Google’s been banging on about page speed for a while now and anyone interested in getting decent rankings has been making sure their sites are zipping along nicely. It’s not just for Google that it’s worth making sure your site is fast, it’s because people in today’s ‘I want it now!’ world get bored if they have to wait for huge images to download. Yeah, any more than three seconds and I’m off. I’ve got stuff to do.
Matt Cutts said that although page speed was an influence on ranking, it only affects a very small number of searches and although some Internet Marketing sharks kept trying to sell us products to shave microseconds off the loading time to get better rankings, we knew this was mostly baloney. We knew in our heart of hearts that only really slow sites would get spanked. Time moves on, however.
A Visual Warning That Your Site Is Tardy?
Well, it turns out things may be about to change. As reported on Search Engine Land, it seems Google is testing putting big red marks to slow sites:
Holy Kaw! (I think that’s the phrase).
Let’s not panic yet, but this is actually quite significant. If Google’s testing this then we can assume they are taking the page speed thing seriously, but there’s a flip side – what if the red mark attracts people to click?
You can bet your house that they’re going to be testing this to death and finding ways to indicate that a site is slow without attracting clicks like moths to a flame. Can you imagine if that happened? We’d all be uploading massive gifs onto our home pages.
They experimented with authorship and decided it did nothing to help so there’s every chance this will go the same way, but it’s a timely reminder that page speed is an important factor that you should take notice of.
How to Check Page Speed
Luckily, as well as telling you to have a speedy site, Google has some tools to help you achieve it. If you head on over to https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights you can pop your website in to the tool that appears and not only will it tell you your current speed, it will explain how to make it faster.
Is It Worth Doing?
Yes. But not for Google.
It’s going to be a long time before Google really starts hammering websites. Also, they’re probably only going to be going after sites that are really slow. If your site takes over ten seconds to load, consistently (i.e. it’s not just a temporary network glitch) then you’re probably going to see other, faster sites rise above you in the search results. But even that’s not a reason for speeding up your site.
No, you should speed up your site to help your users. They don’t want to be waiting around while your latest opus of a post opens up. They don’t want to be downloading huge files just so they can get to the juicy bit of content – they want it now. Ignore what Google wants, the faster your website is, the more likely people are to share it.
Do it for them and they will reward you by coming back, and that’s always a good reason.