What is the Average Load Time of Your Website?

I am pretty certain that after reading the title of this post that you thought about the speed of your site but couldn’t pin it to a precise number because it is a metric you never worry about.  Well, it is time to start paying attention to this site metric, because it may be a factor in your rankings in Google in 2010.

google-webmaster-tools-site-performanceGoogle recently announced a new experimental feature in Google Webmaster Tools that will allow you to see your average site load time.  Google will analyze your site load time as compared to other sites on the Internet, using data gathered via the Google Toolbar.  Google then shows some sample page load times as well as suggestions for optimizing the speed of the site.

“On average, pages in your site take 2.0 seconds to load (updated on Jan 10, 2010). This is faster than 67% of sites.”

The most common types of recommendations I have seen on some sites include but are not limited to:

  • Enabling gzip compression
  • Combining external JavaScript
  • Minimizing DNS lookups (this means minimizing the calls to external service scripts such as ShareThis, ReCaptcha, Gravatar or any other external services  you may be referencing)
  • Combining CSS files

You can also use the Page Speed plugin to get an even more in depth look at other areas that you can tweak in order to improve your page load time. Or if you just want to see how long it takes to load each object within your page, you can use the free tool at from Pingdom.

If you want to learn about best practices for site load performance, I suggest starting here.

The page speed project within Google Code has been around longer, but Google seems to really be putting an emphasis on this metric and encouraging webmasters to pay attention as well.  Granted, I haven’t seen evidence that they are currently using this as a ranking metric, but it is always possible that this could become one of their more than 200 ranking factors if it hasn’t already.  So it is time to start getting familiar with your site’s page speed and make the necessary changes to give you a competitive advantage.  Even if they don’t base your rankings on this data, studies do show that faster loading sites lead to a better user experience so it is definitely worth your efforts.

  • http://www.SEO-writer.com David of seo-writer

    I am pretty sure that load times and code bloat have always been part of the algorithm. I suspect that Google is just bringing attention to this or that they are taking it more seriously than before. Or, they are simply giving us tools to address problems, so we are hearing more about it.

  • http://www.cbecompany.com/Roswell%20GA.htm chris the roswell el

    who would think that page load time would be a ranking factor? I guess it goes back to google being concerned with the quality of the user experience while on the site

  • http://www.rahulgladwin.com RG

    My guess is, G prefers faster loading websites. However, most of the fastest websites are located on dedicated servers, so that gave rise to the myth that G prefers websites hosted on dedicated servers (static IPs). I wonder what is considered a good loading time?

  • http://www.vizioninteractive.com Mark Barrera

    RG – To be considered 'fast', by Google, your page should load in about 1.5 seconds. You can see in the image in this post that above that point, you are in the 'red' zone.

  • http://diywebguide.com Sam Fenstermacher

    So many different factors effect page load times. I read somewhere recently that a very popular web browser downloads CSS files in serial, that is, they come to your browser one at a time. Ouch!

    Where your site is hosted is important. If eighty percent of your audience is in Texas, why host your site in California or Utah? The Internet is fast, but it's also congested. The Vizion Interactive site, for example, serves from one of the biggest hosting providers on the planet. With a huge data center in Dallas, page load times are blazing fast in this geographic region and plain fast in the rest of the country.

    Great post, thank you!

  • http://agloco-blog.squarespace.com/seo-training Becky Joubert

    When pages load slow for me, I always think that it's my computer, not the site, or not my site that's at fault. But, I do agree that it's annoying, whatever the cause, and I'm willing to take measures to create a faster site, like the plugin and your other suggestions.