Good riddance to bad rubbish. “No more waiting for slow sites to open and a faster web for everyone” is Google’s theory behind possibly updating their algorithm to give lower ranking to sites with slow load times. A few naysayers are crying foul because this equates to a preference for big businesses with fast site opening times and the capital to improve site speed when their Google rankings fall.

Is this necessarily a bad thing for those in SEO? Probably not. Improving the download speed of a website can be easily and inexpensively accomplished, and with already good SEO in place, just might skyrocket your page to the top of Google search results. Most smart website owners are concerned with Google rankings, and by simply adjusting a few minor webpage elements, could reap huge search result rewards. For faster load times try:

Getting rid of some images: Sure they look snazzy, but if your site ends up on page ten of the search results, no one is going to see them anyway. A hard and fast rule for faster load times is to keep the number of images below sixteen, compress the files and repeat images across website pages.

Lowering the Bandwidth: Try HTTP Compression of XHTML, CSS, and Java Script ; it will cut down on your bandwidth and result in faster webpage downloads.  The amount you’ll save in bandwidth alone could make this step pay for itself in the long run.

Sprites: All the big boys use them to reduce HTTP requests.  If you’ve ever been on AOL’s homepage, then you’ve probably interacted with these CSS Sprites. If you’re not familiar with CSS hacks, you’ll want to hire someone that is, to allow for different browsers in the code and not alienate website visitors. This is the more expensive option of the three mentioned, but if you have tried the other two and your website download times are still geriatric-ally slow, invest the cash in Sprite creation.

This is probably a good time to talk with your SEO provider to gauge how your site will rank after Google implements their newest algorithm.  You can also test your site speed and get suggestions on how to improve your download times from numerous free services.  Don’t, however, wait until your website falls off Google’s map and risk a lot of lost revenue before improving your website’s speed.  Being proactive could be the difference between finding your website on page 1 or page 101 in the search results.