More Speed, More Money

by Jim September 25, 2018

As I’ve just spent the past week evaluating entries for the Australian Search Awards, I thought it timely to highlight how many entries I saw still using misguided efforts in an attempt to improve client results. An overlooked, and simple to implement, tool for boosting a client’s bottom line is speed tweaks.

What I learned

  • Focus on the right things for business improvement
  • Minor speed tweaks can yield big returns
  • Deliver faster content with Cloudflare
  • Consider moving your DNS to Cloudflare or Amazon
  • Consider the user, not Google


Hey, welcome back, Rankers. Still bloody cold even though it’s spring. Big week of football, AFL football, here this week. Few big surprises, sorry to those who were disappointed this weekend. Some big shock losses.

Focus Your Efforts
I want to talk to you today a little bit about speed and how these little tweaks can make a big difference to your bottom line. We’ve just finished doing all the judging for the Australian Search Awards, the big ceremony’s going to be held in October at the Sydney Opera House, and congratulations to all those people that have made the shortlist. Some fantastic entries, but I saw a lot of entries that, for my part, were really focusing on the wrong things when it comes to a business, or … I mean, don’t get me wrong, most of the entries were awesome but there were a couple where you just go, “Oh, you know what? If you had have put that effort into maybe looking at some other stuff on the site, you may have got a better result for your client.” This goes if you’re an internal SEO as well, or just a conversion rate, or you have some responsibility for growing revenue in your organisation. Go and have a look at this stuff. It makes a difference.

So what we’re looking at here is the weekend just gone versus the weekend before. The reason I’m doing that is because we put one change in. Now, that’s not a big sample size, right, three days compared to another three days? But this is a retailer whose average basket size is around $1,200, so you’re talking a significant purchase for most people. They’re in the fashion and jewellery type space. You can see there, okay, for four sales, all right, we didn’t have any last weekend and this weekend we got four sales. So what did we do that was different? I’ll show you in a second.

Here’s another for you. This one, we’ve got a slightly longer timeframe. We put this, the same change that we did to the one that you just saw. This was done on the 13th of September. What’s today, the 24th? So we’re comparing similar timeframes, so an exact match from the week before, covering the same days of the week, basically. It’s important to iron out or to remove any spikes that a weekend might give you, or midweek or whatever, so you’re actually comparing the same days of the week. What we can see here is that our entire goal completions are up 45% and mobile specifically is up 31%.

Speed Wins
Now, the changes that happened to these two sites were both speed changes, all right, and these are fairly simple changes to do for most sites. These ones are mainly to do with Cloudflare. You can see here, this is where we switched on Cloudflare. Now, for those of you who don’t know what Cloudflare is, it does a few things. The main thing people use it for is a content distribution network, and basically what that means is that it takes your website, puts it into its data center, and then when people request your website, it sends them a version from a data center that’s closest to them in the world, so that they end up getting that content a lot quicker.

Now, these are just ping times here that we’re looking at, meaning that Cloudflare’s just … sorry, this is Pingdom … Pingdom is just hitting our site with a couple of bytes of data and seeing how quickly our sites respond. So that’s what that is and it does it from all over the world. What we can see here is that once we switch Cloudflare on, those big spikes and delays were wiped from this graph because it’s now getting pinged locally, closer to where Pingdom is doing it, because it’s now on Cloudflare.

So Cloudflare does two things. It does what we call the content distribution network … well, two main things. It does more than that … and the other thing that it does, that most Australian businesses should probably take advantage of, is the DNS. That is that they run that for you. Most Australian hosting companies that we look at, and most Australian registrars that we look at who might be doing DNS are doing it very slowly compared to, say, a Cloudflare. So the delay that it takes for most Australian sites, the ones that we’ve seen anyway, is anywhere between two to three hundred milliseconds to get that DNS done. So if you put it on Cloudflare, you’ll find it reduces it down to two to three milliseconds. Same is true, say, with Amazon Web Services. They provide the DNS service as well, a lot, lot faster than most of the Australian registrars who are doing the DNS.

So there’s just a couple of simple changes that you can do, and there’s a further change that we can do on that with Cloudflare as well, where we can get an extra benefit and extra speed as well. We’re doing this for the user, though. We’re not doing it for Google. The Google ping times of the site won’t, well, not usually change. You don’t usually see them change with this because Google’s coming into the site from a different angle. This is purely to get more sales. This is purely to speed up the site so users don’t have to stand around or sit around waiting for your page to load. They can just get in, transact, buy stuff, get out. And just by shaving off essentially 500 milliseconds on the ping times, has resulted in the growth in sales and those transactions for those clients.

So just think of it. Google told us years ago that a half-a-second delay decreases conversions by 20%. So this is half a second we’ve taken off and, well, we’ve seen conversions go up by more than 20% in both … well, in one of those cases, anyway. So hopefully that’s helpful, and we will see you all next week. Hopefully see some of you at the Search Awards, and I’ve got to go and work on my Pubcon presentation, so I hope to see a few of you there in a couple of weeks.

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