It’s Official, Google Is Using Site Speed To Rank Your Site

The Official Google Webmaster Blog announced on Friday that Google are using the loading time of your sites as a ranking factor. It’s been rumoured for some time, especially when Google announced Google Page Speed and integrated their findings into Google Webmaster Tools, but now we have confirmation from the big G itself. Google are playing down it’s impact saying:

Currently, fewer than 1% of search queries are affected by the site speed signal in our implementation and the signal for site speed only applies for visitors searching in English on Google.com at this point. We launched this change a few weeks back after rigorous testing. If you haven’t seen much change to your site rankings, then this site speed change possibly did not impact your site.

Even so 1% of sites on a competitive query that returns 750,000,000 results is still 750,000 results. I’m sure everyone would like to rank 750,000 places higher and a few simple optimization tricks can help.

5 simple tricks to speed up load times

1) Optimize your images for the web. Back when we were all on dial-up modems this practise was the norm but it has fallen by the wayside as we switched to big fat broadband connections. With the increase in mobile Internet use, optimised images are again in demand. Most image editing programs have a “save for web” feature that will walk you through the image optimisation process.

2) Reduce code bloat. Cut out some of the bells and whistles on your site if they don’t add to the user experience. Chances are they are just slowing your site down for no benefit. Compress javascript and CSS files where possible. Valid, accessible, html code loads far faster than bloated table-dependent code.

3) Use a fast, reliable hosting company. At Denial Design we have optimised our hosting environment to give the fastest response times we can to user requests. We’ve enabled on the fly compression of various file types to improve loading speeds. Most sites we host have seen a 10 – 15% decrease in load times due to the optimisation of the servers, and all for just £65 a year per site.

4) Avoid “hotlinking” to images. Not only does it earn you the wrath of the original host but it increases load times as extra DNS requests are needed to find the site you’ve linked the image from.

5) Avoid dead links. Make sure every image, css file and javascript file you link to is present and correct. Load times suffer as the browser twiddles it thumbs waiting for the server to find a file you’ve linked to that doesn’t actually exist. Use Xenu Link Sleuth to check your site for dead links.

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