Page Load Speed is Now a Google Ranking Factor

According to a statement from a Google Fellow, Amit Singhal and Search Quality Team member Matt Cutts, the speed at which your web pages load is now a factor in Google’s ranking algorithm. After hinting at it over the past year, it was really only a matter of when Google would flip the switch, not if.

A blog post on the official Google Webmaster Central blog confirms the newest factor added to the (over 200 factor) Google Ranking algorithm. Read on for what you should be doing.

Back in December, I posted page load speed as the most probable addition to the Google ranking algorithm. I detailed a few things you should be doing to prepare. To recap:

  • Head to Webmaster Central and see how your site stacks up. The report is called “Site Performance” and can be found in the “Labs” section
  • Follow recommendations from Google. Some common fixes include enabling gzip compression, minimizing DNS lookups, and combining JavaScript and CSS files
  • Download YSlow for Firefox and put your site through the test
  • Start saving for a faster host and content management system!

In addition, Google’s Webmaster Central blog post recommends a few other tools you might find useful.

Slow Site? Don’t Panic!

If after running some of these tools you find that your site is under-performing, don’t panic! According to Matt Cutts:

“Quality should still be the first and foremost concern [for site owners],” Cutts says. “This change affects outliers; we estimate that fewer than 1% of queries will be impacted. If you’re the best resource, you’ll probably still come up.”

In fact, page speed has been a factor for a few weeks now, so if you haven’t noticed a traffic decrease for your site, then you may not be affected.

Remember, however, that conversion is affected by page load speed! So if you’ve been considering re-platforming, switching servers, or anything else to increase your site’s performance, maybe this is the time to take that step.

In completely unrelated news: The Groove Commerce website is pretty speedy isn’t it?! Want a free quote?

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