When Google Caffeine was released, we rediscovered the importance of page load time …among other things. And maybe it’s not as important as content relevance, but Matt Cutts did say, “…Relevancy is the most important [ranking factor]. If you have two sites that are equally relevant… you’d probably prefer the one that’s a little bit faster, so page speed can be an interesting theory to try out for a factor in scoring different websites. But absolutely, relevance is the primary component… That’s not going to change.”
Okay, that much we could probably have figured out on our own, content trumps page speed… great.
While Matt Cutts didn’t elaborate on how important page load speed was compared to the more than 200 other page ranking factors, last month we may have seen a hint at its importance when a new feature was introduced on Google Analytics allowing you to track page load speed right within your account. So obviously it’s important enough to extend tracking support.
Although page load speed is not automatically included, it is pretty easy to install. Just add _gaq.push([‘_trackPageLoadTime’]); to your Google Analytics script
var _gaq = _gaq || ;
ga.src = (‘https:’ == document.location.protocol ? ‘https://ssl’ : ‘http://www’) + ‘.google-analytics.com/ga.js’;
var s = document.getElementsByTagName(‘script’); s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s);
While we may not know just how important page speed is, we do know that it’s important not just to ranking well in the search engines, but also for an improved user experience. Start comparing bounce rates and average time on pages and conversion rates between two pages of greatly varying load times, what are you seeing… if the content is not worth the wait, your visitors will likely leave.