Page loading speed and SEO

There is a lot of SEO magic tricks available out there.  Some really meaningful ones and a lot of black magic ones that are never a good idea.  SEO Doctor firefox plugin is a great one to help identify SEO changes you can make on your pages.  I highly suggest reading the Googles whitepaper on SEO.  This should be your first read if you are just getting into SEO.  There are two important things to point out in that document that will trump all other methods.  Unique content is king and page loading speed is probably queen.  If you have a high volume website with a lot of pages I highly recommend paying attention to your error logs, any server usage stats, and I think most importantly Google Webmaster Tools.  In GWT you can see how well your sitemaps are indexed and look at crawl stats.  It’s my belief it doesn’t matter what your server stats say, it matters what Google says.  If Google says your site is slow, they are likely not crawling it as fast, or the very least they are dinging you, which affects you page rank.  It’s right in the document from the horses mouth.  One of my site recently experienced some major slowdowns, ironically enough from getting hammered by web crawlers.  Days later I discovered the consequences in GWT in that the number of pages indexed had dropped by a significant number.  The numbers have since starting increasing, but the warning is real; if your site is too slow you will pay the price.

Lessons to be learned?

  • Pay attention to your server and GWT stats.
  • Trying to go cheap on your hosting can actually cost you much more money then your saving.  For high earning sites this CANNOT be ignored.
  • Real people, not unlike robots, don’t appreciate slow sites.
  • Make sure you understand the trending of your site and if you see your crawl stats (pages/day) increasing make sure you have extra ram on your VPS to accommodate any traffic surges, organic or from crawlers.

One quick note of interest:  Google just release an Apache plugin that can decrease load times by 50%.  I notice the difference on my sites.

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