In a recent interview Matt Cutts, a Google software engineer and frequent spokesperson, revealed that Google is considering using the speed which a website loads in its search algorithms. By 2010 is seems likely that slower sites will be pushed further down the results page in favor of quicker ones. In the interview with WebPro Matt stated that “We’re starting to think more and more about should speed be a factor in Google’s rankings.”
Matt went on to say that:
“A lot of people within Google think that the web should be fast, it should be a good experience; and so it’s sort of fair to say if you’re a fast site, maybe you should get a little bit of a bonus. Or maybe if you have a really awfully slow site, users don’t want that as much.”
In many regards, the importance of speed is not a brand new concept at Google. Page load time currently a factor in the AdWords quality score. Some, like .net editor Dan Oliver suspect that speed is already a factor. He points to a recent statement by Google’s communication and public affairs department to .net magazine where they said “all other things being equal, it’s fair to say that a speedy site will rank better.”
Other indications that Google has speed on their mind include the June release of Page Speed. This open-source Firefox/Firebug Add-on allows websites to evaluate the performance of their web pages and to get suggestions on how to improve performance. These tests are based on a set of best practices known to enhance web page performance.
For bloggers and other small web site owners this might not be the best news as most blogs are hosted on free to relatively inexpensive servers. A hosted blog is probably can going to deliver the same response time as that of a large web site which has been able to afford and implement caching, web acceleration or loadsharing technology.
Besides blogs this might have a big impact on local search. For example, over the last few years Google has refined it’s search so when I type in a specific business name instead of seeing a list of portal or directory sites, one of the top sites is the actual website for that small business. With most local businesses having small sites that are not optimized for speed – we could return to the days of portal heavy searches.
At this point it’s all conjecture – but small business sites and blog owners might want to examine their current website performance before renewing for another year of service.