Web Performance Basics for the Marketing Team

speedometerWhile it’s obvious that a slow website can be frustrating to your users, you may be surprised at just how big an impact site performance can have on your sales and lead conversions. In this post, we’re going to share research that provides quantifiable guidance on just how big an impact your site speed can have on your business, and give some tips on what you can do about it.

Mozilla’s Performance Win

In 2010, the Mozilla team made an interesting discovery. At the time, the Firefox download page was loading in 7 seconds. They knew this was slower then they’d like, but speeding it up had never been a priority. Finally, an effort was initiated to speed up the page, but they decided to measure the return on their investment of time. The results were astonishing: by reducing the average page load time by 2.2 seconds, they saw a 15.4% increase in downloads. For Mozilla, this improvement extrapolated out to 10.28 Million additional downloads per year. Clearly, this was a big win for the team. It’s a fascinating case study that you can read more about on their blog: Firefox & Page Load Speed – Part II.

Google Announces Slow Performance Hurts Search Ranking

Google is notoriously private about the details of how their search ranking algorithm works, but its well known that an effective link strategy and relevant site content is critical to your site’s search ranking position. In 2010, though, Google announced on their Webmaster Blog that poor website performance will also have a negative impact on search ranking. The ante was again raised in June 2103, when Matt Cutts, head of the Webspam team at Google, announced that poor performance of your mobile site will also soon have a negative impact on search ranking. While the details and extent of the impact are not yet known, the message is clear: a well-performing website is becoming increasingly relevant to the success of your Google search rank.

Microsoft and Bing Research Financial Impact

At the O’Reilly Velocity Conference in 2009, Google and the Microsoft Bing team conducted an interesting research study on the financial impact of slow performance. The results of this study were a watermark revelation on the financial impact of slowly performing sites. Among the results, they found a 4.3% revenue decrease for each 2-second delay in page load rendering time. This was one of the first studies to be released quantifying the financial impact of slow performance.

You can view the original slide deck here.

What Can You Do?

In July of 2012 Aberdeen Group released a survey showing that only 23% of businesses could identify the source of their slow website performance. Clearly, the first step to solving a problem is knowing it exists.�Fortunately, there are many great free tools out there to help. Among these, we recommend the following:

  • Google Analytics – If you’re not already using Google Analytics, you should. Among countless other benefits, you can use Google Analytics to track average page load time in the eyes of Google.
  • WebPageTest – A fantastic open source tool that allows you to measure and diagnose the speed of your website from virtually anywhere in the world. It also has a great video capture tool to see how your website loads in the eyes of your users. You can read more about this feature over on the Zoompf blog.
  • Google PageSpeed – Another great free tool. Google Pagespeed can scan a single page of your website and provide high-level guidance on how to improve performance.

How Fast Should You Be?

In 2009, Forrester Research and Akamai conducted a study reporting that 47% of internet users expected pages to load in 2 seconds or less. Four years later, you can assume that expectation has only gotten faster.

What we recommend is a more business-focused approach: using the tools above, don’t just look at the performance of your site, but also check out your competition. How do you rank? If you’re a lot slower, you may be losing business to the competition. If you’re faster, how can you grow the gap?

In future posts we will provide more suggestions on how you can take a targeted, balanced approach to improving your lead conversions and online sales effectiveness through improved website performance.


Zoompf helps Enterprise web teams keep their websites fast using a powerful cloud-based web performance analysis platform. To see how you can speed up your site, try our free scan at http://zoompf.com/free. To learn more about how slow performance can impact your business, check out our collection of independent industry research.

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