Google confirmed officially on its blog that it takes site speed into account when it decides how highly a website will be ranked on its search engine results. While usability experts have been preaching fast loading times for a while, the official announcement from Google casts the need to have a fast-loading website in stone.
Google stated on its blog that it has conclusively proven with internal studies that when a site takes a long time to load, users spend less time on it, thus making it less attractive to Google than a site that loads quickly enough for the visitors to want to stay on it.
What wider implications does this have for the web? This may put the nail in the coffin of flash websites with notoriously long load times, and sites that make use of larger pictures without backend processes in place to reduce file sizes.
Google suggests the following tools to use in order to gauge page speed:
- Page Speed, an open source Firefox addon.
- YSlow, tool from Yahoo that shows page speed.
- WebPagetest shows load performance and gives an optimization checklist.
It is fair to say that if Google is recommending them, they are probably the tools you want to be using.