In a recent video interview with Google’s Matt Cutt’s, he hints that Google is considering using a site’s speed as part of the algorithm that ranks the order of pages in its search results. To break it down quite simply, fast sites might rank higher, while slower-loading sites might suffer in the results. Of course, that is only the case with no other part of the algorithm in effect. Google’s PageRank algorithm is very complex and includes many factors and variables. By adding loading speed into the algorithm, it will not completely alter the results. Obviously, the point of this would be to improve search quality even further by allowing users to access information faster outside of Google search results.
“…A lot of people within Google think that the web should be fast, it should be a good experience; and so it’s sort of fair to say if you’re a fast site, maybe you should get a little bit of a bonus. Or maybe if you have a really awfully slow site, users don’t want that as much.”, says Cutt’s in the interview with WebProNews. While I have talked about page loading times in the past and why they are important, this new proposal only renforces the idea.
I’ve read a lot of the controversial comments and threads on this topic and thought about it myself for a while. One of the major things people are bringing up is content vs speed – which is more important? And to answer the question, you need to assess a number of things. The first being do you need an answer quickly? How much information do you need? Just an overview or an in-depth analysis of a particular topic? I don’t have any statistics (but it would be interesting to find out) of the percentages of people who are searching whether they are looking for short, concise and informative results or more in-depth analysis. I would think most of the time people just require an overview or short and concise answers. If that is truly the case then it would seem having faster pages higher in results would be beneficial. I would also like to point out that anyone who is looking for in-depth analysis on a topic will most likely be using educational databases or professional databases that have articles and research written and compiled by professionals. Plus there is always Google Scholar.
Also, have you looked at the Google 2008 Zeitgeist? Do those look like in-depth analysis searches? Not to me. People who are putting out these controversial statements seem to be worrying about losing valuable content. I highly doubt that will be the case. If you did not know this already, Google already penalizes sites that have a lot of downtime (at least so I read, if I’m wrong, please correct me in the comments) and those are most likely the same sites that load slowly anyway – so really, what’s the difference? Again, I think this is really a non-issue and something that shouldn’t really be fret over. It will be beneficial to Google users, not harmful.