Will Page Load Time Be More Of A Ranking Factor In 2011?

Jan 20, 2011 • 8:15 am | comments (12) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization
 

Speed matters a lot. According to Google that is, but how fast does a page need to load to be beneficial to your search engine rankings? When does speed really become a factor in my day to day running of a website?

Maybe its when it starts to impact your rankings. Recently, some webmasters in a thread on WebmasterWorld are wondering about the effect of page load time on their rankings. Some are providing examples of when they add very image heavy ads, its slows down the pages and also slows impressions and traffic to the website. The webmaster is wondering if this is a result of his website pages loading slow because of the ad.

Correlation? I think not, and so do some of the other members. It has more to do with obnoxious ads being placed and the bounce rate increasing dramatically. People don't like annoying ads so they leave. However, that doesn't disqualify page load time as a ranking factor altogether. Tedster also commented on the thread and corrected a users perception of how Google determines you page speed.

Page load time is mostly NOT determined by googlebot - the core data comes from real visits by browsers using the Google toolbar.

As a potential organic ranking factor in 2011, webmasters in general seem to be catching on to the realization that page load time might be influencing more than their bottom-line. Since the 2009 announcement of page load time being a factor, on-page ranking factors have grown more in importance. I have seen this in my own work, and it's been discussed quite a bit at popular conferences. Popular consensus of this on-page factor suggests that page load time may very slightly (if at all) help rankings when increasing the speed of a page dramatically. Often times this means taking a very slow page and increasing it from say 8-10 to 2 seconds. Or if your website is so slow it reminds you of the day when you used a dial up internet connection. Secondly from an SEO perspective, page speed is also about increasing conversions, not necessarily rankings. Page speed can have positive correlations for many things. So for 2011, it is worth looking into.

Continued discussion at WebmasterWorld

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Comments:

seogabs

01/20/2011 01:20 pm

if (has googletoolbar) { show mobile site } else {show normal site} grrrrrr I had a bit of a moan about this on twitter yesterday ask gbot for my main site high in down is 500 milseconds VS toolbar @ 5 seconds.. I can't help firefox being so slow.. grrrrr < / rant>

Michael Beckett

01/20/2011 02:27 pm

I've noticed on several sites that improving the page speed score improves rankings. Obviously the more points you improve by the more your rankings increase. It's by no means the be all and end all though but it certainly helps.

Chris Boggs

01/20/2011 02:39 pm

I have found that this directly correlates to the exact set of competitors, as has been said. you don;t have to be the fastest site on the net, but being/getting faster than the rest of your competitor set for a particular keyword gives boost.

Robert

01/20/2011 04:01 pm

I would certainly say that the load times of your site have a direct correlation with ranking. Perhaps with webmaster tools having a nice graph displaying the load speed of your site and Google releasing mod-pagespeed for Apache it would seem that Google is quite committed to page load times. I wrote a quick blog post on mod-pagespeed and I would be very grateful to hear anyones experience in using it - http://www.monicowebdesign.co.uk/computing/seo/google-aims-speed-mod-pagespeed/

Michael Martinez

01/20/2011 05:03 pm

Given the immense amount of concern over BufferBloat (and the still disturbing slow response times reported for Asia, Europe, and North America by the Internet Traffic Report), I must say that Google could not have picked a worse time to include page loading times in their ranking algorithms.

Ben Pfeiffer

01/20/2011 05:17 pm

I don't think so. Progress can be difficult at first, but like I mentioned in the article more "everyday" webmasters are catching on to page speed as a factor in the success of their business online and that to me is a positive step in the right direction for improving load times and overall user experience.

Joshua Bixby

01/20/2011 06:21 pm

Last fall, my company published a case study that illustrated that speeding up a site had a direct impact on organic search traffic. We used our Site Optimizer service to cut page load times in half at Everyday Health. After 90 days, we found that Googlebot was crawling about twice as many pages as it was able to do at the outset of the trial. Without making any other changes to the site, traffic from organic Google searches increased by 10%. The case study, including graphs, is here: http://www.strangeloopnetworks.com/customers/everyday-health-cuts-page-load-times-in-half-and-increases-search-traffic-by-10/

Dan Rogers

01/20/2011 07:17 pm

work on client side optimization?

Aaron Peters

01/21/2011 08:47 am

I can confirm this effect of speeding up your site is powerful and the effects should not be underestimated. If Googlebot can crawl your site a lot faster, more pages will be indexed and that can lead to substantial more traffic from Google organic results. SEO and Speed is not just about higher rankings, it's very much also about more pages in the index.

Frederic Peters

01/27/2011 03:29 am

Our pagespeed rank is around 99. Our competitor have 75 and are ranked better beecause they do spamdexing.

Peters Frederic

01/27/2011 03:33 am

Our pagespeed rank is around 99. Our competitor have 75 and are ranked better beecause they do spamdexing.

Peter

08/11/2011 05:37 pm

Page Load time is one of the 200 plus signals considered by Google to determine the search rankings.

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