Website Optimization: The Why and How (Part I)

When I talk about web optimization I’m specifically talking about all the technical things that you can do to speed up the load time of your web pages.  Let’s be honest, there are A LOT of things that you can do to improve this as we will cover over this two part article.  The first article will focus on the “why” and the second will focus on the “how.”

I’m a big proponent of an optimized website for many reasons.  From a geeked out SEO perspective Google has recently told us that pages that load faster get indexed better.

The User Experience Optimized

When you think about this from your visitors’ standpoint it also makes sense.  If I’m visiting a page on the web and it takes a long time to load then that affects my user experience.  I might be more likely to bounce or leave a page sooner simply because it is taking a long time to load.  A high bounce rate is a negative signal on your web traffic and rankings because it shows that people don’t find your content overly valuable and may leave just as fast as they arrive.  Ultimately remarkable content can be worth the wait, but is your content that much more valuable than the next ranking website?  Are you willing to take that risk?

Many of you might remember the old days, all of five plus years ago, before we had cable modems and high speed internet connections.  When you are on a 56K dial up modem every KB matters!  Guess what, there are still a lot of people who use this means of surfing the internet.  In this age of impatience, a minor two second delay can result in an incredibly big difference in your visitor experience.  Take a look at the embedded slides here from Shopzilla’s “You Get What You Measure” presentation.

A +7%-12% conversion rate is REAL REVENUE that we are talking about here from an optimized website.  Speaking of real revenue, let’s talk about the financial impact of optimization.

The Financial Impact of Optimization

Over two years ago I wrote my first article arguing for optimization around web image.  I laid out four really compelling financial benefits in that article that I’m going to share again here.  Optimized web files provide all of the following benefits:

  1. Less storage space on the server
  2. Less bandwidth needed to process the file
  3. Less storage and bandwidth needs mean that hosting costs are decreased
  4. Faster file and page loads correlate to a positive visitor experience which can lead to more visits

These reasons also directly correlate to the following environmental benefits:

  1. By reducing the load you’re requiring of web servers, you could extend the life of the machines resulting in less computer waste.
  2. Using less storage space and bandwidth also results in a decrease in electricity consumption.

As the slides above show not only can optimization increase your conversion rate, but they reduce your hardware costs, and in the Shopzilla case they reduced the infrastructure costs by 50%.  If this case study isn’t convincing enough it was one of many optimization stories shared at Velocity.

Why Google Cares

So we have talked about why optimization is important for your website visitors and business reasons so let’s spend a little time also talking about why Google really cares about this.  Google is in the business of making money off the web and specifically advertising.  As we’ve reported before98% of Google’s revenue comes from advertising.   Crawling billions of pages around the web is expensive.  If you were Google wouldn’t you want to do this as cheaply and efficiently as possible?

Google is smart and for all the reasons that we previously listed they have to be cautious about how many resources they put into crawling the whole web.  A 2% increase in site speed optimization around the web could literally mean millions of dollars in their crawling of the web.  Google naturally has a vested interest in cutting costs, and because of their size it matters that much more.  Many of us are allowed so many GB of internet bandwidth for our website in a month and because it is so much more than we regularly use, we don’t think about it.  In the interest of ever higher stock prices and better returns every little bit helps.


At the end of the day these benefits all correlate to paint the following picture; Optimizing web graphics are good for web servers, good for internet bandwidth, good on our wallet, good for our visitors, good for our rankings and even good for the environment!

Hopefully you are now convinced of the value of optimizing your website!?  Tomorrow we will talk in more detail about what you can do to optimize your website.

Image: lego 8158-7 by Jinho.Jung

3 Responses to “Website Optimization: The Why and How (Part I)”

  1. Says:

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