Your Google PageRank may soon depend how fast your site loads – Why?

Google has been making a lot of news over the past while about how it wants to help speed up the web; and as nice as that might be it has gotten more than a few people wondering why.

This last week saw the announcement that the company was working on a new protocol that would sit on top of the standard HTTP protocol. The idea behind SPDY is to help reduce latency and make the overall page surfing experience a little faster.

Not long after that Google’s Matt Cutts has an interview with Mike McDonald from WebProNews were Matt lets the world know that Google is seriously looking at making the page load time a part of the algorithm used to calculate a web site’s PageRank. The idea being that the faster your site loads the better that will affect your overall score as calculated by Google and the better placement you’ll have in search results.

Interesting idea – except why is there this sudden concern with how fast pages load?

Granted we all have heard about how fanatical Google can be about page load times since the faster their pages load the more searches they can deliver. On the flip side however there is the time that it takes for the Google crawlers to index, and update, all that data out there. In this aspect of the search game they are often at the mercies of the designers of websites.

So if Google can get everyone to do everything they can to make their pages load faster it means that Google’s crawlers can do their job in the fraction of the time thus saving Google an incredible amount of money. Of course it benefits site owners as well to do what they can to increase page load speed but is Google’s rewarding faster loading sites with a better rank the right way to do this?

Douglas Karr from Marketing Tech Blog doesn’t think so and he goes as far as to suggest that this is leaning to being evil.

So, as one of the wealthiest companies in the world, Google is beginning to drop the hint… hard. Make your sites faster and we’ll reward you with better ranking. This is fantastic for companies with the infrastructure, capacity and resources… but what happens to the little guy? How does a small personal blog hosted on GoDaddy for a few dollars compete with a company hosted on a platform that costs thousands of dollars with loadsharing, caching, web acceleration or cloud technologies?

In my humble opinion, I think it leans the evil side. Let’s break it down:

  1. The web is becoming more complex.
  2. This requires Google to advance its technologies.
  3. That costs Google more money.
  4. The alternative is penalizing sites that perform slowly, requiring them to spend more and speed up their sites, reducing Google’s costs.
  5. That doesn’t make good PR, though.
  6. Instead, Google does it in under the auspices of enhancing the web experience.

It’s not about you and me. It’s about Google’s bottom line.

Personally I think Douglas makes a valid point and one well worth thinking about.