Does page load speed affect search engine ranking?

It might not make much difference now… but it might start to matter soon. Rumour has it that the next Google page rank algorithm update will give page loading speed more importance. Presumably they’ll be encouraging faster page loading, discouraging people from building hefty, fat pages.

Even if the rumours aren’t true, it’s best practice to make sure your pages load quickly and smoothly. Why? Because until everyone has access to decent broadband speeds – which is a long way off yet – complicated pages still load horribly slowly.And there’s more. Feed your visitors all the fancy graphics you like, but pretty pictures won’t increase their chronically short attention spans.

Some useful information about page loading speed

  • remember most of the world doesn’t have access to broadband yet. In fact billions of people till use a basic dialup connection
  • keep your pages simple. Whizzy graphics and resource-heavy styling might look cool but unless they increase sales conversion, what’s the point?
  • use physically smaller, low resolution images or manipulate  big images so they load faster without losing quality
  • make sure every page loads in less than 15 seconds. It might not sound like long but it feels like forever when you’re staring at your screen waiting for something to happen
  • use thumbnail images – many of today’s design and graphics applications include automatic thumbnail generation
  • forget animations… unless  they have a direct and measurable positive effect on sales converison they’ll only slow things down
  • if the same image needs to appear in several places on-site, use a single image rather than several images with different names
  • avoid designing with tables because they tend to load slower. Join the 21st century and use .css instead
  • avoid using javascript
  • maintain your back end databases properly so they don’t get clogged up – especially relevant to ecommerce sites