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.
What you need to know:
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;
it currently only affects very few search queries, although we can anticipate it becoming a permanent feature for all searches during 2010;
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.
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.