Just wanted to jot down a quick blog post with my thoughts about two blog posts about speed. Matt Cutts has been writing both on his own blog and on the official Google Webmaster Central Blog to tell everyone what we knew was coming: site speed is now an official ranking factor.
Now I want to remind you that I’ve been writing about site speed for quite a while. I wrote about WordPress template optimization (a quite dated post now, btw) back in january 2008. And even in april 2007 I wrote about the effect a slow server could have on how Google spiders your site.
Now of course I do a weekly WordPress podcast together with Frederick Townes, who is the creator of the awesome plugin W3 Total Cache, so I talk about speed a lot, and I’ve talked more than once about getting proper WordPress hosting. And that is leading to what I wanted to tell you in this post: the fact that Google now officially has made site speed one of the (over 200) ranking factors, means that there can be no more excuses; you have to get proper hosting. Now.
Having said that, I should probably tell you that I recently switched to an even better CDN, which has made my site even faster. I’m now on MaxCDN, as well as still being hosted on a VPS.net VPS itself. My site now loads, depending on where you are in the world, in somewhere between 1 and 2,5 seconds. Am I finished? Of course not, there’s always room for improvement. Has this speed helped my rankings? Probably. I do know one thing: I’ve had several clients whose sites were too slow, and who, after being properly optimized for speed, got better rankings.
And heck, if it’s a ranking factor, this is one of the easiest ones to get right. There can be no discussion about it: 10 seconds is slow, 1 second is fast. Of course there’s grey areas, but why settle when your site is still loading in more than say 2 seconds? There are several pieces of research that show that decreasing load times on pages leads to an increase in sales, pageviews and other desired actions. Of course it does. A fast site is nicer to hang around on. Nicer to purchase stuff on. Nicer to subscribe to. In short: a faster site is more likely to make you money.
Do I need to say it again? Make your site load as fast as you can. Install W3 Total Cache if you’re on WordPress and you haven’t done it yet. Get proper hosting if it’s still slow after that (test with Pingdom, f/i), and yes, I urge you to try VPS.net in that case. Go do it. Now!!!