SEO Tip #66: Should I Remove Widgets that Increase My Sites Load Time?

Matt Cutts: My rough answer is do what’s best for the user. That’s what’s first and foremost because that is what’s going to attract more users, more loyalty, more buzz, people linking to you, people talking about you, that’s the main thing you want to care about.

Whenever Google talked about using page speed or site speed as a relevant, possible signal in our scoring results a lot of people went too far in one direction. They thought, “Oh I have to get down my site speed. I have to take these two pieces of java script and I have to compress them together. It all needs to be in one file and everything has to be one single image load and it’s all got to be perfect.” That is good for user experience and it is important to pay attention to how fast your site loads and what the user experience is like but you don’t have to go overboard.

Remember if we’re using site or page speed in our search results it’s only one of more than 200 different factors. It doesn’t change that the quality of your content and how good your site is and how many great blog posts or whatever you have on your site; those are the main determinants of how you will rank.

So I wouldn’t recommend getting rid of widgets whether they be from FaceBook, or whether they be ads or whatever just because the slower that you are remotely talking to is a little bit slower. There are plenty of ways you can do things that are what we call asynchronous.

For example we might look at the time it takes to reach the onload event but that doesn’t mean the javascript can’t keep happening after the onload event. So Google Analytics for example, now provides a new snippet of java code that will not affect the load time in any significant way. That also is good for the user experience.

It’s always possible that FaceBook will offer those sorts of widgets that are asynchronous but in the mean time speed is not going to affect that vast majority of sites. It’s a relatively small number of sites that are affected by it so if it helps your user experience in any way I wouldn’t worry about whether a particular widget is a little bit slower than some other parts of the site. There will be time to figure out ways to make the web faster.

What we wanted to do was start the conversation so that people don’t just think about the quality of their content. They also think about the quality of their content as it’s loading in the real world by a web browser to sort of think about the user experience and how compelling that user experience is.

What we are doing is just the first small step on that way but it’s already prompted a lot of people to think about this entirely new dimension of their website, and that’s really useful. At the same time you don’t have to go overboard and get to the point where you are really worrying about whether to include an extra image or two. This is something that only affects a small percentage of sites.

So the first thing you should be thinking about is how to make your site better for users and that’s the thing that is the main factor.

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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.