I am so relieved to finally see this confirmed.  https://www.seroundtable.com/google-site-speed-small-ranking-factor-29368.html.  I and many other SEO experts have been aware of this for years whilst others claimed fastest possible site speed was mission-critical for SEO.  It’s just not true.  Not borne out by the evidence at all.

See for yourself.

  • Check the pagespeed of the top 10 Google results for a particular keyword.
  • Are the results ordered from fastest to slowest? They aren’t right?

The top site may well even return poor site speed scores on website speed test service websites. Sure. Don’t have a slow website. That’s not good. No one likes watching a page take ages to load.  But don’t get caught thinking blazing fast websites speeds are the key to top rankings.

In recent years I have come across many websites built with an almost featureless CMS, functionality hamstrung in order to gain a .25 second speed gain. All in the name of SEO and higher rankings. Some SEO expert told them to do it. Having your website be as fast as possible was critical. The resulting difficulty and pain each website change or addition involved ensured the website progressed just far too slowly.  Too much ongoing work was required by the product team and engineers to create content. Too much freedom to write and create content was taken from the content authors.

THAT’S the speed problem most likely to impact your website’s SEO.  Being slow to get your content published. Being slow to create new content modules, because your product and tech team can’t get new features out quickly.

Not the .25 second speed increase you achieved by hamstringing your content team.

Many top rankings websites lack speed.  Amazon for one, trading functionality for speed over and over. Google is not such a mystery to unravel.  Much of the unravelling can be done by applying some common sense.

  1. Do people want slow websites?  No, they don’t.
  2. Do people want to visit a website that is .25 of a second faster than another, but which lacks the content they are seeking?  Also no.
  3. Will Google favour websites that are fast but lesser in all other ways, over websites better in all other ways? They won’t. Google is trying to return the best result for the search.  A slightly faster, lesser page, is not better.
  4. Is there evidence Google penalises slowish, useful, feature-packed websites? No. I mean… you’ve seen Amazon right? A whale beached at the top of most results.  Not fast.  Feature-packed.

Faster websites mean less crawling resources are needed by Google to index the web, so encouraging webmasters to be efficient with their website development is in their interests.  Google encouraged webmasters to improve their website speeds,  even announced it was part of their algorithm. They provided free tools for testing pagespeed. But presenting faster, less useful websites high in their results is not in Google’s interests. That would see them lose the battle to return the most relevant results, which would ultimately see users turning to other search engines.  Google didn’t get where they are by making those sorts of calls.

For a long time, Google kept quiet and watched as many webmasters misread the actual impact website speed had on rankings  Thankful these webmasters were reducing Googles costs with websites that were faster to crawl.  I think the reason for the public announcement by Google that speed is not really a factor is that they could see so many webmasters wasting too much time on this rather than spending time on more important factors.  

Yes.  A .25 second page speed increase might see your website jump from position 123 to 122 on Google,  for your most important keyword….but it’s not going to be a factor taking it from position 25 to position 1.  Or from position 3 to position 2 for that matter.

So my takeaway from this.

  • Make sure you are fast.
  • Fast to get your website content up.
  • Fast to offer lots of useful web features to your site users.
  • Fast to get the word out to people about your website.
  • Fast… enough.. with your website speed to not annoy people.
  • Fast to improve your site navigation and UX.
  • Fast to examine other sites in your niche and see they rank better, not because they are faster, but because they are better.
  • And be fast to realise a fast website is just not nearly as important as you might have been led to believe.

SEO Experts, and Speed
If your “SEO Expert” has been toting the importance of page speed, whilst not providing solutions for link building, PR, content strategies, product improvements, user experience upgrades, reviews, structured markup and more.

If they don’t have a clear plan for how you should take on the competition and are prepared to back their strategy with promised results?

Be fast to find a new SEO expert.