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Is Page Speed A Ranking Factor?

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There has been a lot of talk about the effects of page speed on SEO lately, so I thought I’d set the record straight. For those of you who don’t know about page speed, it is the time it takes for your website to load. We all know that some websites take ages to load, while others are extremely fast.

I have noticed a number of blogs and videos that discuss page speed and whether or not it is a ranking factor. In a recent post in Google’s Webmaster Central Blog, it has been confirmed that page speed is indeed a ranking factor.

The reasoning behind this is that a page that loads faster, doesn’t make a user wait for long time to view the information on the page. Because they don’t waste a user’s time, the user’s experience is improved. Therefore, fast-loading websites deserve to have higher ranking results.

A link to the post is here: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2010/04/using-site-speed-in-web-search-ranking.html

In this post it states that the change only effects .com, visitors searching in English & less than 1% of websites. So unless you have a very slow English website based in the US, you don’t have anything to worry about…. Yet! My personal prediction is that this will spread to websites in Australia and other countries, so we should all start preparing now.

How to optimise for speed? There are a number of ways to do this. I recommend the Firefox plug-in, or the new Chrome extension (you can find these by clicking on the link above). Run one of these on the website you wish to optimise for page speed, and it will provide you with a list of items that are effecting the load time. Then you can prioritise them and tick them off.

Some of these items can be tricky (CSS sprites, compression on some servers), while others are pretty simple (specifying image dimensions). Do what you can, and if you can get the website load score to a high 80 that’s a very good result. Anything below a 60, and it would be worthwhile to address this before Google rolls out page speed as a new SEO ranking factor in Australia.

You can contact your Campaign Manager at E-Web Marketing for advice on how to proceed with the trickier parts of optimising for page speed, or just post a reply if you have any questions!

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