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Google to penalise slow Web sites?

Should slow-loading Web sites be pushed down Google's search rankings? According to one Google engineer, possibly. The company is mulling the idea over

Should slow-loading Web sites be penalised in Google's search rankings for their lengthy load times? According to Google engineer Matt Cutts, it's a possibility. And the company is mulling the idea over.

In a recent interview with WebProNews, Mashable quotes Cutts as saying, "A lot of people within Google think that the Web should be fast, it should be a good experience. So it's sort of fair to say if you're a fast site, maybe you should get a little bit of a bonus. Or maybe if you have a really awfully slow site, users don't want that as much."

This is clearly just a musing, but an important one to pay attention to, because there's not necessarily a correlation between slow sites and poor content, nor fast sites and quality content. Should your insightful blog be ranked lower than others because you can't afford good hosting? Chances are you think not.

So why is such a controversial idea even surfacing? Cutts reckons it's to do with providing a better quality of Web browsing. Essentially, less waiting for pages to load means less frustration. But it could also mean quickly loading a page you don't want, before going back to Google to load a slower page you do want -- meaning you hit Google twice. And see twice as many ads. And that pays for Google.

Pardon us for not jumping for joy over this little idea. Although Cutts' view that it could make searches more productive is accurate, the very thought of penalising content for something out of the control of the content providers (slow servers, sluggish content database technology, limited server upload capacity and so on), is fearsomely anti-awesome.

Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.