Saturday, April 17, 2010

Sorting Search Results by Speed

Reports TechCrunch:

A week ago, Google announced a change to how its search rankings are calculated. This change will affect every business with a web presence. At the highest level, the change means that a website’s Google ranking will now be influenced by its speed. Faster websites now feature higher in search results, and slower websites drop down in the search results.

Google knows more about the search business than I do, of course, but I have to agree with the TechCrunch writer that this move is a little puzzling. While it would be nice for all Web pages to load faster, the Web is a heterogeneous place.

The writer cites the Web sites of local mom-and-pop stores, which are still likely to be your desired destination despite slow load times. I can think of a few other search queries that I wouldn't want influenced by page load times: when I was looking for grad schools, I wanted the school with the best program, not the one with the fastest Web servers.

On the other hand, if I'm searching for a current event such as the death of a celebrity, I might prefer the faster-loading pages, as I would expect the story to be much the same no matter where I read it.


Adam Gurri said...

I don't know. I think it's a good idea to make load speed one factor in search rank. I don't think it should be the factor, but I think that people are more likely to be happy with their search results if their load up faster rather than slower.

And the local mom and pop shop may a) have a website that's already known or b) do well by the other search criteria.

Adam Gurri said...

Just thought of another good reason to have speed as one of the factors for search rank--a lot of really spammy websites are very slow to load. This could be a simple way to keep that kind of site from rising up very high.

Greg Finley said...

Good point, though I would think there's a less-than-perfect correlation between load time and spamness. I wonder what other ways search engines use to filter out such sites.