Speed TestWant to ‘rank better in Google’? Google recently announced that your site’s speed, that is, how quickly your pages load, might just have a bearing on where your site is ranked.

Yes, there are hundreds of ‘signals’ the giant search engine uses to make sure your customers can find you, but Google now feels like the speed at which your site responds to web requests will potentially bump you up or down in the rankings for your targeted keywords.

It’s known that today, Google takes into account the number of bounces your site receives when ranking your site. A ‘bounce’ is when someone accesses your home page and then quickly leaves….they ‘bounce’ off of your home page (or other entry page). High bounces generally mean one of two things to most sites, and speed is one of them, so this announcement really does make some sense in the grand scheme of things.

First off, if 4 people visit your site, and 3 of them ‘bounce’, or leave immediately, that’s a 75% bounce rate as defined in any analytics program. That’s not a good number obviously. It generally means that your site is not professional (the visitor determined by initial perception that your site stinks, so does your business more than likely), not interesting or generally hasn’t captured a visitors attention to bother with a click to the next page…it’s not ‘relevant’ for that visitor.

However, it ALSO could mean that your site is ‘heavy’, using WAY too many graphics, flash, or other digital assets which bog down the loading of the page. People don’t want to wait – they immediately leave.

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Your Site Sucks (Oh, and It’s UGLY)

There was a very popular web design book years ago which studied ‘sites that suck’, or something to that effect. The point of the book was to show examples of what ‘not to do’ when designing a site by reviewing slow, non-professional and generally speaking, ‘ugly’ websites.

Most people appreciate a site which loads quickly, but at the expense of the creative? Sure, a site with NO graphics would load very quickly in most cases, but who would want to spend time on such a site (besides a scientist doing some sort of research)?

In fact, Google is not suggesting that to ‘rank better in Google’ one has give up graphics, flash, video and all the visually engaging page elements we’ve come to enjoy (and rely on for a more pleasant experience). They are simply saying that if your pages are built ‘to code’….that is, built according to best practices, you will be rewarded potentially with better rankings.

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How Slow IS Your Site?

Google actually offers a tool to help you (or any site owner for that matter) understand the impact of SLOW on the web. Google’s Page Speed tool is a Firefox add-on (Firefox is a browser by the way) which can help you determine IF your site is slow and what to do about it.

The suggestions might sometimes be technical in nature, but some may not be. So, the best thing to do is to check out the tool for yourself.

Don’t forget, if you have questions, or would like us to help ‘translate’ results, don’t hesitate to contact Sisson Media below.