Does Page Load Time influence SEO?

Does the amount of time it takes for a page to load in a browser influence search engine rankings for pages? Should it?

If it did, might sites that were all text show up higher in search results than sites that included pictures and different applications? Or, might a search engine find a way to account for different types of sites, and the amount of time it might take them to render in a browser, based upon actual user data in addition to the amount of time it takes a site to render in a browser?

A recent patent application from Yahoo explores ways that a search engine might consider the amount of time it takes different types of pages to render and other issues involving how quickly pages respond to a visits in ranking, classifying and crawling those pages.


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Search Engines Evaluating Search Results

Meta descriptions for web pages likely don’t influence the rankings of your web pages in search results. But if your meta descriptions include keywords that your pages might be found for, they may be displayed in search results with links to those pages. If those meta descriptions are interesting and engaging and provide the right information, they may influence people who view them and are interested in what you offer to visit your pages.

When someone searches at a search engine, they are usually presented with a list of search results, often referred to as SERPS – search engine result pages, that can include page titles, abstracts or snippets from those pages, and URLs from the pages. The abstracts or snippets may sometimes be part or all of the meta descriptions for the pages if the meta descriptions contain the keyword or keywords used by searchers in their queries.

But, a search engine might just as easily take that snippet from somewhere else on the page returned in search results. How does a search engine evaluate search results that it might show?

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My Favorite Travel Site

My favorite travel site doesn’t have a database filled with thousands of hotels or cruises or flights. My favorite travel site doesn’t use words like “amenities,” and it doesn’t change prices on me depending upon the time of day, day of week, week of month, or month of year.

There’s no fancy content management system, live support chat, keyword stuffing of page titles or headings or content, and the word “cheap” doesn’t appear in that title the way that it does in most of the pages that you’ll see if you search for “travel” in one of the major search engines.

The word “sale” doesn’t show up once on my favorite travel site, and I’m not bombarded with information about how much of a percentage I’ll save on my journeys. There’s no inexplicable lawn gnome, or standard stock image of an operator with a headset, or Canadian celebrity, or “top deals” or “packages” on its pages.

If you visit my favorite travel site, you may find yourself imagining that you can smell the salt air wafting through your windows. You may find yourself hearing people enjoying shops and cafes and life, echoing through roads empty of cars, filled with laughter and joy much like they were centuries ago. You may not feel like a tourist at all.

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How a Search Engine Might Determine Search Engine Relevance from Related Queries

It’s interesting to see how a search engine might try to calculate the relevance of search results, and find related queries

A recently granted Yahoo patent investigates an approach that might help it identify how relevant the results it displays to searchers might actually be, and how likely those results are to show a variety of results when a searcher uses a query term that might cover a range of topics.

Before presenting their automated approach for checking relevance and variety, the patent tells us about some of the limitations it sees in using manual reviews or clicks data for determining how relevant results might be.

Human Reviewers

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How Search Engines May Decide Upon and Optimize Query Suggestions

Choosing the right words to search with can sometimes be difficult, especially when you search for information about a topic that you don’t know much about. This can be true regardless of whether you might be searching for information on the gravitational effects of binary stars on each other, or the best way to groom a certain breed of dog, or different approaches for making your own homemade icecream.

When you enter some words for your query in a search box, and hit enter, you’ll often see some suggested or related searches in addition to links and descriptions of pages that may be relevant for your search. These suggestions might be at the top of the search results, at the bottom, to one side or another, in the middle of results, or in any or all of those locations.

For example, when I search for [salt water fishing] at the major search engines, I see a number of related terms and other suggestions for my searches.

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