Slow Sites to Be Penalized in Google?

This article was originally written for ArrowQuick Solutions, a technology consultancy for small businesses.

Posted on December 1, 2009

Matt Cuts, Google software engineer and spokesman for their search engine, recently hinted that a website’s loading time may affect its search rankings.

Although Matt didn’t provide any details, he did say there was a lot of discussion inside Google and internal lobbying for giving fast sites a bonus to their rankings, or for penalizing slow sites. If your business relies on search engine traffic, then a change to Google’s algorithms could dramatically affect your sales. His remarks have certainly gotten search engine optimization (SEO) experts talking.

Historically, Google has never considered site speed, and I don’t know any major search engine that does. I wouldn’t be surprised if they added it to their algorithms though, even if it is just a small part of the hundreds of factors that are considered when ranking a site. Google has made it clear that they envision the web as its own fully-realized operating system, so any slowdowns there would be a major no-no.

As the 800-pound gorilla in the industry, any changes Google makes to their algorithm would probably spur other search engines (Bing, Yahoo) to follow suit. This could lead to the end of bloated and sloppily-created websites.

Of course, you don’t have to optimize your site simply for your search engine rankings — everyone who visits your site is affected. The longer it takes for your site to load, the more likely customers will leave.

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