Slow Site? Optimize—Or Forfeit Search Traffic

Have your repeated requests to speed up your Web site been falling on deaf ears? There’s a change in the works that might give you the argument you need for IT to move site optimization up to the top of the priority list.

Watch this video from Google on the global benefits of a faster Web and then let’s consider how their advocacy on this could affect the success of your firm’s digital marketing strategy.

You’ve figured it out already, right? Of course, if Google wants the Web to be faster, the search engine is going to reward fast sites and slow sites can expect to sink in search engine rankings.

This isn't an arbitrary position on Google's part. Faster sites drive visitor satisfaction and conversions—they’re a win-win for site provider and user.

To get a rough idea of how your site will fare as search engine attention is directed to site speed, go to and run a test.

Below is a video of the test we ran. But first here’s some background. In a blog post a little more than a year ago, we used Google Trends to note slowly building interest in the search term "IRAs" toward the end of each year. But search interest was off toward the end of 2008, prompting us to suggest a compressed opportunity in the first four months of 2009 leading up to April 15.

That turned out to be true, as you can see in the graph below.

It’s essential to be discoverable by searchers when they’re looking, especially when the search term is important to your business. To illustrate the importance of winning speed races on key search terms, we're using an updated search term ("rollover IRA") and comparing the site speed results of three pages that currently rank on Page 1 of Google’s results.

They are pages on rollover IRAs from, and To round out the quartet, we added a landing page from T. Rowe, a pay-per-click advertiser on the term.

We'll tell you what you're about to see and then watch for it in the video.

The results:

  1. Wells Fargo (bottom right quadrant in the video) was on top of our Search results and fastest to load at 4.5 seconds.
  2. T. Rowe Price (upper left), the pay-per-click advertiser, comes in second. Page speed is already a factor in Google AdWords quality score. We expected T. Rowe to do well and, in fact, it loads in 6.5 seconds.
  3. Loading at a slow 9.5 seconds is Schwab (bottom left).
  4. SmartMoney, which we included because publishers’ content-rich sites are among your toughest search competition, takes 14.5 seconds to fully load.

Is your site as fast as it needs to be to win rankings on Google? Our recommendation: Get with your IT partners and make sure they're aware of what's happening. (Maybe do a few competitor comparisons of your own.) To quickly bring them up to speed, refer them to Also, Google maintains an excellent site on Web performance resources. Oh and better hurry!