Friday, 16 April 2010

Speeding your way to SEO

Google has announced that it is now including site speed in the metrics it uses to calculate page ranking. There is a story on the BBC web site which links to the page on the Google webmaster blog.

Basically what Google are saying is that users like web pages that load quickly. I personally prefer pages that start to load quickly as well; ones that show some signs of life.

The comments on the Google blog post are interesting. One blog-commenter points out that Google analytics can itself slow a page down as the JavaScript it uses loads from an external site. In fact many pages build in material from numerous sources, especially now that so much content is dynamically generated using Ajax and the like. We have come a long way from simple HTML where only one web server (plus the DNS to find the domain name) was involved in a transaction.

A web site is already very asynchronous, meaning that the various parts of it will be loaded simultaneously rather than queuing and waiting for each other to finish loading, even if all the component parts are coming off a single server. But there is more that could be done, especially in back-end coding. Think about the way your code works ... can any parts of it be forked off independently? Does your environment allow you to do this? What are the risks if some of those forks don't finish for some reason?

And if you are involved in SEO, what new factors should you take into account?