It is official – page speed matters for SEO

It has long been suspected that web pages which load faster will generally be more successful with their users, but now it has officially been announced as a factor in Google’s ranking algorithm.

Who Wants to Wait, Anyway?

And its about time, I’d say!  Its incredibly frustrating to visit a site just to wait and wait for every component to load from multiple domains.  If Google is less likely to send me to a slow site then their results are definitely getting better over time.

Further, this means we can definitely write off any of the forums and bookmarking sites that seem to provide good links – as long as you’re patient enough to spend 5 or 10 minutes submitting one.  I’ve tried to avoid this particular source of frustration, but when you’re not completely sure it can be hard to avoid the temptation of what looks like an otherwise solid backlink. Really, no link is at its full potential unless real people are going to see it, and who is going to stick around for a slower bookmarking site when its half the speed of its generic & nearly identical competitors? Even for an easy shot at a PR 5 front page, it hardly seems to be worth the time waiting if Google is going to take that delay into account for evaluating the authority of the domain.

So don’t expect those slow PR5s to last much longer… We might even see some pagerank inflation for the smaller & speedier sites.

Why is it so slow anyway?

Of course, if you’re having consistent troubles with your website speed, it might just be time to upgrade your domains to a new hosting provider.  Just don’t go blaming your host off the bat, its been my experience that most sites are slow because the scripts are buggy or the scope of the database doesn’t match the intended capacity of a shared hosting plan.  Thousands of entries is one thing – and hundreds of thousands is something completely different,  especially if you’re not completely purging the deleted entries.

Too many plugins, out of date software, conflicting plugins arguing about which one gets to do the job – there are all kinds of ways for a webmaster to mess up a perfectly good content management system and gum up the works  🙂

Getting up to Speed

Anyway, if you want to check out some useful tools for analyzing page speeds, be sure to check out the blog from Google that I posted way back up at the top.  While they downplay the importance of this new metric (stating that only 1 in 100 domains is actually affected by the filter), site speed always has been and always will be one of the keys to providing an enjoyable user experience.

And really – user experience is still the primary factor in good SEO.  If you build a site that people enjoy visiting, you will get plenty of traffic and you will rank for just about any keywords and phrases you want to rank for.

Update: As soon as I hit submit on this post, my server crashed.  Now I’m re-writing the last two paragraphs.  I feel like an idiot, but I’m standing by my advice!

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