April 26, 2011

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Rev Up Your Website

It’s now official: website speed matters, particularly if you’re concerned with where you rank in Google’s search results.

In a blog post last Friday, Google Fellow Amit Singhal and Matt Cutts, Principal Engineer of Google’s Search Quality Team, explained that website speed is now included in Google’s search ranking algorithms.

“Speeding up websites is important — not just to site owners, but to all Internet users,” the post explains. “Faster sites create happy users and we’ve seen in our internal studies that when a site responds slowly, visitors spend less time there.”

This research, which looked at how users responded to delays on Google itself, shows just how easily potential customers can be thrown off by a slow website. Google explains:

“All other things being equal, more usage, as measured by number of searches, reflects more satisfied users. Our experiments demonstrate that slowing down the search results page by 100 to 400 milliseconds has a measurable impact on the number of searches per user of -0.2% to -0.6% (averaged over four or six weeks depending on the experiment). That’s 0.2% to 0.6% fewer searches for changes under half a second!”

So even if you’re not particularly worried about where you rank in Google search results, this new emphasis on speed might prompt you to double check how your website is performing. But how do you go about doing this?

Anticipating this question, Google have come up with suggestions of free tools you can use to evaluate and improve your website’s speed, including their own Page Speed, YSlow from Yahoo!, and WebPagetest.

Most web users would agree that website speed is important, but if you’re worried that this new addition to Google’s algorithms is going to relegate your website to page 10, don’t be. Google’s blog post emphasises that less than 1 percent of search queries are affected by the site speed signal, and that it only applies for visitors searching in English on google.com at the moment. “If you haven’t seen much change to your site rankings, then this site speed change possibly did not impact your site,” Google says.


Related posts:

  1. Google’s Latest Releases Part 2: Personalised Results
  2. Back to Basics: What is SEO?
  3. Using Google Keywords for More Traffic
  4. Google in 2010: What Changed, What Didn’t
  5. Google Instant: What Does It Mean for Marketers?
  6. Website Spotlight: thatinterviewguy.com
  7. Finding the Fold with Google
  8. On-Site Tips for SEO: Part 2
  9. Google’s +1 Changing the SEO Game?
  10. On-Site Tips for SEO: Part 1

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