AdWords Load Time & Flash Sites

First reported by AussieWebmaster and jkwilson, Google will soon add "load time" to their list of criteria for Google's AdWords Quality Score. In a new version of the Google AdWords FAQ posted prematurely by accident and then removed late Wednesday Google said:

"Beginning in February 2008, you'll be able to see a grade for your website's load time in your AdWords account. 'Load time' refers to the amount of time it takes for a user to arrive at your functional landing page after clicking your ad. Several weeks after your load time grade becomes visible, it will begin to impact your landing page quality and, therefore, your Quality Score. We recommend working to improve your load time during this interim if it's received a low score."

All this talk of website load time made me wonder if Google had updated what it considers a "reasonable" amount of time for a page to load. According to the AdWords learning center 4 seconds still seems to be Google's standard."Make sure your page loads quickly — under four seconds if possible. Slow load times deter visitors from staying. "
- http://www.google.com/adwords/learningcenter/text/19428.html

So, what sites will be the most negatively impacted? Obviously sites that take the longest time to load. And what sites take the longest to load? One word, FLASH! If you have an all Flash site I would consider steps to speed things up and quick. In addition I would consider limited use of Flash as well as increasing content in HTML. Hmmm... I feel like I've said that before oh yeah, I have. : )

Either way, as I said at SearchEngineWatch.com:

"Interesting that load time is now part of quality score since the factor has always been important at Google. After all, load time is one reason why Google's homepage seems so simple. I understand that in the early days, Larry was known to count the number of words on Google's home page daily as well as to check it's speed using a stopwatch. In fact the content at the bottom of the page was added after early user testing because participants sat waiting for the rest of the page to load....

Oh well sorry for the history lesson, I'm a little surprised it's taken this long to be added or "officially" at least. Either way I think this step is great for users."

- beu