Google Confirms: Site Speed Matters in Search Rankings

site speedWe should have seen this coming as back in November when Google launched the Site Performance Tool where site owners could check the speed of their site and how it rates by percentage to other sites.  At the time, when Google first announced the site performance tool, there was not  much insight as to what impact site speed mattered with respect to rankings.  It more peaked curiosity as to how fast is my site but then once you get the results it begs the question what is a good speed site speed? Not even thinking about if this would affect ranking, most were focused on if their site was fast. I know I did but then as December came, then January, etc site speed was a distant memory.  Thinking back, I guess we should have known that Google will not create a tool that does not have some impact upon rankings as what purpose would it serve?  Sure, with 200 different ranking factors and each being ranked differently, maybe site speed was a factor all along but all the signs were there that this was something new OR that that they were wanting to be new.

What is a good site speed?

I have searched pretty extensively and cannot find a solid answer so this has become the million dollar answer.  Bur for a smaller site, the faster the better.  Anyone with more information please chime in- Matt Cutts??

How Much Does Site Speed Matter?

Again, with 200 different ranking factors is this end the line number 199 or lucky number 21?  We do not know but what we can be confident about is that search engines have to match search queries with sites that contain those keywords. So, content remains the predominant factor. But what happens if 2 sites have the same keywords, great content and one is faster – seems like they will rank better.

According to Search Engine Land:

“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.”

Singhal says the focus remains on improving the user experience on Google.com, and the company can’t do that if it gets the relevance of search results wrong. “We want to return faster sites,” he says, “but not at the expense of relevance.”

How to Determine Your Site Speed:

The Site Performance Tool is located in Google Webmaster Tools.

1. Log into your accout (you must have an account and verified your site before you are able to determine your site speed).

2. You are directed to the Home page. Click on your site url and you are directed to your dashboard.

3. On the left side, click on Labs

4. Click on Site Performance

Once your site is analyzed it does prompt you to install Page Speed for Firefox which evaluates performance of your pages and provides some suggestions on how to improve them.

site performance tool

photo credit: Google Webmaster Tools Blog

Google has also suggested some additional tools to improve your site speed.

  • YSlow, a free tool from Yahoo! that suggests ways to improve website speed.
  • WebPagetest shows a waterfall view of your pages’ load performance plus an optimization checklist.

Another option for WordPress users is to install the W3 Total Cache which “improves the user experience of your blog by improving your server performance, caching every aspect of your site, reducing the download time of your theme and providing transparent content delivery network (CDN) integration.”

While this change in site speed as mattering in rankings may ruffle feathers of some webmasters, this was launched a few weeks back so, if you have not lost any rankings, you probably have not been affected at all.  Actually, less than 1% of search queries are affected by site speed which incidentally only applies to visitors searching in English on Google.com. (although if your site is in English, one would think that a good amount of your visitors are searching in English and since Google has 70% of the search, that they are using Google).

It is absolutely worth looking into and fixing any red flags as the faster your site, the happier your visitors are.  Happy visitors are return visitors especially when you consider the visitors to your site.

Have you noticed any changes in your rankings?

photo credit: Stig Nygaard