Check your page downoad speed.Somewhere within Google, there’s an organization known as the “Make the Web Faster” initiative. It’s based on the belief that the faster pages load in your browser, the better. People are no longer content to sit drumming their fingers while waiting for a web page to display. Slow web pages are a user turn-off, and we’ve written before about how that can affect your rankings, at least in Google. In fact, Google’s position on this is clear from this statement:

“At Google, we’re obsessed with speed – we measure it, pick it apart, think about it constantly.  It’s even baked into our quarterly goals.”

We include page download speed issues in optimization recommendations for our clients, and wrote about a tool Google created called “Page Speed” to help webmasters identify specific speed issues and which suggests how to fix them.

Recently, Google announced a great new tool – sort of the next generation page speedup technology:

We just launched a new open-source Apache module called mod_pagespeed that any webmasters can use to quickly and automatically optimize their sites. (It’s like Page Speed, but makes the changes automatically.)

Google says this new tool can double the speed of web page downloads, and do it automatically. It’s not something the typical business owner should mess with, as it’s a bit technical. But you ought to make your webmaster aware of the tool if you have any slow pages on your site. Google describes it this way:

mod_pagespeed includes several filters that optimize JavaScript, HTML and CSS stylesheets. It also includes filters for optimizing JPEG and PNG images. The filters are based on a set of best practices known to enhance web page performance. Webmasters who set up mod_pagespeed in addition to configuring proper caching and compression on their Apache distribution should expect to see an improvement in the loading time of the pages on their websites.

The improved user experience will contribute to your conversion rate, and the prospect of ranking higher in Google as a by-product is nothing to sneeze at. Here’s Google’s page for mod_pagespeed.