Actually, page load times are important full stop, but on June 8th, Google finally announced that Google caffeine is ready for the world. (See our previous blog posts on Caffeine here) Google is now looking at a huge increase in being able to deliver their mantra – QDF, Query Demands Freshness. (See Tip #39 in our SEO book)
So, now the Google index is updating more frequently, your website is up against even more competition as Google endeavours to index the real-time Web. One of the factors which will help you to achieve better search engine rankings with Caffeine is how long your page takes to load as compared to your competitors’ sites.
There are several tools to help you monitor your website’s performance and to give you tips for improving it.
To judge your page load times, you can use InternetSeer which will send you a free weekly report on uptime and page load times, or Vertain which will permit you to run a free speed test and explain what can cause slow speeds generally.
If you are feeling techy, you can download Firebug which is a Firefox plug-in and will help you to analyse your page for different problems that may be slowing down page load, or use Google’s Page Speed which is also a Firefox plug-in.
There are multiple other tools, and all will help you to discover whether your pages are running at optimum speed and if not, why not. However, you should also consider your hosting company as part of the potential problem (if there is one) because the environment your website is hosted in can also make a difference to page load speed.
Once your site is downloading as quickly as possible to your site visitors, whatever connection they may be on, then you can begin to consider all the other factors that affect your search engine rankings and visitor satisfaction! Are you ready….?!