Google recently announced that they will soon start including landing page load time as a factor in determining Google AdWords Quality Score. Here are a few simple and easy tips designed to help anyone decrease their load times and speed up landing pages. I've listed just a few below but, feel free to comment with more if you'd like.
- Reduce or eliminate the number of session ID and arguments in landing pages.
- Use absolute URLs for dependencies.
- Use external CSS and move calls for external CSS to the top of the HEAD in your landing pages and just below the TITLE.
- "Prefectch" landing page image dependencies near the top of the HEAD in your landing page HTML.
- Keep page dependencies within the same domain. In other words, try to avoid framed content and/or any content dependancy residing at another domain from loading into your page.
- Remove unnecessary "white space" in HTML code including text that is "commented out".
- Avoid embedded Flash content in your landing pages, especially when content in Flash is being pulled from another source.
- Avoid animated gifs and unoptimized images of any type.
- Reduce the total number of images in your landing pages and specify their size in the src container.
- Reduce the size of images in your landing page by 10%.
- Use CSS instead of relying on "spacer.gif" or "clear.gif" images to style the look and feel of your landing pages.
- Allow caching when possible.
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. "
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."