images.example.com, doubles the available TCP/IP connections from 2 to 4 per user. Since Matt is hinting page speed might make a difference going forward, I would bet it will for sure.

    • Guest

      Speed could certainly be directly related to the site’s traffic. How can speed dictate relevancy or quality? Speed dictates “money”. The more money you have, the more powerful your server(s) and other resources. MSN Bing is FAST, but is it better than Google, Yahoo! or ScrubTheWeb? Good (not rich) sites are often sitting on virtual name based servers where overall traffic can affect the speed of the visit at that moment. Plus don’t forget their is “net congestion” that plays a role here as well. It may take 20 hops before I resolve to Google, but someone in Sacremento California may only require 3 hops to get there. Does that mean Google is not good because of the hops it takes to get there? Absolutely not! What a STUPID algo!

  • http://www.webdesignsouthyorkshire.com Web Design Company Sheffield

    This is crazy, if its true we had all better start using the YSlow Firefox Addon and learning how to tweak server settings.

  • Guest

    This is worse than PageRank! When is the algorithm “relevant” come to play? That’s the day when Google becomes a real search engine and the day I’m waiting for. I’m personally tired of seeing all the same crap in their results. What about all that new relevant stuff where the site doesn’t yet have a PageRank? That’s the stuff I’m looking for. There are tens of thousands of new pages/sites on the Web daily, but Google won’t give them the time of day because they are not yet “popular”. I am NOT looking for the sites who are paying the most money to be seen on Google. Screw that! I want new, relevant and non-bias search results which Google seems to not be able to deliver.

  • http://www.cpu.lt Thom

    I think too, people also want that content to load quickly

  • http://rapidcoolrooms.com.au Andrew B

    Im a webmaster as well as a web user and I hate it when a site takes ages to load. I move on to the next one. There’s a lot of competition out there and there is more than one site that would have what im looking for so I think loading speed is a legitimate issue for rankings. Fair or not for site owners I don’t know but that’s the reality of it I guess.

    • Guest

      I agree we live in a “fast” paced world and giving “points” to businesses that serve you fast and with a smile is great in the brick-n-mortar world, but the Internet was never intended to be a competitive business platform. In fact, there are many of us on the Net doing research and collecting data all of which may be stored on slow servers or networks. If Google were to bury this information because the servers were/are slow would be a lot like Big Brother I think. If not Big Brother you could certainly call this algorithm “the rich get richer” as they called PageRank.

      Search engines should not dictate relevancy based on any other factor than “relevance”. Search engines need to invest more in understanding the words on the page and be able to know which pages are spam and which pages provide valuable content and are relevant to the search request being made. Google does this beautifully with Adsense and Adwords, but fails horribly as a search engine index. Now why is that? Maybe it’s because search egines cost money where Adwords and Adsense make money. The better they can target those ads, the more money Google makes. Too bad they can’t apply this same technology to their search engine. Instead they come up with simple and often exploited algorithms like “If they are fast sites, they get extra points!!!” OR “If they are a .com they get extra points” OR “If the keyword is in the domain name they get extra points!” OR “If there are popular sites linking to them (pagerank), give them extra points!”. That’s all simple grade level ranking algorithms and this idea is just another PageRank with a different title.

      • http://cdinsky.com Cdinsky

        Google’s all about the visitor. If goog serves up slow pages, folks might decide to mosey over to bing and yahoo.

        There’s just greed for speed these days. Slow load? I’m gone. You?

  • http://truckhose.com radius13

    Shorts pages with no images is this the new web 3.0?

    • Guest

      Search engines like Google do NOT read/view/download graphics, Flash, Java, Javascript, server side styles or other embeded multimedia from a Web page when indexing it. Their image indexer will retrieve images, but that’s not their Web search indexer. So if this stupid algorithm was true you could create a NO text page with a half dozen lines of HTML and place a 100 million Gigabyte Flash ap on the page and you’ll get rewarded by Google’s stupid algorithm even though your page will take an hour to download and view. Then all you do is stuff your keywords and links into a noscript Tag and you beat Google up on this stupid algorithm. And let’s say Google will download all this crap (not going to happen) and you include in your robots.txt denial of access to your /media/ directory like this:

      User-agent: *
      Disallow: /media/

      and then you placed your slow content there and reference to it:

      <img src=”/media/some_huge_graphic” />

      Does it mean Google will now no longer “honor” our wishes and NOT enter this area? If this is the case, it means Google is no longer (never really was) a “friendly” search engine.

      There is NO way Google is going to download everything and test to see how long a particular Web page is going to take to download for humans. It’s just not feasible. In fact, if Google were to do this it would take months just to index and retrieve it’s own youtube site. This is totally stupid and I will guarantee this will never happen. Common sense will tell you that. Is Matt on drugs?

      If you review the video regarding this so called “speed” algorithm you’ll soon find out that Google’s main concerned is Asense and being able to quickly deliver those ads to users and a slow site means slow ad delivery and less money for Google. What? So this algorithm is so the faster sites get points so they can deliver more Google Adsense. What would happen if everyone removed Adsense from their Websites? Google would go bankrupt within 48 hours that’s what would happen. It is Google’s bread and butter and makes up the majority of their income.

      The video is clear that Adsense and ad delivery is the real reason for even mentioning such an algorithm. It’s also clear this is not happening and common sense tells you it never will. I wish Google would put in as much effort in search results delivery that it does with Adsense and other ad delivery. Their search engine would be a lot better that’s for sure.

      • http://cdinsky.com Cdinsky

        Some MAJORLY good points in your comment. If Adsense is the culprit, will goog ignore or penalize your site? Interesting.

