SEO Tip #18: Do site load times have an impact on Google rankings?

Matt Cutts: The short answer is not right now. Now let’s give a little more color.

Of course if a site takes so long to load that we can’t even fetch it, Googlebot can’t get a copy of it, then that will have an effect on your rankings because your site is essentially timing out. If your site is taking 20 or 30 seconds to respond to requests that could be a problem.

If your site takes one second versus two seconds that makes no difference what so ever on Google’s rankings. So that’s the short answer. Now let’s give a little more color.

If you haven’t heard, Larry Page has talked about how he wants the web to be. He wants the web to be really fast, almost as fast as a magazine. As soon as you can turn the page, you’re ready for the next page. And so chrome was built with that philosophy. We want to make the web really fast and make it a really good experience.

Currently site load times have no effect on Google’s rankings. What might happen in the future I don’t know? I could certainly imagine Google saying, “Well we’d like the web to be faster. What can we do to encourage people to make their sites faster? How can we try to get the word out that if your site is faster people will be happier and they’re more likely to come back to your site or to use your site more often?”

We’ve seen that on our own sites. It is interesting that we want the web to be fast and we want sites to load quickly. Right now it’s not at all a factor in our rankings. For the future, who knows what might be involved?

Personally I think it is a great idea if you can look at some of the ways to make your site a little faster. For example don’t include 40 different JavaScripts files. You can compact them into one JavaScript file or one CSS file. Don’t include huge images when your image size is set to something tiny.

There’s a lot of ways that you can minify or compact your pages to make them return faster for users. You can gzip pages, for example. There are a lot of ways you can look at that’s really good for user experience. Don’t worry about it from a search engine ranking perspective right now, but it probably can make a really big difference for your users.

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About the Author

Andy Johnson

Andy Johnson has been on the Internet since the its dawn(ie his first computer program was recorded on cassette tape) and his first hard drive cost about as much his current MacBook. His first byline was in 1993 for a local newspaper rag he eventually helmed, and his last “real job” was at a computer start up which ended when it ended. Throughout it all he’s freelanced and blogged. Now he is mesmerized by Search Engine Optimization forever trying to “rise to the top” for the right reasons. He’s been married to his wife Julia for as long as he can remember and has two lovely, wonderful children. He looks forward to sharing the latest in the technical best for all the online entrepreneurs.