Following Google’s announcement that page load speed will be factored into the ranking algorithm in 2010 they have now introduced a site performance section in the labs at webmaster central – by doing so they are pretty much confirming that this is an important factor (not the most important by a long shot) and that you should look to reduce your load time.
When you go to the Site Performance section of Labs, you are greeted with some info on your current load time and how it’s performed over time:
This lets us know that our site takes 3.2 seconds to load, this would appear to be as near to average as we could get with 54% of sites being faster than ours – interestingly only in August for a small time did our site load in a time that Google considered to be fast.
So what can you do to make your site faster?
Well first of all, if you don’t use Webmaster Tools, you should – then if you use Firefox (and if you don’t, you should) you can install the following add ons:
Both tools will give you a good break down of everything you need to address to make your page faster. Amusingly, I am told the Google Analytics script could be minified to speed up the site (only by 0.2% but still, a certain amount of irony to be had there).
With 9 areas highlighted by Google Speed and just a grade C from YSlow, there’s plenty for me to get my teeth stuck into if I’m to optimise site performance – don’t get too obsessed by it though and don’t be surprised to see slow sites outrank fast ones because this will not be the most important ranking factor. It would though be interesting to see if getting your site up to speed does actually coincide with a ranking boost.