The speed at which your website pages load is becoming increasingly important, as visitors get used to ever-faster connections. In the past, your server might have had all the time in the world to prepare the page content, because the speed of data transmission to the viewer was the limiting factor. Nowadays, that’s not the case. Visitors expect websites to show instantly, and many people aren’t prepared to give your page more than a couple of seconds to display in its entirety. It’s no good coming top in the search engine results if people who click on the result then click on the ‘back’ button five seconds later because all they’ve seen is a white screen.
This sort of data is too tempting for Google to ignore. If it sees its users who’ve clicked on your result then returning within seconds to click on someone else’s result, then it’s inevitably going to downgrade your site’s ranking. In addition, the search engine is only too aware that the ‘quality of the web experience’ is something it needs to play its part in promoting. The more people use the web, the more money it makes. So there’s a vested interest in directing people towards good sites which, amongst other things, respond quickly.
A new tool for Google Analytics users, the Google Site Speed Report, will help you to see how quickly your site is responding, and how the response speed might be changing over time. If it’s performing poorly, it might be time to investigate a new content management system or a new web host. Site speed is that important. A post on the Google Analytics Blog called Measure Page Load Time with Site Speed Analytics Report explains things in more detail. Running the Site Speed Report does require some code to be added to every page on your site, but if your website is delivered through a content management system, this is only a few minutes’ work for whoever created or maintains your website.