Google has been playing with the idea of making site speed a ranking factor for a while now. It started with the release of Google Caffeine in a sandbox for web developers and SEO’s to see how queries will be affected. Google says that Caffeine will allow Google to index sites faster and provide better results.
In a recent interview will Matt Cutts, he said that Caffeine will go live on one data center sometime before the holidays, and will be in the normal rotation. He also said that Caffeine will not go live on other data centers until sometime after the holidays to avoid upsetting webmasters as with the infamous Florida update back in 2003.
Cutts said that search engine rankings will not be as drastically affected as people think. He said that Caffeine is aimed toward making the web a better place for the average user and giving them the best experience possible.
However, the web development and SEO industry is split about how they feel about Caffeine. While some are praising the update, other are outraged and some are saying that they will abandon Google all together.The argument is should speed really count. Webmasters who have retail sites that are rather large and have a lot of custom coding and high quality images are saying no because they think that a poorer quality site will beat them out just because they load faster.
The counter argument is that connection speeds today are reaching excess of 100mb/s and there is no reason that any site should take more than 15 seconds to load. Back in the days of dial-up and slow DSL speeds, webmasters could get away with having a slow site because people were more patient then.
It is no doubt that Caffeine will add just another twist to the SEO and web development industry, but that is what the industry is based on. The web is always changing and those who are able to adapt will benefit.