This post was going to talk about Facebook and Linkedin advertising as I believe them to be the next big thing in online marketing, however the news in the last few days that page loading times would be taken into account when determining SERPs (Search Engine Ranking Positions) by Google is too big not to talk about!
Traditionally Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) has been all about two main factors: Relevance and Authority. Relevance refers to how relevant a particular page or site is to a particular subject, for instance if a site talking about football has been well written and optimised, Google will know that it is primarily about football, and therefore when someone searches for Football, it will appear somewhere in the results. The other factor is authority, authority refers to the democratic nature of the web; Google sees each link to a site or page as an endorsement of that page. If the link is from a relevant source it will be seen as a high powered link, if it comes from an irrelevant source, it will be seen as a low powered, or even an irrelevant link (sorry link farmers, you are worthless!) To give you an example of a relevant link, a client of mine is a solicitor, a link from a leading legal journal will be seen as relevant, a link from some link farm will not. I obviously have simplified both areas here, Google use a very complicated algorithm to determine SERPs, but up till now the broad factors explained above sum it all up nicely.
Now of course, Google are taking into account site load times as the third factor. This obviously will give sites a natural advantage or disadvantage with regard to their Search Engine Optimisation depending on how well the site has been built, how much content their is on each page, and how good the server is that the site is hosted on.
My opinion, is that while it will be difficult for existing sites to take advantage of this when looking to improve their optimisation without a significant technical overhaul, when an organisation or business owner commissions a new site they should take into account the quality of their hosting provider and the methods their design/ development agency use when building the site to make sure the new site is fast loading, this should ensure thet get a natural advantage when compared to their competitors who haven’t taken this into account.
If you would like to test your own website, http://www.webpagetest.org is very good and thorough. If you would like help evaluating how your site is performing from a speed or Search Engine Optimisation point of view, then please do get in touch, I’d be delighted to have a chat!