The issue of web page download speed was brought to the local search engine optimization limelight by google recently when they announced that they are weighing it in rankings as part of what they call “Caffeine”. I like this; Google is, in effect, putting pressure on webmasters to improve the web searcher’s experience. I think it will have far reaching effects.
How to Measure Page Speed
Google has a application called page speed. It runs on Firefox. You first download something called “Fire bug” and install and then download and install “page speed”. Page speed gives the page you are analyzing a score from 0-100. It also gives very detailed suggestions for improving the page download time.
The google page speed score doesn’t tell you how long the download time is. And this effected by things other than just server side stuff anyway. (Slow connection for example) But if google is putting this analysis tool out there I would guess that a high score will be helpful for SEO. Also, I’m sure it does correlate with download speed to a pretty high degree.
The average score on the web for top ranking websites was 80. A score of 80 may be a good benchmark to shoot for in general from a user experience stand point.
But from an SEO stand point you need to look at the competition. The test needs to be run on the sites that are ranking above you and just under you on the results page who are competing to get your spot. So the score for SEO purposes really only matters in relationship to your SEO competition.
NetLocal is using a page speed score of 80 as a standard for our client’s websites to assure good usability. From what we can see this beats out most of our clients SEO competition as well. But if need be we work to improve our client’s score when an extra push is needed.