Google today indicated that site speed is considered a parameter for search engine rankings online, and as we checked our Google webmaster panel to evaluate our site performance – it was revealing to know that “on average, pages in your site take 11.2 seconds to load (updated on Apr 8, 2010). This is slower than 94% of sites. These estimates are of high accuracy (more than 1000 data points).”
Considering that the top of he chart is the 20th percentile, our site is indeed slow. You can also check your site performance by logging into Google Webmaster tools > Dashboard >Labs > Site performance.
I tried several other site speed tools, but the time for loading was much less than 11.2 seconds, but then that is the average time across all your pages which Google records, and that is what Google will consider in your search result rankings; so that is what you have to fix despite whatever the other third party tools display.
The Google post reveals that
Currently, fewer than 1% of search queries are affected by the site speed signal in our implementation and the signal for site speed only applies for visitors searching in English on Google.com at this point. We launched this change a few weeks back after rigorous testing. If you haven’t seen much change to your site rankings, then this site speed change possibly did not impact your site.
We have been noticing a reduced Google traffic since the last few weeks, and it would not be surprising if site speed criteria affected our site (which is slower than 94% of site on the internet!). Though Google engineer Matt Cutts tried to pacify webmasters that after all it affects only 1% of search queries on Google.com only; considering Google must be displaying billions of such results, imagine how huge 1% would turn out to be.
Obviously we need to test our site with these page speed tools to determine the causes of slow speed on our site. Since we are on VPS hosting, beyond the restraints of shared hosting, we should be able to tweak ourselves better. I think the easiest way to start is using Page Speed, an open source Firefox/Firebug add-on that evaluates the performance of web pages and gives suggestions for improvement. A quick look at our site reveals that obviously we have lots of scripts, images, css files etc. loading and slowing web pages … we will fix them soon.
Actually if you look at it, its a a superb attempt by Google to speed up the internet as a whole. Who likes slow loading sites on slow internet connections. With our ever shortening attention spans, don’t we all appreciate a fast loading website and tend to and browse such sites more… Thus, fast loading websites will provide better user experience and guarantee more pageviews, and with Google granting such fast sites with higher search engine rankings, its a win-win situtation for webmasters.
I am right now planning measures to super speed up our site and will keep you posted about what we changed in the site design and if it improve our search rankings. Please suggest how can we speed up QOT? Share in the comments and we might just make a post out of your useful suggestions credited to you.