Here's what I mean by that. If I use internal CSS, the page will load a bit quicker on the first time it is visited, but with external CSS a user can cache the document and load the rest of the site faster. Does Google take it on a page-by-page basis, ignoring caching, or will speeding up overall speeds throughout the site with one large CSS document be beneficial?

My priority is SEO rather than user experience in this case, due to the fact that in this instance the user experience difference will be relatively minimal, and I want to crank the SEO as hard as possible.

Thanks for the help!

  • Not sure why I got downvoted for asking a legitimate question, but alright. shrug Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 5:50
  • It happens, I'll vote up and make it even Stevens. Problem is a lot of Google questions are speculation and that could be why someone down votes. Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 8:08

2 Answers 2

My priority is SEO rather than user experience in this case

For what its worth the offical google line (as much as there is such a thing) seems to be that good user experience is good seo. I presume you have seen their vids? http://www.youtube.com/user/GoogleWebmasterHelp Matt Cutts and the gang often try to steer people away from getting caught up in optimizing just for search engines

I have had good results in increasing traffic by following Google's speed tips, have you seen these? https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/

going from 78 points to 92 points resulted in a 200% page view increase for one of our sites, though naturally your mileage may vary - also sadly we haven't replicated such a big boost on busier sites


There is stuff on the pagespeed about maximizing cache efficiency which will help 2nd views. things like mod_pagespeed extend cache life https://developers.google.com/speed/docs/mod_pagespeed/filter-cache-extend

But the other way to look at it, if there are no official guidelines from google about speed on 2nd views, then maybe it is not that important to them?

If you have fixed all of the high and medium priority stuff from insights https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights then from an SEO perspective you are probably better off spending your SEO time elsewhere (all the link profile, alt tags, etc that is scope for other discussions)

One big advice is about using a CDN, have you looked into that? I started with cloudflare on one site, and pageviews up 60% in the first week, but it is still early days.

  • nothing on 2nd viewings speeds though unless i missed it Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 23:35

Google Cache Resources for 2nd Page Views Unlikely

It is extremely unlikely that Google will cache resources due to the sheer amount of pages they spider each day (in the billions) and the fact they don't render the page the same way, they skim though it. I believe that Google will treat the first page view the most important since this is the hardest factor to achieve in terms of speed, its no good having a website that takes 10secs on first load, then 1sec on every other - people could click off before the 2nd view.

Always Aim for the First View Speed

However this doesn't rule out the possibility of them, and I don't think your find a confirmed answer on this... Generally it shouldn't be a problem... What you should be asking is the first page view fast? if its below 1.5secs you will see little gain in rankings for each 100ms shaved... If its a above 1.5secs then you have a issue. Treat the first view as you having 1.5secs to serve your content or your visitors will be bored, see any improvement on the 2nd view as a Brucy Bonus.

First Byte and DNS resolve time

Also what I will say is that using an external source for a CSS or any folder should only increase slightly in 'First Byte' time, this is for the DNS to resolve and for the server to response to the request. If the external source is responding slowly then its time to pick a new external source, also if its a CDN your using bare in mind that mirroring your files can take between 1 to 24 hours to get it across the globe so the nearest location is picked when viewing your site.

Testing your Byte Time and DNS resolve

Finally, normally to make a CDN worth while its best to stick as much as you can on it, so the first DNS resolve, and byte time is worth while. In order to test the dns resolve and byte time of your external source (CDN) simply make a HTML file that is around 50-100kb large. Simply fill it with Dummy content... Then using something like webpage test.

  • I guess in most cases fast first view == fast 2nd view!
    – CodeMonkey
    Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 14:22

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