How Critical is Page Speed?

Updated September 22, 2010

Doc Sheldon

When Google announced a while back, that page speed was going to be a factor from now on, panic was born on blogs and forums all over the ‘net. Conjecture ran out of control (I’m surprised… I don’t recall seeing any “SEO is DEAD!” posts), as some of the SEO community – and by some, I mean most – scurried to optimize images, insert Java scripts, and compare their site’s speed to that of their competitors.

After a couple of weeks, some new shiny object caught folks’ eyes, and the furor calmed down a little. Many of the saltier SEOs kept their cool, as they’d seen such goings-on before, so they just sat back, chuckling, and watched the fun.Finally, Matt Cutts, who was undoubtedly chuckling a little himself, addressed the issue today, in response to a question he received, in one of his GoogleWebmasterHelp videos.

Bottom line… page speed is one of the more than 200 signals utilized by Google, and carries considerably less weight than content and reputation.

“… the content and the reputation definitely matters a lot more than just the pure page speed.”

So unless your page is really slow, you probably have nothing to worry about, all else being equal.

That’s not to say that it isn’t wise to optimize your images, and possibly utilize some asynchronous scripts where it’ll make a difference. Users still have finite patience, and if a page takes thirty seconds to load, you’re probably going to see a significant bounce rate.

But your site’s content and reputation continue to be the most important asset you’ve got. Put your attention where you’ll get the biggest bang for the buck, and then worry about the little stuff.

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