Google announced on Friday that they have officially incorporated site speed into their algorithm as a factor in rankings, see their blog post about it at Google Rankings and Site Speed, Matt Cutts elaborates more on this issue here.
All in all, site speed should always be our concern since slow loading pages drive visitors away, but now that it is definitely going to affect rankings we really need to check and monitor our site speed to be sure that they are at their optimal speed. While Google does confirm that site speed is not as important as the relevance of a page or other factors for rankings and that all in all they surmise that less than 1% of rankings will be affected by this you still ought to check your sites to make sure that they are loading quickly, again mainly for the traffic that comes through.
It's a fact that website speed can have a big impact on conversions and overall site ROI, all other factors being equal simply because you keep visitors longer on your site. Most Internet users are instant gratification junkies, they want to zip through pages, and not wait around while your site is trying to load. And statistics show that visitors tend to stay on a site longer when it loads quickly and overall provides them with optimal performance.
Tools To Check Website Speed
- Page Speed - I have talked about this one before, and it's a very effective Firefox/Firebug add-on that evaluates the speed of web pages and provides suggestions for improvement.
- YSlow - This is a free Yahoo tool that offers suggestions to improve speed, also uses a Firefox add on.
If you don't use Firefox and other tools
- Use your Google Webmaster Tools account - Go to Labs then Site Performance and see a graph of your site's speed performance.
- AOL Page Test - Free tool to measure and analyze website performance.
- BrowserMob - Alerts and monitoring of website pages.
- IntroSpectrum - Online tool that actually simulates your traffic's experiences on your sites via their web browsers.
- Microsoft VRTA - This one provides visualizations of web site loading and provides suggestions for improvements.
- MySpace Performance Tracker - This tool is for Internet Explorer browsers and displays possible issues and problems that will affect load times and performance.
- WebPagetest - This one is pretty neat and offers a waterfall of your page load time and performance along with a comparison against an optimization checklist.
More In Depth Tools for Site Speed and General Site Performance
- Pylot - Free and runs HTTP load tests, verifies server responses, and generates reports with metrics.
- Wbox - Performs a variety of tests, including, site speed, server and web application stress testing. Also verifies the proper configuration of domains configuration, HTTP compression, and redirects.
- mon.itor.us - This tool offers a personalized and customized Ajax dashboard that checks server performance and availability, tracks all traffic, generates up time reports, checks CPU, memory as well as various other systems resources, and offers alerts whenever problems are detected.
Improved Page Speed for WordPress Blogs
If you are like me and other bloggers and those of us that use WordPress to build money sites or any kind of small niche sites then please check out WP Super Cache plugin. Often times blogs get over loaded with all those cool plugins, badges, and social bookmark and Twitter submission buttons we love to use and they can really affect WordPress blog speed and load times. WP Super Cache works great to improve the speed of blogs no matter how many frills you have.
Another great cache plugin for WordPress is W3 Total Cache. This is a complete caching program that offersa options to speed up via cache several elements of WordPress, such as, Page Cache, Browser Cache, Database Cache, minification of code via Minify settings for CSS and JS. There are a lot of options in this plugin and it works really well.