It looks like Google may expand on its quest for a faster web by incorporating a site’s page speed into Google’s SEO ranking algorithm. In an interview with WebProNews, Google’s Matt Cutts says this of faster sites: “It should be a good experience, and so it’s sort of fair to say that if you’re a fast site, maybe you should get a little bit of a bonus.”
Google AdWords’ ranking algorithm has incorporated page speed since May, 2008. In my talk at Velocity 2009, Shopzilla first talked about the impact speed had on the AdWords rank for one of our UK sites. As you can see in the graph, with a 4 second improvement in page load speed we saw a more than 100% improvement in the sessions coming from our SEM program. As we’ve rolled out our new site infrastructure for the rest of our European sites, Shopzilla has continued to see positive results. With results so dramatic and closely correlated with our change in page loads, our European sites seemed to have been in some sort of AdWords “penalty box”. However, we were never able to get an understanding of the exact dynamics between our page speeds and quality score. In other words, your mileage may vary.
Of course, there is no indication of the actual impact of Google including page speed in their SEO ranking, but the implications could clearly be huge. While many of us believe that high performance is a competitive advantage, this possible move from Google shows they really mean business in their quest for a faster web.