The Facebook engineering blog often presents interesting findings about the nuts and bolts of Facebook and the technical side of running that enormous service. The latest post is about Facebook’s experimentation on how site speed affects the behavior of its users, called “Every Millisecond Counts”.
One thing that struck us as extremely interesting was the following findings about site speed:
What happens to user behavior when we tweak the site to be slower in various degrees for them? It turns out that over a large gradient of site slowdowns, users in general spend around the same amount of time on Facebook, as measured by session time (user activity up until a certain period of idleness). Logically, page views suffer as a result. If pages take longer to load but people still spend the same amount of time on Facebook, then the number of page views is inversely proportional to the page loading time.
The key thing here is that users spent the same amount of time on the site regardless of how fast or slow it was. A user would view more pages the faster the site was.
Now, not all sites are created equal, but we have heard of similar behavior on other types of sites as well. In fact, in our interview with Steve Souders (web optimization guru at Google) he told us, “Statistics from Amazon, Google, Jupiter Research and others show that a faster web site increases traffic, repeat visits, clicks, and conversions.”
So, a fast site is A Good Thing in more ways than one.
Now on to how this realization can make you more money.
How this applies to ad revenue
If your site has users that behave similarly to Facebook’s findings, you have a variable that you can tweak to increase your ad income (provided you serve ads on your site, of course); the speed of your site.
A speedier site should give you more pageviews. More page views means more ads served, which should translate to more money from those ads. All because you made your site load faster.
In short, if you live off ads displayed on your website, you may want to do your best to speed that site up. A speedy website is good for lots of other reasons as well, but the realization that even small speedups can help your bottom line sure can’t hurt as motivation, can it? 😉
Good places to start
There are lots of articles and helpful lists out there that can help you make your website faster. Needless to say we can’t list them all, so here are a few good places to start:
- Yahoo’s best practices for speeding up websites offers a solid set of good advice.
- Google’s “Speed” page has plenty of articles and resources on how to make websites load faster.
- A tool we recommend for profiling site performance is YSlow, a Firefox add-on to Firebug. Google has released a similar tool called Page Speed. Both tools will look at your site and try to give you advice on how you can make it faster.
- You may also find our web-based load time test helpful.
- Website speed test from Pingdom.
If anyone has any numbers to share on how you’ve been able to change your number of page views by making the site faster, we’d love to see them.