I recently wrote the article “Why Page Weight Still Matters”. My concern is that the broadband revolution has caused some developers to forget efficiency and file optimization. An increasing number of sites have pages which approach several megabytes in size, yet some emerging markets only support low-bandwidth connections.
Have you addressed a page weight problem on your site? If you didn’t heed my warning, perhaps you’ll take notice of the bombshell Jen recently dropped: page weight now affects your Google search engine position!
Google now considers the time it takes your website to load. Fatter pages result in slower downloads — and site speed is a factor which affects your page rank. According to the Google blog:
Speeding up websites is important — not just to site owners, but to all Internet users. Faster sites create happy users and we’ve seen in our internal studies that when a site responds slowly, visitors spend less time there. But faster sites don’t just improve user experience; recent data shows that improving site speed also reduces operating costs. Like us, our users place a lot of value in speed — that’s why we’ve decided to take site speed into account in our search rankings.
Take a deep breath and don’t panic. Google’s site speed algorithms have been running for several weeks. If you haven’t noticed a change in your search position, your site is probably fine. For now.
Site speed carries far less (mathematical) weight than other factors such as relevancy, topicality, and reputation. Google estimate that fewer than 1% of queries will change as a result of the new algorithms. However, a simple fact remains: your competitors may achieve a higher position if their pages are leaner than yours.
See also: 9 Causes of Web Page Obesity.
Are Google right to consider page weight and site speed in their algorithms? Will it have an impact your website? Are you taking steps to reduce your bandwidth requirements? Please leave your comments below or vote using our new poll on the SitePoint home page…
Craig is a freelance UK web consultant who built his first page for IE2.0 in 1995. Since that time he's been advocating standards, accessibility, and best-practice HTML5 techniques. He's created enterprise specifications, websites and online applications for companies and organisations including the UK Parliament, the European Parliament, the Department of Energy & Climate Change, Microsoft, and more. He's written more than 1,000 articles for SitePoint and you can find him @craigbuckler.