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How large a ranking factor is load time?

12:35 pm on Jul 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

As my website has grown, my page loading time has increased to several seconds in some cases. Could this be affecting my rankings?
11:39 am on Jul 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

Robzilla, are you saying the current speed update in GWT is from March? That's not what I'm seeing. It is early morning of July 9 here, and I see the speed data in my GWT account was last updated on July 7, and I expect this to change to July 8 by midday.

I don't recall ever seeing 4 month old data. I wonder if this could be a result of Google not getting enough data points for that particular website.

I tend to trust GWT site performance information, as it is collected from the web browsers actual users use.

When I'm performing changes to my site which could affect its performance, my favorite tool is webpagetest.com. The tool opens tested pages in your choice of a browser (IE9, IE8, IE7, FF, Chrome, etc), and you may select to perform a test in any of about 30 different geographical locations. I found this useful when comparing CDN providers for my site.
7:48 pm on Jul 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Yes, on one site with a couple hundred visitors per day, the last update of the performance graph was on March 19.

Webpagetest.org is fantastic, everyone should be using it.
1:03 pm on Jul 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Does pages size affect rankings?

No clue, nobody knows anything anymore with Google. What is true this evening might change when the sun rises...

I just try to keep index page size from 35kb to 50kb.

I have no idea what impact it has, but it's the easiest to implement. Optimize your images, if you want rich media create small images that link to the content. Keep all the heavy stuff off your index file.

Just my 2 cents.
2:42 pm on Jul 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

If that 50KB is all-inclusive (not just the HTML), that's very reasonable, considering that the trend is toward 1MB and up ([httparchive.org ]).
1:44 am on Jul 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Google analytics has page speed info in it. Its what Google sees. It can be really revealing.

I have seen very slow sites in big niches get traffic, slow sites in broad areas throttled.

However it is directly related to user experience. So if the load time is a problem, it will effect click through rates and other factors.
8:20 am on Jul 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I have a design tool on my site that is slow. There are a lot of fonts and images to load before it's operational. This area is blocked from google via robots.txt but will it still impact my sites speed and load times? I think it must as my site is now fast apart from that area. Having moved images to cloud, got rid of as much javascript as possible etc google is still reporting between 4 and 6 seconds load times! The other pages load in less than 2 seconds (and if it was't for slow first byte times it would be about 1 second).

If I moved the design are to a sub domain, would that solve the problem? I don't think it's such an issue for the users themselves but if google looks at average site speed, taking into account this area, it looks bad.
9:01 am on Jul 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

What problem? It's perfectly valid and normal to have a longer load time for that page.

Don't lose sight of the logic behind search engine algorithms, or the perspective that it's all about the user. A simple average site speed alone is therefore not now nor ever going to be a reliable metric of site quality. It's the point where load time begins to really interfere with the user experience (e.g. when all your pages are slow because your server is slow or overloaded) that you should watch for, but right now you really don't seem to have a problem (apart from the anxiety, perhaps).

Faster is always better from a user perspective, so do dig into that time-to-first-byte issue. Maybe look into caching, or review your code, check for bottlenecks?
9:10 am on Jul 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

apart from the anxiety, perhaps

lol, how do you know about that? I worry that you know about the paranoia too!

I worry that with an average slow load time due to that tool that google feels my users are not having a good experience.

The first byte issue should be resolved when I move hosts. The host that I am with are totally incompetent so will be moving anyway - not just first byte issues. I could write a book on the amazingly bad things they have done.
10:40 am on Jul 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

If only all performance issues were so easily fixed :-)

Google knows that different pages serve different purposes, and that some pages will logically be heavier than others.
10:48 am on Jul 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

So you think it's not an issue as long as the main part of the site is nice and responsive? Obviously it would be nice to clean up the design tool and make it faster to some degree but to really speed it up I would need to remove images and fonts but by doing so I remove choice to my customer.
10:55 am on Jul 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

So you think it's not an issue as long as the main part of the site is nice and responsive?

Speed is NOT an issue unless your users feel it is an issue.
11:50 am on Jul 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

@Jez123, I agree with robzilla. There's no cause for concern here. If your visitors are abandoning the page before it loads, then I'd worry. But other than that, Page Speed is still a minor factor and will probably continue that way for quite a while.

If there is a way to speed things up, then that's good service to your users - so do it for that reason. But moving this utility to a subdomain would have nothing to do with your visitors at all. I see no reason for it.
1:31 am on Jul 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Many people don't realize how big a problem they have with page speed. If you go into Google analytics,click content,site speed an overview.

Then you can see the general overview of how Google looks at your website. But if you click on "page timing", you may be surprised at some of the spikes that Google has recorded for your page speed.
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