It’s official: your website speed is now a ranking factor in Google’s algorithm

published on April 14, 2010 in SEO & PPC

Fast websites rewarded with better Google rankings.

Back in November 2009, Matt Cutts, currently heading Google’s Webspam team, hinted that speed could be taken into consideration when they assess a site.

Well, it’s now official: website speed has become one of the 200+ factors Google uses when ranking websites on their result pages. Matt Cutts discuss this on his blog in a bit more details.

What you need to know:

  1. website speed is a very low impact ranking factor and it is unlikely to ever be more important than other factors such as relevancy, reputation or even page titles or links;

  2. it currently only affects very few search queries, although we can anticipate it becoming a permanent feature for all searches during 2010;

  3. website speed can be improved by taking some simple steps.

How to check your website speed

The easiest way to see how fast Google thinks your website is, is to sign up for their Webmaster Tools. In the left column, once logged in, click on Labs > Site performance. The graph displayed on that page shows how long it takes for your pages to load and should be followed by suggestions on how to reduce that loading time.

Google Site Performance

You can also use third-party websites like Web Page Test and Website Optimization or Firefox plugins like YSlow or Google Page Speed to find out how to speed up your site. Note: you will need to install the Firebug extension to run both YSlow and Google Page Speed.

How to improve your website speed

Each tool gives sets of recommendations that usually fall into one the following categories:

  • server file compression: to make text and images smaller and make their transfer from server to browser faster;
  • file caching: to reduce the number of requests sent to your server and allowing browser to cache more files for longer;
  • combining and minifying files: to further reduce file size and make them faster to download.

The first two are settings that are enabled on the server, while the third is manual file editing.

Tune in this Friday for an article showing you exactly what to do to make your website faster server-side using gzip or mod_deflate and file caching.


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Dave Doolin April 16, 2010 at 4:38 pm

Looking forward to the next articles. This is a big topic!


netaccountant April 17, 2010 at 11:01 am

It is, although for SEO only purposes it shouldn’t be :)


Pat June 15, 2010 at 1:01 pm

I have seen where google is actually taking website speed into consideration. I have seen sites at the top of the SERP’s that are very slow to load and yet, they are still listed and this is on VERY competitive terms – not long tail words. Maybe google is still busy with the other criteria of the Caffeine changes to activate that parameter?


netaccountant June 30, 2010 at 10:47 am

Pat, relevancy, history, trust and links are all more important than speed, and they are likely to remain more important for years to come. Speed is only one teeny tiny factor :).


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