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Should I be obsessing about load times?

Should I be obsessing about load times? - answered by Matt Cutts

Matt's answer:

CUTTS: We have a phone question from Ryan in Dearborn, Michigan. Ryan asks “Many SEO’s are obsessing about your speed comments,” so that’s where I was talking about having a good site can be good for users. “But I get the feeling speed will be a very minor component in ranking. Am I right, or should I be obsessing about load times as well?” Well, anybody who thinks “Google’s only going to sort in order of who’s the fastest website,” that would clearly be the wrong thing to do for users. However, if two websites are more or less completely identical, imagine that they’re, you know, twins, right? And they have the same backlinks, they have the same information, all the pages are the same. The only difference is that page or site A is much faster than page or site B. Most users would prefer to go to page or site A. So remember, we use more than 200 different signals in our ranking. And what we’ve said is we have considered in 2010 using page speed or the user experience how fast it is for users as one of those components. It’s only if–even if we do decide to use it, it’s only going to be one of those components. Not the primary, you know, it’s not as if, if your site is a little bit slower but it has fantastic content, we’ll have to do that trade-off and make sure that we still show relevant content to users. However, what I’ve seen is that a lot of people look at the tools whether it’d be page speed or YSlow or the new tool that we rolled out in webmaster console and they found that just by making a few simple changes they can speed up their site by a factor of two-thirds or even 80%. And at the point where you can change one little flag flip and do Gzip, and suddenly your site is that hugely much more fast, it’s really pretty worth it because your users will notice that and they’ll keep coming back. So I think from a user standpoint, it does make sense to think about this because you can measure it, you can see very simple ways, you can often increase your website quite a bit in terms of speed. In terms of Google’s ranking, even if we do use it, it’ll be only 1 of 200 different signals that we use. So we’re not going to say, for example, make some bad choices just because a website is fast, you have to return that. We would never make that kind of a call, in my experience. So instead, you want to be thinking about it, it’s a factor, it can make a better user experience. But I wouldn’t obsess about it. I think it can be important for the user experience, though.

by Matt Cutts - Google's Head of Search Quality Team


Original video: