It looks like Google may expand on its quest for a faster web by incorporating a site’s page speed into Google’s SEO ranking algorithm. In an interview with WebProNews, Google’s Matt Cutts says this of faster sites: “It should be a good experience, and so it’s sort of fair to say that if you’re a fast site, maybe you should get a little bit of a bonus.”
Google AdWords’ ranking algorithm has incorporated page speed since May, 2008. In my talk at Velocity 2009, Shopzilla first talked about the impact speed had on the AdWords rank for one of our UK sites. As you can see in the graph, with a 4 second improvement in page load speed we saw a more than 100% improvement in the sessions coming from our SEM program. As we’ve rolled out our new site infrastructure for the rest of our European sites, Shopzilla has continued to see positive results. With results so dramatic and closely correlated with our change in page loads, our European sites seemed to have been in some sort of AdWords “penalty box”. However, we were never able to get an understanding of the exact dynamics between our page speeds and quality score. In other words, your mileage may vary.
Of course, there is no indication of the actual impact of Google including page speed in their SEO ranking, but the implications could clearly be huge. While many of us believe that high performance is a competitive advantage, this possible move from Google shows they really mean business in their quest for a faster web.
I have an absolute obsession for building fast web sites at internet scale. Good thing, because high performance sites are good for the bottom line.
I’m the VP of Engineering for Shopzilla, one of the largest and most comprehensive comparison shopping networks on the planet. Each day millions of consumers shop for virtually anything via our websites Shopzilla.com, Bizrate.com and Beso.com and our publisher network. Delivering content to millions of users per day, 1,000′s of times per second – FAST – is one of the most interesting technical challenges of my career.
As you’ll see on Shopzilla’s tech blog, at Shopzilla we have conclusively shown that faster websites are good for business. As it turns out, time is Money. From large eCommerce sites like Shopzilla, to major search engines such as Google and Bing, the industry has proven that faster web sites result in a better consumer experience, deeper engagement, and ultimately a boost to the bottom line.
This message is starting to be heard – largely due to the efforts of Steve Souders and several other key names and companies that are now talking about the real value of performance. I have recently had the opportunity to join the performance discussion by sharing the very positive business impact we’ve seen at Shopzilla from our investment in a fast web site experience. Here are some resources on the topic:
- My talk at SpeedGeeks LA (October 26, 2009) – Slides | Video. SpeedGeeks LA was an event hosted by Shopzilla and co-hosted by Google’s Steve Souders. Along with 7 other speakers all passionate about performance, I reprised our Velocity 2009 talk with updated stats and a little bit of the “ugly” that happened when we momentarily took our eye off the performance “ball”.
- My talk at Velocity 2009 (June 24, 2009): “You Get What You Measure” – Slides | Video. I introduced Shopzilla’s site redesign initiative and published our initial results. I’m proud that our company was among the first to talk about the real and quantified business value of speed.
- Steve Souders’ site. Steve is the creator of YSlow, the author of the Amazon best-selling High Performance Web Sites and Even Faster Web Sites and co-chair of the Velocity conference. His evangelism is a big part of the industry momentum on the topic of performance.
- This excellent post by Alistair Croll: Proof that speeding up websites improves online business. In addition to discussing performance results from Shopzilla, Google and Bing, Alistair takes a deep look at the impact on smaller businesses as well. As it turns out, the results are just as compelling.