Google Is Watching Your Website Speed - Are You?

Oct 19


Simon Byholm

Simon Byholm

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Old Google has been watching your website load speed and now they are also altering your search engine rankings based on how quickly your page loads. Find out how to load fast enough to avoid penalties.


After Google began using website speed as a component of their ranking algorithms every webmaster has a good reason to keep an eye on the page load speed of their websites. The fact that Google went out of its way to tell us about this new parameter is telling in itself since Google will not usually publicize new parameters in its successful algorithm.

From the announcement we learn that the speed penalty was introduced following experiments by Google that revealed the impact website speed has on Internet users..

But the results of the experiment comes as no surprise even for someone that has started to use the Internet recently - users prefer websites that load faster and tend to spend more time on such websites.

However,Google Is Watching Your Website Speed - Are You? Articles the search engine giant has been careful to state that even though speed is now a factor it is not the primary parameter for ranking results. Content quality and relevance are still the most important factors but slow loading webpages can give your website a Google penalty with lower rank as a result.

This implies that it is important for you as a webmaster to start to assess the speed of your website to establish whether you could be moving further down the search engine results pages (SERPs) because your website is slower than your direct competitors.

Is Google Timing My Pages?

But first, it is vital that one understand the basics of how Google's algorithm determines your website speed and thus your SERP ranking. The search engine uses two main factors when it comes to speed assessment.

Your website get more speed points if it responds fast to Googlebot. Google uses a software called Googlebot to find and index websites.

Second, your website will also receive a good speed ranking if it records a faster loading time on Google Toolbar than your competition. Google wan't to help you check your website speed and has kindly added a page speed report to webmaster tools, it can be found inthe 'lab' section.

The tool and the reports can be used to compare your websites page load times to that of other websites. Once you are armed with the information of where you page ranks in the speed hierarchy, you can start to make the necessary code and structure changes to make it respond faster.

You first priority should be to make sure you have no SLOW pages on your site. Pages that take two seconds or more to load and pages that are marked as SLOW in the Google Webmaster Tools need to be improved to avoid a Google penalty for your website speed.

Then when you have made sure to improve all slow pages go on to make all of your pages load in one seconds or less. Read on to see why this is important.

A quick loading website is not only better search engine rankings and avoiding the Google speed penalty, there's additional benefits.

A website optimized for speed reduces the bandwidth required on your hosting service thus reducing your overall hosting costs.

Faster websites also give a better browsing experience as users are able to get information faster as they can navigate through your website easily.

Remember that a faster web site works better on PDAs, mobile phones and other handheld devices. These devices don't have the same processing power as your standard PC and will benefit from a quickloading and lean web page.

Even though you can have a mobile version of your website, usually this comes with trimmed down graphics and other aspects of your site. Some users will want to view your site in full HTML on their phone or PDA and a faster loading website will have better chances of successfully loading on such devices.

As a webmaster, there are a number of free tools that you can use to increase the loading speed of your website. I have listed three of the more popular ones below:

Page Speed

Page Speed is an open sourced plug-in for Mozilla. It tests the speed of your website and then suggests changes to improve website performance.

Page Speed runs tests on the architectural configuration of both your web server and your website's front end code. After running these tests, it gives you a report on your website speed and suggestions on how to improve the speed of your website.


Yslow is a free software from Yahoo. It measures the performance of your web site and gives you suggestions on how to improve the speed of your website.

Yslow is a Firefox add-on and is integrated with the Firebug software for website development. It shows you statistics and a report. It also gives you suggestions on how best to improve the speeds of your website using best practices.

Yslow comes with a couple of other tools for performance tuning, including Smush.Use it and JSLint to further enhance your website performance. Even though it is a Yahoo product, Yslow can help you avoid the Google penalty on website speed.


SSEL Speed Test

The website speed check at Secret Search Engine Labs will analyze how fast a page on your site is loading and give you tips on how to improve it.

The Website Speed Quick Fix

There are several factors that affects page load speeds on your website, many of them technical and best solved by your webmaster or developer.

There's still some changes you can make yourself to improve page load speeds as long as you have a little experience with HTML and making web pages.

Reduce the amount of images, animations, flash and audio. Then reduce the size and quality of images and audio to a level suitable for the web. Make the page shorter by splitting long pages into several shorter. Remove redundant HTML, CSS and Javascript code from the page source code. Don't hot link to images and javascript on other domains, but instead keep a copy of it on your own server.

And remember to keep an eye on the Google Webmaster Tools to see how your site compares to your competitors.

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