Well it’s official. Google is now incorporating site load speed into its ranking algorithm according to a Webmaster Central Blog post earlier this morning.
There has been chatter about this addition being in the works for some time, and if you ask me, its one that will significantly help to improve the overall quality of search results and end user experience.
Nobody likes to sit at a site for several minutes waiting for a page to load. How often have you had to click the back button and choose another result when the site you found in the top 10 just sat there and did nothing. Hopefully this update will help reduce the exposure to super-slow sites.
With this addition to the ranking algorithm, you now have at least two incentives to optimize your image sizes, and improve your load times. The first is the often overlooked conversion rates. A site that loads faster, typically sells more, and makes you more money. And now, if making your site faster will help improve your search rankings, that in turn will send more people to your site, and make you even more sales.
According to Google, only roughly 1% of search queries are affected by site speed, but if you are one of those 1%, you will definitely want to make some improvements to your site in the short term!
A while back I wrote about how you can improve your site load times. Be sure to check out “Website Slowing You Down” for a few ideas on how to improve things.