In a recent post at Search Engine People, Stephanie Woods reports there's been chatter lately about Google's making page-load speed an important part of its algorithm. That should come as no surprise, she notes, as usability studies have shown time and again that Web users like speed. According to Woods, here's why page-load speed is more important these days than ever before:

  • From a usability point-of-view: If your pages take a long time to load, there's a good chance your site visitors will hit the back button on their browsers and click on the next relevant search result instead of waiting around for you.
  • From a search-engine spider's point-of-view: Reducing unnecessary chunks of code on a Web page makes a search-engine spider's job much easier. For efficiency's sake, it makes sense for Google to give this factor more weight.

To help you race to the top of search results, Woods offers these tips for improving your site's performance:

First, check whether your site is indeed fast enough. Use any of these free tools: the Google Page Speed Tool, Google Site Performance, YSlow, or Web Page Analyzer.

Proceed with caution when using embedded media. Don't overdo the use of embedded media like video, animation and audio, which slow down page-load speed. Also avoid resource-intensive Flash intros, Woods recommends.

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