As reported by SEO Boy, Google’s webspam team leader Matt Cutts hinted during PubCon that site speed could become a determining factor in SERPs. Nothing official has come from Google as to if/when the change to the algorithm could be made, but Cutts noted that if the change were to be made it would come after Google’s new indexing system “Caffiene” is fully implemented. And according to Cutts, Caffeine won’t be added to all the data centers till after the 2009 holiday season.
Here’s Web Pro New’s interview with Matt Cutts regarding the topic.
Google already uses site speed as determining factor in AdWords so the news should not have come as a big surprise. Yet when news broke of the potential algorithm tweak, not only did it upstage Google’s Caffeine buzz, it also stirred up some blogosphere controversy.
Some people believe that SSO – Site Speed Optimization – will diminish the need for quality content.
Others fear that site speed will hurt small companies who can’t afford the same quality of webhosting as medium to large companies.
SEO/SSO Common Sense
I typically jump on the small company bandwagon. I even share the concerns of those who fear the impact of site speed on SERPs. But in this case I give Google the benefit of the doubt:
1) Google understands that User Experience is the most important factor in SEO. Quick, accurate load times enhance the user experience.
2) Site Speed could become “a” factor, not “the” factor in SERPs. Google’s secret indexing recipe considers many, many factors so if your sites don’t load lightning-quick today, it probably won’t be the end of their good rankings.
3) The Twitter effect. Google’s stranglehold on the Search Engine market stems from their ability to give accurate, relevant listings. With the rise of Twitter Search, users not only find relevant results, but real time results from their peers. Because of this, Google is more than likely trying to give users both relevant and real time results.
Your Neighbor Google Likes to Share Tools
Cutts mentioned how Google wants a “faster web” (source, webpronews video). A fast web comes from not only faster webhosting but from cleaner code. With this in mind, Cutts mentioned a few of the many tools webmasters and site owners can use to check their site speed.
A link from Google with tools, tips and strategies to help make your site(s) quicker
Google Closure Compiler and Page Speed Firefox Plugin
A third-party site that gives nice, second-by-second waterfall date regarding site page loading.
Google probably doesn’t have a hidden agenda. They have to catch up to a 2.0 world. And the rest of us are going to have to catch up along with them.