Website Speeds Now a Factor in Search Rankings

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

Posted on April 12, 2010

As I hinted back in December, Google has announced that they will now consider “site speed” when ranking pages in its search engine. Although speed plays a small part in overall ranking, especially compared to the content of the site, it is a factor now.

Obviously, a webpage’s “weight” — the total size of the page and its included images and resources — affects your site’s speed dramatically. Large images, many images, and multiple CSS/JS files all require more download time. I haven’t come across comments from the Google team about specific measurements, but I would imagine that other factors, like the response time of your web host, may also be important.

And as Google goes, so goes Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines. Google holds the largest market share by far, and traditionally these competitors have tried to mimic Google’s algorithms quite closely. I would expect this change to be commonplace sooner than later.

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. A survey taken last year by Strategy Analytics showed that only about 60% of US households have broadband, leaving the rest of us with slow, dial-up connections. Another thing to consider is the increasing prevalence of smartphones and other mobile devices, many of which operate over slower (and costlier) networks.

Luckily, site speed is quite an easy thing to optimize, if you put some time and money toward it.

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