It has been a couple years now since page speed has been an official Google ranking factor and one year since the launch of PageSpeed Online, the Web-based version of Google’s tool for analyzing site performance.
So I thought I’d check in on the PageSpeed scores for a selection of major news sites.
Page speed is not a major ranking factor (according to Google it impacts roughly 1 in 100 searches) but it does have a direct and indirect impact not only on SEO but also on social media activity and the overall user experience. For these reasons it is something that is worth paying attention to.
For this year’s comparison I started with the group of sites I looked at last year (see Google Page Speed Ratings One Year Later) and added in the majority of sites from News Organizations on Google+: Which Pages Get the Most Engagement?
For the sake of simplicity I pulled PageSpeed Online scores for the home page of each news site. PageSpeed scores are on a 0-100 scale with a higher number indicating better performance.
Here are the fastest – and the slowest – news sites in 2012:
|Home Page||Page Speed Score
|2||Mail Online (US home page)||94|
|T-5||The Washington Post||90|
|T-11||The Huffington Post||89|
|T-13||The Wall Street Journal||88|
|T-13||The Next Web||88|
|20||The Daily Beast||85|
|T-21||The Christian Science Monitor||84|
|T-23||The Guardian (US home page)||83|
|T-25||Financial Times (US home page)||81|
|T-33||The Fiscal Times||79|
|T-33||The Times (UK)||79|
|T-38||Los Angeles Times||77|
|T-41||New York Magazine||75|
|T-41||The New York Times||75|
|47||Al Jazeera English||62|
Yahoo! News is the winner, coming in with a very high score of 96. The UK’s Mail Online and Business Insider round out the top three with similarly high scores.
The top 10 all received scores of 90 or higher with six sites tied for fifth place.
It is not surprising to see sites like Business Insider, TechCrunch and Mashable in the top group (and The Huffington Post close at #11) but it was good to see some traditional news organizations make it in there too. Their sites sometimes lag behind due to a legacy CMS or other site architecture issues.
I didn’t expect to see NPR near the bottom of the table as their home page appears to load rather quickly in my own browser. But I checked it a few times and as you’ll see below 67 is actually an improvement over last year.
Whenever I do a search or social media comparison post for news sites The New York Times tends to be near the top of the group. But site speed is one area in which the competition has a leg up.
Note that for The Daily Mail, The Guardian and The Financial Times the PageSpeed tool was redirected to the URL for the US version of their home page. So the US URLs were used in the comparison.
One-Year Gains and Losses
Since I did a similar exercise with a smaller group of news sites last April I can also provide some data on changes in site speed over the past year.
Keep in mind that the content and particularly the advertisements on a home page are frequently changing so the PageSpeed scores will regularly fluctuate too.
But capturing scores at periodic intervals does provide a general sense of whether the pages are performing better or worse than previously.
Among the smaller sampling of news sites here are the home pages that have seen the greatest YoY improvement:
|Home Page||Page Speed Score|
|Page Speed Score|
|3||The Washington Post||90||68||32.4%|
|5||The Times (UK)||79||64||23.4%|
|7||The Huffington Post||89||77||15.6%|
|8||Los Angeles Times||77||67||14.9%|
|9||The Christian Science Monitor||84||74||13.5%|
|18||The New York Times||75||71||5.6%|
|19||The Wall Street Journal||88||84||4.8%|
Reuters should probably be put into a special category since its home page score of 20 last year was bizarrely low (I recall checking that one several times to confirm it). They may have been having some kind of technical issue at the time that has since been resolved.
Among the rest of the group all but one site received a higher score this year. Two sites had 30%+ gains, two had 20%+ gains and the top 12 all improved by 10% or more.
Only The Telegraph saw a drop in home page PageSpeed; 18.6% is a considerable decline.
I’ve checked that one a few times but it continues to receive a 70. They were having an odd 404 issue with their home page yesterday which was resolved before I pulled these scores, but perhaps there are still lingering issues.