Search engine optimisation has always been an attempt to understand the factors that search engines like use to determine search engine ranking, and then making sure that you perform well according to those criteria.
Because search engines are careful to keep their ranking formula confidential to prevent manipulation, this has traditionally been a process of experimentation to achieve the best possible results.
This year though, Google has been talking a lot about the issue of page speed. Even going so far as to say that it is likely that page speed will become a factor when it comes to selecting which websites rank higher for the relevant search terms.
(You can get more recent information about how website speed affects conversions in our article here, Website Speed And Conversions.)
In a recent interview with WebPro News, Google’s Matt Cutts spoke again about page speed, and said that the speed at which your web page loads may soon be a ranking factor when it comes to Google results.
Making The Web Faster
In the interview, he said, “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.”
Mr Cutts went on to say, “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.”
It seems likely, based on his comments, that page speed will beginning having at least some influence on search engine results by Google. And since a fast loading page is clearly a benefit to your visitors and clients anyway, it’s something that everybody should be trying to achieve.
According to a post on the official Google Research Blog made earlier this year, Google conducted testing to see what difference speed made to the way people make use of search engines in particular, and the internet in general.
According to their results, deliberately slowing down the speed at which results are provided resulted in users making between 0.2% and 0.6% fewer searches every day. And, they discovered, the effect was cumulative. Users exposed to a 400 millisecond delay made 0.22% fewer searches in the first 3 weeks of the experiment. By the end of the second 3 weeks though, they were making 0.76% fewer searches. And that was just with a delay of less than half a second.
And once the page speeds were returned to normal again, it still took several weeks for them to reach their original frequency of searches.
Although the numbers seem small, an impact of even 0.5% every day is quite significant when given the scale of searches Google experiences. In fact, it’s even quite significant given the scale of some individual websites.
In the past, Google has been pretty good about providing webmasters with the tools they need to make sure that their sites meet the most crucial requirements. And this time is no different. Visit Google’s Site Speed page to find out more about optimising your sites load speed.