Speed Is A Ranking Factor, But Don’t Hit The Gas Yet
Google recently announced that loading speed is a signal to improved rankings. They even gave us a free tool to gauge it.
It’s always been assumed, but with this announcement it was made truly official. Did we really need Google to tell us? Couldn’t we figure out that Google wants to serve fast loading sites? Of course we could. Just about anything that is good for a user is good for Google.
But before you go running tests in a panic, think about your site. Have you been good to your visitors? Have you been sensible with redirects? Have you been mindful of bloated code and huge files (image, Flash, and otherwise)? Do you have a good webhost? If all of this is true, you’re probably fine. Sure, run the test, but I wouldn’t panic and put in projects to fix prematurely.
Another note – above I recommended watching your page weight. I like a good site validated to standards, but I’m not that kind of SEO anymore. I’m quite sure it’s OK to be a little noisy in code. Semantics in code is great, but don’t worry about a little bloated code. Again, run the speed test. See if Google thinks you have a problem. It probably won’t be from tag soup.
The idea for this post was from a string I just read on Webmaster World. I heard a webmaster talk about recoding to err on the side of caution. Many agreed without the test, simply because they got swept up in Google’s announcement, but not reality. I thought that was a really useless waste of time without some sort of real reason. The bottom line – if your page is chunking while it’s loading, on several fast connections, you have a problem. But I’m sure you knew that.