Does Page Loading Time Matter?

Today’s Zits hit home in a way the cartoonist probably didn’t intend.

You see, Google Webmaster tools says it takes from 5 to 7.5 seconds to load this blog. Having run a bunch of tools to analyze what’s going on, most of the slowness is all the stuff going on in the right margin, although a degree of the variability may turn on how many graphics I’m showing on any given day. I’ve played some games with optimizing the code, thrown up some cache (although I think the googlebot gets the uncached version) and there is no doubt some more I can do to speed up the javascript a little, although trying to optimize javascript takes me out of my comfort zone.

But basically, either I accept that things will be slow here — slower than 70-85% of the pages google visits — or I start cutting the clock, the casualty count, the weather, and then some of the continually updated stuff like recent comments.

Given that most people read the site via RSS (hey, you’re missing out! come joint in on the comments!), does the stuff in the right margin even serve any purpose? Other than of course, I sort of like it that way?

I long ago stopped doing any of the promotional activities that help blogs get noticed. Traffic duly dropped, although it remains high enough to make both puzzled and happy. Page speed is said to be a factor that Google considers in ranking pages. Maybe I should bow to the search engine gods and drop the things that slow pages down the most?

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4 Responses to Does Page Loading Time Matter?

  1. Michael,

    The issue of page-load speed and its influence on googlebots — one I have not considered and, frankly, am barely equipped to consider given my Baby Boomer relationship with the technology (isn’t java script a written order for coffee?) — raises a larger question for me, as someone new to blogging:

    Why, exactly, do I do this?

    For 15 years or so, as a journalist, I was paid to write for publication. Now 15 years into a litigation practice, I’m still often paid to write, albeit the readership is far smaller, the advocacy is more naked, and the reader’s opinion makes considerably more difference.

    But blogging, that I have not quite figured out.

    I admit that I certainly check my stats, and having written, it’s nice to be read. Something about a lengthy comment string pleases, if ineffably. The map showing readers from Qatar to New Zealand, is nifty. But the goal, if there is one beyond having the chance to say what I damn please about what interests me, I have not quite nailed down.

    Doubtless there are blogs about blogging that might provide some guidance. (“Meta.” Is that the term I’m seeking?) Somehow I don’t think they’ll help.

  2. Just me says:

    If it helps, kill the clock and weather.

  3. John the cheap says:

    If you hadn’t said something, I never would have noticed. Of the sites I read regularly, Brad DeLong’s is the worst by far, just FYI by way of comparison.

  4. Omar S says:

    Those google specs may be a little deceptive. Some graphically intensive websites I’ve visited have a landing page with an “enter here” or “skip intro” tab that takes you to the main web page, which takes a significant time to load. No one but a select few at google know the inner workings of Google’s algorithm, which changes all the time, so there is no way of knowing if speed is truly a factor in their ranking. The NYT web page takes a while to load; however, it shows up close to the top when searching for “news.”

    If it matters to you, you can make the voices one link to another page and get rid of the weather.

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