A while ago, Google put a patent on analyzing domain registration as a part of a site's authority. The result was that the entire blogosphere and SEO industries began advising clients to register their domains for the maximum time. I even wrote about it recently.. and was rebuffed by good friend PJ Hinton from Compendium Blogware (see the comments).
Now Google is being a little more forward in its approach – with Matt Cutts dropping hints that Google might utilize page load times as a factor in ranking sites. While this sounds all warm and fuzzy, it honestly concerns me. Does this mean that only sites with deep pockets will be able to rank well in Google's index?
Is this Google's way of interfering with Net Neutrality? Or is it simply trying to save money? Imagine the savings to a company like Google when their crawlers are capable of crawling sites in a fraction of the time it takes now… the numbers are huge.
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:
- The web is becoming more complex.
- This requires Google to advance its technologies.
- That costs Google more money.
- The alternative is penalizing sites that perform slowly, requiring them to spend more and speed up their sites, reducing Google's costs.
- That doesn't make good PR, though.
- 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.
That said, site speed is important and I recommend people improve their sites' performance to reduce bounce rates and increase conversions. That decision is left to your business to evaluate and determine a return on investment for.
When Google begins doing this, it's no longer a business decision – it's a business requirement and will simply knock small businesses, regardless of their relevance, off the search engine results page. I don't believe it's fair – and it's the work of a monopoly. Monopolies get to make decisions that impact profit without consequences since there's a lack of competition.
Google may want to be careful on this one… Bing is looking much nicer every day (and I have it running in Safari!).