Google Page Load Speed Not Determined How We Thought
April 13, 2018
In March, at the Munich Search Marketing Expo, Google opened up about search engine speed checking and how it’s done. It’s not what we all thought. In fact, it might be that Google uses their Googlebots for much less than originally assumed. Once upon a time, it seemed common knowledge that site speed was evaluated by the little search bots sent out to checkup on other search engine optimization facts, such as link usage and mobile-friendly content.
Unlike content investigation, however, site speed is different for each user, making it difficult to determine by crawling alone. Google has always made an effort to obtain the most up to date and honest interpretation of every website they visit, so it makes sense that the search engine giant would use more direct tactics to understand site speed the way that real users view it.
How Page Speed is Evaluated
The way that a page is evaluated in terms of speed comes down to the time it takes to download all the material available. This is usually measured out in milliseconds and is slower or faster depending on the size of files being collected. For example, high definition images, videos, and other content which might take longer to download will bog down and slow the site loading experience.
Web Rendering Services used by Googlebot were the obvious resource for this measurement, but despite all that WRS can do, its limitations made it clear that this was not the way Google was learning site speed from its users. This was confirmed by Gary Illyes of Google, recently, when Gary posted through the social media platform, Twitter.
Mr. Illyes didn’t specify during the conversation exactly what measures the speed, just that it wasn’t the job of WRS to do so. WRS had a separate function, or many separate functions, unrelated to the speed determination.
So, what does provide this insight to Google if not findings from crawler bots? Well, the idea is that this information comes specifically from user data. Some, but not all, users report their usage to Google via data reports. Google uses this information to determine how the site is working, whether there are bugs to fix, etc. One of the types of information delivered to Google through these reports is the speed at which users see information loading on their devices. These metrics regarding loading speeds help Google identify, on average, the way that certain sites load for users.
Search Marketing Expo Announcement
As mentioned above, it was mentioned at the Search Marketing Expo in Munich back in March that Google does indeed evaluate speed based on these data metrics. Other data is also used to determine load speed; this is in part due to the limitations provided by users on whether they allow Google to collect this information. Therefore, not all websites can be weeded out in this way.
The response to this information has been mainly positive, as it opens the doors to SEO providers to use alternative resources to increase ranking. For example, currently, most tactics involve revamping websites to be more crawler-friendly in the hopes of encouraging a positive rating by these bots. The fact that loading speed, which is an important piece of ranking data, is not determined by bots means that there are other ways website owners can encourage higher rankings for their sites through Google and other search engine giants.
What This Means for Site Owners
Of course, site loading speed is only a small part of the much larger and complicated search engine algorithm put in place by Google, which calculates ranking of each site as it is searched. When a user types a keyword or phrase into a query bar, the results which come up first are expected to be the most relevant, most used, most linked to, most authentic, fastest loading, and sometimes, most mobile friendly results.
To give Google a closer look at your loading speed, remember to opt into data sharing, in terms of sending Google reports on your website’s speed. If you’re unsure about whether your site meets required criteria to rank highly based on loading speed, be sure to test your speed regularly. You can test site speed by using any one of many testing websites designed to show you the progress of your website as it loads. You can speed things up by changing code, removing large files, such as videos, and by making site features more mobile-friendly.
This is a small fragment of information on how Google determines ranking position, but every little bit of information helps when you’re in the online world. It also helps increase traffic and, in turn, revenue. Research has shown that internet users who visit a website are more likely to exit a site and head onto the next if the site doesn’t load properly within the first 3-seconds after clicking on a link or typing an address into the address bar. If your site is falling behind, it could be worth your while to invest in better speeds, particularly if the website is linked to the success of your business, or if you’re involved in ecommerce.
The Google algorithm has always been bathed in mystery, and while many of the factors that go into rankings have been divulged in one way or another, it’s still not completely understood as to what is expected of website designers to create the perfect site.