Now That Google Search Result Rankings Include Page Speed, What You Don't Know WILL Hurt You
Recently Google announced that they will rank websites higher that have quicker to load pages. Some may see this as a unilateral decision by the dominant force in the Internet. Let's consider what this policy is aiming to do.
In the developed world, many Internet users are lucky to be connected to the Internet through broadband. This is one reason why we now run our lives through the web. But I'm old enough to remember the days of Netscape browsing on a external modem on lines so slow I could have made a cup of tea will waiting for Yahoo! to appear on my PC.
Today in 10 minutes online we can buy a week's worth of groceries, a new overcoat, PC or even a car. We pay our bills through Internet banking on our phones and we fight wars against gamers in Korea, Sao Paolo and South Africa, speaking with them as if they were next door. So what's Google talking about, why is it even bothered about slow page speed?
In spite of all the progress with broadband there are still websites that take a long time to load. How many times have you had to wait for the payment page to load only to be told to 'start again'? It happens to me and it happens to you. How many times have you killed the video you're watching because it's constantly stop-starting?
What's causing all these delays? Why haven't the webmasters learned from 14 years of commercial experience how to give a customer a great looking page and a fulfilling experience? There are many reasons:
- Rich web experiences use beautiful and heavy-weight graphics
- Video consumes broadband much like an SUV drinks fuel
- Websites run many specialised software systems to give you and I a good experience:
- Content management -- to deliver text and images
- Analytics -- tools used to keep track of the website and make decisions on how to continually improve the website
- Shopping platforms - to make sure you can browse and buy in safety
- Online ad serving -- hey websites have to make money to give us great web sites
To make Web sites wonderful creations, they use not just one but sometimes several of these systems. Each of these systems is usually run with 'tags' that are small pieces of code placed on web pages.
The problem is that web pages become overrun with as many as 50 tags on their pages. Each tag can slow a web page by a fraction of a second, and this adds up. Because our core business is a tag management system, we conducted a research study that revealed that some websites were slowing down because of tags on their pages; as few as four tags could cause a 1 second delay.
1 or 2 seconds, that's nothing right? Wrong. The study also found that a single second delay could result in 10% of a website's customers leaving the site. After 10 seconds most customers have given up and gone somewhere else. No website owner wants customers leaving their pages feeling frustrated and annoyed.
Google for a long time gave first to prioritise websites that were more popular. The assumption being that we all vote with our mouses and will abandon bad sites in favor of the best. So Google's latest announcement comes from the same desire, to keep you and me having the best of the web.
The message is clear for website owners, make great websites but don't forget to think about your consumer. Keep the balance of rich experience to speed in the forefront of your mind.