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Google gives priority to fast ads

Search company gives priority and a price break to those with high-quality ads. Now Web page loading speed is a factor in that quality assessment.

Google on Wednesday added a new factor, Web page loading speed, to the criteria by which it judges which text ads to place next to search results.

The search company, which makes almost all its revenue from the text ads, gives a boost to advertisers with better ad quality. Google announced Wednesday that quality now includes a measurement of the loading speed of the Web page users see when they click on an ad.

"Starting today, this load time factor will be incorporated into your keywords' quality scores," Google said on its Inside AdWords blog. "Keywords with landing pages that load slowly may get lower quality scores (and thus higher minimum bids). Conversely, keywords with landing pages that load very quickly may get higher quality scores and lower minimum bids."

It may sound like a minor tweak, but a lot of money flows through AdWords, and minor changes affect a huge number of companies bidding for placement next to search results.

Higher-quality ads serve a variety of purposes, Google argues. For one thing, it means somebody who clicks an ad--the action that triggers payment to Google--are more likely to be satisfied. In the long run, higher quality also means that users might be less likely to ignore ads as irrelevant or annoying.

Early in its history, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin set down "10 things Google knows to be true," and one of them is "fast is better than slow."

Google warned in March that page-load speeds would factor into quality ranking and let advertisers see how they rated beginning in April.

For more details, see the detailed Google article for advertisers on page-loading speeds.