Ever clicked on the top link in Google only to find a page that takes For-ev-er to load? Well, that page may not be a top site for long. Google is changing up how they are ranking websites and one of their new pieces of criteria is speed.
Google has recently released an entire sub-site to improve on website speed. The site includes a tools page which highlights among others Page Speed which is Firefox plugin for developers. The also showcase a new report in Webmaster Tools to show how quickly your site loads. Many of these tools give you stats about your site speed as well as suggestions on how to improve it. These suggestions include:
- Combining external files such as CSS style sheets
- Using image sprites or images optimized for the web
- Minimizing DNS lookups (content from other sites)
*This website embeds our Twitter feed, which requires an extra DNS lookup and can increase the load time. You will have to decide the importance of similar widgets for your site. We like our Twitter feed and Flickr pics, so we’ll take the small performance hit to keep those. But, we don’t include other widgets from most of our other social media profiles so we can speed up our blog. Finding the right balance for your site may take some testing and tough decisions, but speed is definitely something to keep in mind.
Social Search and Authority
Speed is very important to Google themselves. As the real-time web continues to change minute by minute, Google is beginning to bring some of that data into its results. You may have noticed that Google now displays twitter results at the top of some searches.
The first part of the ranking system is the time of the tweet. Google generally displays the most recent tweets first so searchers will have up-to-the minute results to their queries. This speed combined with link authority shapes how searchers can get the latest Glee news (or other important things of course).
As you can see, this search result shows twitter responses. While the exact science behind choosing tweets is not know, we do know that Google follows a similar model to their search results. Incoming links to a website can raise its ranking, and similarly more followers and incoming links to a Twitter profile can give that Twitterer more authority. There are similar theories out there, but we know that Google is ranking authority somehow.
The Facebook Factor
Google also has agreements with Facebook to bring your status updates and Facebook info to the Search Results as well. Before you freak out, yes, you can keep these things from the search engines using the Privacy features in Facebook. They have a dedicated page for Search Privacy Settings. I have mine set to Everyone, but I understand that may not work for you. Other options include Friends and Networks, Friends of Friends, and Friends Only. From the Search Privacy Settings you can preview your public profile, which will give you an idea of what information Google will see about you (see below).
Google can also use this public Facebook profile to show authority. If you do not have your own website, doing a vanity search may show your Facebook profile as the top result for your name. I have my personal website (JMO), but my Twitter feed and Facebook profile both rank above it because of the authority those sites carry. I urge you to search for your name to see where your social profiles rank.
Tips for you
What steps can you take to insure people find you fast?
- Setup your website in Webmaster Tools and use Google Chrome or the Page Speed plugin for Firefox to check your site speed.
- Follow the suggestions from those tools.
- Link to your Social Media profiles from your own website.
Google is still king of search engines and of how people can discover you. It’s up to you to make sure they can do that quickly.