As you may have heard a while ago, Google decided to incorporate load time into where sites rank in terms of search results. The faster the load time, the more of a bonus they should get in SERPs. One of the things that slows down page loads more than anything are site advertisements. In this blog post we are going to look at what advertisements can do to load time, according to Google’s “Site Performance” chart in Webmaster tools.
For this analysis, we are going to look at FantasySP. FantasySP is a fantasy sports news aggregator that makes managing a fantasy team and tracking player’s much easier. I will show site performance when it had several ad networks compared to when it has just one ad network (Google Adsense).
Below you will see a chart of the performance of the site with about 3 to 4 different ad networks. The more ad networks should result in worse performance. The site load-time PRIOR to January of 2010 shows load-time with several ad networks. After January, just one ad network is used: Google Adsense.
Google says: On average, pages in your site take 3.9 seconds to load (updated on Jan 10, 2010). This is slower than 63% of sites. These estimates are of medium accuracy (between 100 and 1000 data points)
Quite a dramatic improvement isn’t it? The more ad networks, the worse your load time is, no surprise there. But let’s take this a step further. . .should we disable ads for Googlebot to artificially inflate load times in your favor? With no ads shown, FantasySP should load a lot faster. But we’ll get back to this in a bit.
Next up, I’ll show site performance for the mobile FantasySP website, which is geared towards super fast load times.
Google says: “On average, pages in your site take 0.4 seconds to load (updated on Dec 7, 2009). This is faster than 97% of sites. These estimates are of low accuracy (less than 100 data points).”
The moral of the story is obvious, watch what ad networks you use for your website because it is killing your site’s load time. Not only for Googlebot’s site performance numbers, but your actual real life visitors as well. Why not offer a membership option for users to browse your site advertisement free, which is what FantasySP does.
As of 1/19/2010 I realized that the Site performance numbers are based on Google toolbar users load times. This means that while removing banner ads and unnecessary code snippets for Googlebot may be good because it can crawl faster, it won’t benefit you in any way when it comes to Site Performance numbers. Total bummer.