How Site Speed Affects Google Search Ranking

After at least a year of public discussion, Google officially announced that site speed – roughly defined as page load time – is a part of Google’s search algorithm. Our clients are already asking us how this change will affect their search ranking, and whether it’s something they should pay attention to.

The answer to the first question is easy – in the short term, it will affect your search ranking very little. On his personal blog, Google’s Matt Cutts has been very clear about site speed’s impact on search rankings, saying that “fewer than 1% of search queries will change as a result of incorporating site speed into our ranking.” Far more important are page content relevance, site reputation and other high-impact search factors. But just because it’s a low priority item now, doesn’t mean it will be low down the road.

Should you choose to measure your site’s speed, we recommend doing so on a per-page basis using a free tool such as Google’s page speed tool . If your site score seems low (70s-80s), take heart. Here are index page speeds from some of the world’s most popular Web sites according to Google’s page speed tool.

CNN.com – 67/100
Salesforce.com – 76/100
WebProNews – 77/100
Espn.com – 82/100
Facebook.com – 85/100
YouTube.com – 85/100

The answer to the second question really depends what where you are in your overall SEO program. Since site speed is actually measurable, it’s an attractive item to tackle and improve upon. However, you should only do so if you’ve already covered many more of the high-impact SEO items.

There are also plenty of non-SEO-related reasons to improve site speed. It seems clear that Web users like faster Web experiences. A faster experience may increase the likability of your Web site, and in some small way, encourage more Web conversions. Also, remember that
If you choose to tackle Web speed, commonly needed areas of improvement involve combining external Javascript, minimizing DNS lookups and specifying page image dimensions.

If you didn’t see Matt Cutt’s video blog on the matter back in February, now might be a good time to revisit it:

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