On the official Google blog, the latest post discusses how Google is incorporating site speed as one of the over 200 signals that they use in determining search rankings. Site speed reflects how quickly a website responds to web requests. Google first mentioned in a blog post in December, that a change was coming down the line.
On the blog they say that “while site speed is a new signal, it doesn’t carry as much weight as the relevance of a page” and at the moment, “fewer than 1% of search queries are affected by the site speed signal”. 1% of all Google searches would still be a huge number of sites though.
Apart from optimizing your site for Google, the main reason you should do it is to improve the experience for your visitors. As broadband speeds get faster, it’s easy to forget about the people who may still be trawling the web on slow connections. Nobody likes waiting for sites to load so when designing your site it’s a good idea to think about how fast (or slowly) your site loads.
There are a number of free tools that designers can use to check the speed of your site.
- Page Speed is an open source Firefox/Firebug add-on, Webmasters who run Page Speed on their pages get a set of scores for each page, as well as suggestions on how to improve its performance.
- YSlow analyzes web pages and suggests ways to improve their performance. It’s a Firefox add-on integrated with the Firebug web development tool.
- WebPagetest provides a comparison against an optimization checklist and a waterfall of your page load performance
- Webmaster Tools Site Performance shows the speed of your website as experienced by users around the world.
What do you think about this change from Google? Have you tried these or other tools to check and improve your site speed?