  • http://www.14gaam.com Hetal

    Its really good ranking factor.

    Everyone like Google just because its speed. write phrase in google box within second you can get result.

    So whenever i visit the website i wan to webpage should load quickly. If it it load fast then i like that website more then others

    You gays are thinking from webmaster or programmer point of view only. You have view from user point of view as well..

    I have most of my sites with compression. so it load so quickly then compititor.

    I am excited to see the changes in google ranking factor.

  • http://cdinsky.com Cdinsky

    Actually speed is a function of connection AND site scripting.

    So if you have a fleshy flashy site, only OC3ers might stay. Perhaps that’s the crowd you want to cater to rather than the dial up crowd. Or not.

  • Guest

    Speed is already a factor. Slow loading pages cause SE bots to not efficiently crawl your site.

  • http://www.techpin.com tici

    In my opinion, this is ridiculous!

  • http://www.link-assistant.com/ Richard

    Whether you like it or not as soon as Google changes the rule you need to adjust to them. Here’s how you can get ready for the new ranking algo. Test your website speed and compare it against the top ten competing websites http://www.link-assistant.com/news/check-site-speed.html

  • http://www.louishalpern.com Louis Halpern

    I thinks it’s a good idea. Load speed is an important usability factor.

  • http://www.thomascook.be/Community.aspx Koen Verbrugge

    If I see what people came to expect from Travel sites, More than 3 sec and most people are gone. The longer they wait the more frustrations, even to that degree that people quit buying in the offline counterparts due to a frustrating website (#phocuswright).

    If that’s the case than google is actually saving the companies with bad websites.. Scoring less they won’t get exposed as fast..

  • http://davidlawton.com David Lawton

    My concern is that people will scrape other peoples sites and then just make them load faster, will they get the traffic from google for that content?

  • http://www.azhariqbal.com SEO Dubai, UK, USA

    I think many websites will be going low. It’s a good decision in the end.

  • Tzvika Harel

    I Agree with both cormac and Chris and i just wanted to remind us all that site load time is only one factor among many so, let’s not get too scared for that! The main factors remain the same:
    Great related content that reflects on the visitors’ query along with up-to-date site architecture, eye-catching wevb design and let’s not forget usability…

  • https://www.banknorwegian.no Lan Skarven

    I love the fact that they actually give us some warning, and another way to push the “need for speed” through the organization. Don’t agree with everything they do, but this is a good starter. Might be even better if they told what kind of speed you need to be considered “fast” (is it 1.5 as in webmaster tools?) and therefore give the organizations a goal to work for…

    Regards

  • http://www.bangaloreforex.com Matt

    I think this is a truly great thing. Finally people who are uploading fast loading sites on dedicated servers will be rewarded for their work.

  • Makx

    The Chrome Speed Tracer Tool is about the electronic page and its caching behaviour in the …. Chrome … browser.

    It is not about anything else, like the speed of the page delivery in the Chrome browser, in relation to its hosting company.

    It is yet another nicety of Google. For developers and internet marketeers it is hardly interesting.

  • http://webserfing.com WebSerfer

    *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.* It will be important in the future, but not now. If information is very large, I agree then, but in other case – its does not matter!

  • Makx

    Faster browser loading websites with excellent content achieve better traffic. This has been a fact all along. Adding SE bonus to such sites is definitely a plus, yes.

  • http://www.simplybodylanguage.com Marjan

    As I understand it, Google is employing 200+ factors in determining how to rank web pages. Many of these factors are about measuring visitor actions as they come to a site, click on links, and leave again. If visitor experience is influenced positively when content is delivered with great speed (and I think it is), then this should show in the actions taken, and should help rankings of speedy sites as well.

    Right now. Not in 2010.

    Besides, speeding up your website is a good idea to do for your visitors. Don’t do things ‘just’ for the Search Engines!

    Have a great 2010!

  • http://www.computerizedspirit.com Guest

    And what about the other side of the coin? It’s not only about how soon your pages are loading, it’s also about hosting! People with money will be able to upgrade their hosting, and will get probably a fast dedicated server. Others though, that are hosting on overloaded shared hosting will bite the dust. In little words – if you can afford faster hosting – great for you – we will reward you with better ranking etc, as for the silly suckers that are trying to play the webmaster game with not enough cash – even though you upgrade your pages, if your host is slow, or down – bite the dust…
    Yet again – Google the King of the Internet Universe is dictating the low around…

  • http://www.pr-interactive.com florida web design company

    although I think page load time should be a factor. there are many great websites that take a bit longer to load becuase of rich media content and graphics. I think these guys are the ground breakers and should be rewarded not punished.

  • http://www.paperdistribution.ro papetarie

    Here you are right, and I would choose the whole site load faster but generally matters a lot and their contents, value, information, services and products that a site offers me.

  • http://www.zadling.com Zadling

    Speed should definitely be a factor, but I also think it’s good to “dress a site up” which will cause slower load times. Rather than dumbing down websites, the focus should be making the internet faster which I’m glad the FCC is working on with the private sector.

  • http://webtom.me Tom Ly Web

    Thanks for this valuable information, I think page loading speed will get a REALLY IMPORTANT factor. Think about the impending explosion of mobile web requests by smart phones. If speed is not acceptable, people won’t visit the site again => drop rankings sooner or later.

    At JoomlArt.com we are testing the new google pagespeed module for Apache and found out that our site is already very well optimized and this module is not helping much for optimized sites.

    Use it if you don’t know how to get your code optimized, leave it and avoid any hassle if you follow all the optimization best practices.

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