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Big traffic loss after my page speed dropped

 10:00 am on Aug 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

I just thought I'd share my recent experience with you about page speed.

I've been doing quite well in the SERPS for ages now, but at the beginning of August i took a big hit and later discovered that my pages had slowed down. I seems that I was starting to hit the CPU usage limits on my shared server and my host throttled me back quite a bit. My page speed times doubled in WMT (up to 7 seconds). Straight away i took a big hit in traffic, which i suppose could partly be down to less repeat page views, but of course my bounce rate went up to.

the thing that surprised me was that i always thought page speed and bounce rate/page views were minor parts of the algo. i didnt think you could get clobbered on them alone, but it seems you can.

i've since moved to a dedicated server and my page speed is down to 2 secs, but i'm yet to recover after 3 weeks.



 3:56 pm on Aug 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'd be interested to know if anyone has had the opposite experience - i.e. a big increase in traffic after significant speed improvements.


 7:46 pm on Aug 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

My guess would be that bots got rejected along with customers. Slowing down a site isn't just slower delivery. Check the number of 500's in your stats (may be a different number but probably in the 5xx range).


 11:04 pm on Aug 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

I've been trying figure out why I lost 60% of my traffic back on July 12th, and I had basically the same thing that happened to Londrum - high traffic, great ranking and then the hosting company throttled my site without telling me.

I looked at my stats for 500's today and they are significant, about 12 to 15% of the pages served. Time to find a new host.


 11:51 pm on Sep 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

Google's "long click" is a major part of their algorithm. If folks click on your site and are satisfied (don't come back to the SERPs and click on other sites, and don't refine their search) then your page will rise from 10 to the top 3 very quickly. If you are in the top and Google sees user unhappiness, your page will drop like a rock for that query.

I don't believe that page speed itself is a major component of the Google algorithm, but the effect that it can have on the long click can be horrific.


 8:29 pm on Sep 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

maybe you are right. but ive now recovered totally -- a week and a half after moving to a dedicated server.

i made no changes to the site otherwise. all i did was improve my page speed by moving away from shared hosting.

if it wasn't page speed then it must be something to do with bounce rate. either way, i didn't realise that either of those things had such a dramatic impact on your rankings. my traffic was cut in half overnight.


 9:41 pm on Sep 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

improved my page speed by moving away from shared hosting.

This is a bit of a nit-pick, but I feel it should be clarified. You improved server speed and response times, but page speed is so much more than that. It involves a host of factors that have nothing to do with the server itself.


 10:20 pm on Sep 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

I recently upgraded my server to solve capacity problems that had slowed down my site. In the following week Google started referring 15% more traffic my way.

Google's ranking algorithms are currently very sensitive to site performance. I believe that it has to do with user satisfaction being weighted heavily in the algo, not because site performance has a strong weight in the algo.


 12:32 am on Sep 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

Well said, deadsea. And all the factors that can improve page speed can improve user satisfaction, so indirectly they can improve search traffic, too.


 5:19 am on Sep 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

In a days google's Panda is currently very sensitive about site performance. I am in the same point of view with deadsea. Thanks everybody for nice sharing.


 11:15 pm on Sep 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

We have seen a similar drop in traffic, since adding Facebook Like, Twitter and +1 buttons - which have significantly hurt our page load speeds. We are going to pull them off and see if the traffic comes back.



 3:02 am on Sep 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'd be interested to know if anyone has had the opposite experience - i.e. a big increase in traffic after significant speed improvements.

Not sure how much of a correlation there is, but here's what just happened to me today. This is on my pandalized site, which I'd managed to finally get back almost to the point of full recovery. Basically, it was hit in Panda 1.0 badly, with its main phrase going from #1 to #80ish (along with everything else dropping too, but for the sake of examples, we'll just talk about this one phrase). After much work, I'd gotten the phrase back to #6 or #7 and it's stayed there for many weeks. Two days ago, I started using <a distributed cloud-based caching service> on the site, to speed it up. Today, that phrase went to #3. Coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 3:34 am (utc) on Sep 26, 2011]
[edit reason] no specific companies, please [/edit]

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