A great blog post over at ModernLifeisRubbish.co.uk yesterday about how good hosting can really help your Search Engine rankings and about how bad hosting and site optimization can cause you a lot of trouble.
Stuart Brown got onto this issue after discovering a little noticed set of statistics in Google’s Webmaster toolbox. Basically, Google is keeping track of how fast your pages load.
Heres how to find those stats:
- Login at https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/siteoverview
- Choose one domain to examine
- Click “Crawl Rate” under the “Diagnostic Tab”
- Click on the section called “Time spent downloading a page (in milliseconds)”
Under there you’ll find a graph of when your server has been operating particulary quickly and when its been slow. Especially on shared hosting, having a lot of visitors in a short space of time is likely to slow down your site. Sites on dedicated servers are much less likely to have these problems.
Our most popular blog post so far (about the differences between Drupal and Joomla) caused pages to load in nearly 4 seconds instead of just 0.1 or 0.2 seconds.
Why does this matter? Well, Search Engine love sites with high “usability” and a site that takes 10 seconds to load each page is not going to be in their good books. This site has a good rundown of server times and why they matter. In brief:
- 0.1 seconds is ideal
- 1 second is about the maximum acceptable time
- Over 1 second on a regular basis and you really need to optimize your site
How can you fix any problems? A great diagnostic tool is the OctaGate SiteTimer which tells you which images are too heavy and how long each item on the page takes to load.