Too Slow for SEO: Keep your website from falling off Google’s map

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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.

Comments (8)

  • Avatar
    Blog Guide Reply

    Great tips to increase the load times of websites, thanks.

    The whole thing about valuing fast load times is great for the user, because it makes sites invest more to get webpages loading faster. All in all, everyone will benefit from this.

    December 7, 2009 at 9:51 am
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    Eric Graf Reply

    Do you have any advice for photographers like myself who display images at 800-900 pxls wide? We already optimize images before posting but we will obviously be at a disadvantage compared to text-oriented sites.

    December 9, 2009 at 11:30 am
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      Gabriella Reply

      Hello Eric, we have had this question asked by another client of ours who happened to also be a photographer. I realize as an artist you want to show the best quality of your work, but in order to have your work upload fast you have to sacrifice your huge files for the web. One thing I suggested to our clients is to have all your pictures optimized at no more than 75 dpi BUT the trick here is to give the potential viewer another option where you can show off your work with a higher resolution. The client will then know that it will take a little bit longer but if they are downloading pictures for print or you are selling art work on line then you can supply them with the higher DPI elsewhere. I hope that makes sense.

      December 10, 2009 at 11:41 am
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    Executive Headhunters Reply

    We are quite looking forward to this change happening. Apart from anything else, if this is just another metric that Google uses, people have two choices – embrace it or be penalised! It should also see some of the chaff being dropped out a little too – which is always a good thing!

    We have someone looking at our site to see how we can improve things further as well, but we will be making sure we do not fall foul of this!

    December 12, 2009 at 5:50 pm
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      Admin Reply

      Always nice to keep an eye on your site, amazing at how many things we miss when they are right under our noses 🙂

      December 16, 2009 at 11:28 am
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    UK dissertation Reply

    Very well written write-up. I literally enjoyed the concept described in the post. Once again nice work indeed.

    December 21, 2009 at 10:55 pm
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    Ben the Bar Man Reply

    I think this has been a long time coming… Unique, relevant content is great, however if the site takes forever to load then the user experience is greatly impaired… I think it is a Good thing Google finally acknowledging that it is not just the words on a website that make a site good…

    December 27, 2009 at 4:26 pm
    • Avatar
      Admin Reply

      The day I can figure out all of Daddy Google’s criteria is the day I can retire 😉

      December 28, 2009 at 11:16 am

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Too Slow for SEO: Keep your website from falling off Google’s map