So Now You Care About Your Website Load Times

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Google announced recently that site loading time now plays a part in their search ranking algorithm.  It has also been openly said that over 200 elements are taken into consideration when determining a sites search engine ranking.   In addition Google notes that site load time is going to be a very small portion of this algorithm.  With all that said I simply don’t understand why people are freaking out.  This should not be the first time you are considering improving your site load time.

If Your Website Is Slow – Fix It!

Site load time is very important however you shouldn’t be improving it for the search engines.  If your website takes longer than a couple seconds to load, you’re already in trouble.  Web users have very short attention spans, they want what they want and they want it now!  If one of these users’ clicks on your website and it takes longer than a couple seconds you bet they are going to bounce quicker than a super “bouncy” ball!

There shouldn’t be a webmaster that isn’t aware of their site load times.  Not only should they be doing user tests on their own site but they should have installed site analytics.  With that said, if your site is slow you can expect your traffic bounce rate to be extremely high.  Users don’t have patience for slow website and will often click back within only a few short seconds.   This is two ways to measure your sites loading time but if that’s not enough Google even made a tool for you to use.

How Do You Measure Site Load Time?

Back in January I wrote an article about site loading time being a possible 2010 ranking element. ( I write about how you can test your sites load times using Google webmaster tools.  Using their “Site Performance” option will give you an insight on how long a particular page is taking to load.  In addition Google gives you some specific tips on what to fix in order to increase the page loading performance.

In addition, Google suggests the following free tools to evaluate the speed of your website.

Fix Your Websites Performance For Your Users Not Google.

I can’t tell you how much it annoys me knowing that people will only now start fixing their websites load time.  You should be building a website that gives your users an enjoyable experience.  If your website is super slow then this issue should have been addressed a long time ago.  Its frustrating to hear people willing to fix their sites only after Google has released there latest ranking announcement.

Do Not Over Value Site Speed For SEO.

It’s really unfortunate that people are going to completely redesign their websites and spend countless hours in their code over this issue.  Now if you own one of the websites that takes 15 seconds to reach the homepage this should be something you’re already working on.  However, this is not who im talking about.  I’m talking about the webmasters who sites load in less then three seconds but will spend endless amounts of time tweaking code just so they can get down half a second.  At this point the difference between two seconds and one second will not make or break your search engine rankings.  Links and content will always be the bread and butter of SEO and it’s really disheartening to think people will waste so much time focusing on their site load time.

Nick Leroy

Nick Leroy

Nick LeRoy is an SEO Consultant at FindLaw a Thomson Reuters company. Nick offers SEO site audits to his clients in addition to his blog... Read Full Bio
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  • I knew that they'll put the Page speed as a ranking factor some day, so I kind of got in front of them, and optimized most of my pages beforehand. So now, I'm just gonna reap what I sow.

  • It's been a very long time i am telling my clients to have the lightest page possible for a better speed of display so it does not change much my habits. This announce by Google is a good thing for web hosting company cause i am sure they are going to see an increase of business with people upgrading their bandwidth capabilities

    • Jakepk

      80-90% of what slows down a web page happens at the frontend i.e. between the web server and the visitors browser. Only 10% happens at the backend i.e. on the web server, so souping up your hosting will have minimal impact on webpage speed. Speed gains happen when you optimize the frontend by taking measures such as reducing page size, http requests, smarter browser caching.

      In many ways it would be easier to only need to change host or upgrade hosting plan in order to make your web pages load faster, but thats not how it works and its not how you're going to make your website faster.

  • John S Cothill

    SEO X% Factor = Usability. Usability = SEO X% Factor. Simples.

  • I see what you're saying. Loadtimes should be a matter of usability and accessibility, and thus, one of the key priorities for any webmaster, not just SEO-ers. But perhaps this is Google's way of saying, “I know you may have not been able to find time in the past, but it's time to speed up your website.” For some webmasters, it just takes a little more encouragement to get their code up to speed.

  • daynejones

    Google will always make the web more user friendly… one step at a time.

  • I think if site took more time for load then it may not be the fault of your web host it can be the way the website is coded and it may be your images are too big or are there too many of them. This is often the main reason.

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  • I think this will improve search results. The best of this advice in my opinion is that site owners and webmasters will try to enhance their sites speed realizing that a faster web will be better for all to compliment our SEO efforts! Google's announcement of adding a page speed signal into its search rankings algorithm will in the long run help reduce user frustration with slow web sites.

  • Load time has and will always be a part of creating web sites. You just can't expect to load up a site with huge images and lots of javascrpt and Flash without understanding that it might take some time to load. So good for Google! Now let's get down to business of writing good code and optimizing.

  • The speed is important factor. Nobody wants to wait for slow a website to show up in the browser. Hopefully this will reduce user frustration with slow websites.

  • friendlyrob

    I'm surprised to read anything about Google letting us know any details of their site ranking.

  • i have recently heard about this..and that's a nice way google came up with…now user will not have to wait for the site to load..

  • I agree with you! Do not understand why people are starting to review their websites speed now and have not already done so. A funny thing I noticed is that Google's is MUCH faster now. 🙂

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  • Horrible user experience. Hopefully, Google going public with this, more site owners will make their sites a little more user friendly. Well, we all knew that this was coming and the support Google has given for “FireBug” is also key.

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  • I appreciate your insights and agree with your closing statements, Matt Cutts also noted on his blog that webmasters should not place too much on Google's inclusion of load times.

  • I appreciate your insights and agree with your closing statements, Matt Cutts also noted on his blog that webmasters should not place too much on Google's inclusion of load times.