Google announced a long time ago that the speed at which your website loads will be a factor that affects its position in the rankings. This makes sense when you consider that they want to give the best experience to their users. If you find a website in the results and when you click on it you’re waiting around to read it, it’s no good for anyone.
In fact, website speed has been a factor in AdWords for years, and a slow site equates to a poor quality score. A low score affects the cost of your adverts and the position in which they appear, so it’s an obvious next step to do this with organic results.
So we’re agreed on that then. But what if Google took it further? What if when showing the search results they indicated that a website was slow?
It seems that might be on the horizon:
This image was published on Search Engine Land and appears to indicate that Google is experimenting with informing people that a site may not be fast enough to bother visiting.
There’s no real announcement from Google as to when or even if this is likely to become a part of the results full time, and a lot of testing will need to be done. However, it does show that Google, fresh from eradicating content spam, dodgy SEO practices, and unprofessional link creation is now getting more technical. The company only want to provide the best information to its users and appear to be willing to go to some length to make that happen.
The cost to website owners
Obviously some website owners will be up in arms at this development. Web hosting costs and fast hosting costs more. Does this mean that in order to pass muster with the big G you’re going to have to fork out a lot more money?
Even the cheapest hosting is plenty fast enough for most needs and won’t be affected by these changes. It’s not so much the hosting as what you do with it. The big issue with many websites these days is that they are just too bloated.
Images, fancy animations, videos, they all take time to download and they often don’t give the user exactly what they need. Fancy graphics might entice more people to sign up to your course, but overuse will put people off, slow down your site and maybe cost you dearly in the search results.
Don’t see this as a ‘ranking tax’ by Google and instead see it as an opportunity to make some changes and give your visitors exactly what they want.