Google is apparently quite keen on making the web faster. First there was the announcement of SPDY protocol and now there is some talk about how the underlying algorithm of Google has been changed,under the hood,Â in caffeine, to bring you faster and better search results.
Google’s Matt Cutts recently gave an interview to Mike of WebProNews, and in that, he discussed, amongst other things,Â an internal debate going on in Google about whether site speed should be factored in into the search rankings that Google uses to display search results.
Apart form the famous page ranking algorithm, Google currently uses about 200 factors to determine the order in which the results are displayed for a query term. The new idea is to use the time it takes to load a site as also a factor in the rankings, such that faster loading pages are pushed higher up the rankings while slower loading pages penalised.
The intentions are noble- to make the web faster and to force webmasters to take a hard and fast look at the design and structure of their websites. But I foresee practical problems.
First there should be some benchmark of how to measure site speed independent of the measuring location and the hosting location. Else if the loading speed of a site hosted in India is compared to loading time of a site hosted in US, where the test runs in US, then perhaps the site form US would have an unfair advantage.
I am concerned, because for ex, the site Cutts mentions WebPagetest, gives only US,UK or NZÂ locations as test locations; this essentially means that sites hosted in India are at a disadvantage.
Even if the testing is done locally in India, India’s poor Internet infrastructure may hinder the page loadings experienced by users and thus skew the results.
Does it mean Indian websites have no choice but to host their sites in the US if they want to enjoy the new SEO dynamics of increased site speed based page ranking?Â If Google implemented this, would you host your site in US to optimize site speed based SEO, even if your target audience is Indians, or would you still host it in India? Do let us know what you feel about this issue via comments!