It may have taken a few months to implement, but Google have kept their word and made site speed an official ranking factor in Google algorithm.
Google made the official announcement on Friday in a blog post. Although a new ranking factor is always big news, webmaster shouldn’t worry too much about the speed of their site as it apparently won’t hold too much weight. Google’s Matt Cutts and Amit Singhal explain more:
While site speed is a new signal, it doesn’t carry as much weight as the relevance of a page. 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.
There are two ways in which Google will measure page speed – firstly, how a page responds to Googlebot and the site load time as measured by the Google Toolbar.
In light of this new factor, it might pay to check the speed of your site. There are a number of tools to do this, including Google’s suggestions:
- Page Speed, an open source Firefox/Firebug add-on that evaluates the performance of web pages and gives suggestions for improvement.
- 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.
- In Webmaster Tools, Labs > Site Performance shows the speed of your website as experienced by users around the world.
- Many other tools on code.google.com/speed.
Google says that this factor has been in place for a few weeks now, so have you noticed any change in your website ranking? Feel free to share your thoughts below.