Google begins using site speed as one of the 200-plus signals the search engine uses to decide search rankings. Site speed reflects how quickly a Website responds to Web requests. Google's Matt Cutts suggests tools Website publishers can use to check site speed and claimed the change won't necessarily help larger Websites who pay more for Web hosting. Small sites, he said, can respond faster than large companies to changes on the Web because they don't have to worry about big company bureaucracy.
Google April 9 confirmed what it hinted at last year when it began using
site speed as one of the 200-plus signals the search engine uses to decide
Site speed reflects how quickly a Website responds to Web requests. Over the
last decade or so, Google has made speed the No. 1 criteria in rendering search
results for users.
To gauge their Website's speed, Website publishers, Webmasters or Web
authors can use Google's Site Performance tool in Webmaster Labs
, an open-source Firefox/Firebug add-on that evaluates the
performance of Web pages; YSlow
, a free Yahoo tool that suggests ways to improve Website
speed; and WebPagetest
"Faster sites create happy users, and we've seen in our internal
studies that when a site responds slowly, visitors spend less time there,"
wrote Google Fellow Amit Singhal, and Matt Cutts, principal engineer for
Google's search quality team, in a blog post
"But faster sites don't just improve user experience; recent data shows
that improving site speed also reduces operating costs. Like us, our users
place a lot of value in speed-that's why we've decided to take site speed into
account in our search rankings."
Singhal and Cutts noted that Website speed does not carry as much weight as
page relevance and less than 1 percent of English search queries in the United
States are affected by site speed. Moreover,
the changes were made a few weeks ago, and Website owners would have noticed
the change already if there were an impact.
Cutts on his blog April 9 attempted to
smaller Web publishers who fear their Websites may be too slow to
curry favor with Google's ranking algorithm.
"Don't panic. We mentioned site speed as early as last year, and you
can watch this video from February where I pointed out that we still put much
more weight on factors like relevance, topicality, reputation, value-add, etc.-all
the factors that you probably think about all the time. Compared to those
signals, site speed will carry much less weight."
Cutts also claimed the change won't necessarily help larger Websites who pay
more for Web hosting, noting that small sites can respond faster than large
companies to changes on the Web because they don't have to worry about big
He also urged search engine optimizers (SEOs) to embrace speeding up their
Websites to boost conversion rates.
Site speed certainly dovetails with Google's arguments for network
neutrality and against big ISP or network operators who can speed or slow data
on their pipes at their leisure.
Comcast recently scored a major victory when a court said the Federal Communications Commission could not tell ISPs
manage their networks.
Google fears this control will impact how its users' access their services,
which is why the company is testing broadband networks
to see if it can improve on the
current user experience and perhaps spur carriers to speed up their own