Infographic: The Google Page Rank Race – What’s Slowing Down Your Site?

In 2011 the need for speed is evident in every area of life, especially for our web browsing experience. Google recognizes the faster pace we all crave and has modified its Page Rank criteria to reflect this, while also providing a detailed tool, Page Speed, to help us decipher the extra baggage (aka JavaScript) slowing us down. This study examines 3 popular site elements, Toolbars, In-Text ads and Social Buttons and how they are affecting your speedy ways. Read on for some practical tips to keep your site in the fast lane.

Google’s Need for Speed

In April 2010, Google finally made official what many suspected for some time, website load time has a direct impact on Google Rank. In other words, the longer it takes your page to load, the lower rank you will receive from Google – the Mecca of online search.

The reality is, the slower your internet moves, the less time you will spend surfing. Its common sense and also proven from Google’s own research. These “surf laws” dictate that quickly returned results and speedy browsers equal a heightened user experience and therefore a higher Page Rank from Google.

On March 31st of this year, Google not only made the importance of load speed clear, they also went a step further to help site owners decipher the factors impacting the speed of their websites. Google Lab’s new web performance tool Page Speed breaks it down by category and exposes each element on the site that is having an impact on the load speed.

JavaScript Puts on the Brakes

Among these categories, JavaScript empowered elements can potentially have a very negative impact on the speed of a site and bottleneck the loading. Many websites implement third party empowered JavaScript external code for services such as: advertising, dynamic graphics, widgets, etc. There is an art to JavaScript writing and unless the code is short and masterfully written, it will make your browsing experience lethargic and less pleasant.

In this study we will investigate one of the main variables related to JavaScript that if not implemented correctly, is one of the culprits in delayed surfing: Defer parsing of JavaScript The browser must parse the contents of all <script> tags, which adds additional time to the page load. So the less there is to “parse” in the JavaScript, the faster the site will load.

In order to better illustrate impact on load speed we will investigate three common JavaScript plugins: In-Text Advertising, Toolbars and Social Sharing Buttons. Because the JavaScript for each element is identical amongst the sites in which they are hosted, a random site was chosen to test each – which means that the results would be the same regardless of test site.

Choose the Fastest In-Text Network

In-Text Ad Networks correlate specific keywords (often double underlined) within the content of a web-page to relevant advertising which appears in a bubble. Infolinks and Kontera are two of the most popular In-Text ads networks in the industry. Let’s see how each performed at Defer Parsing.

*notes: JohnChow.com was used for Infolinks.com and gayot.com for Kontera/

We see a vast contrast in performance between these two networks. Infolinks only affected the defer parsing of the JavaScript with the low-weight and very fast score of 346B, as opposed to Kontera’s much heavier load of 17.9KiB.

This discrepancy in speed between these two seemingly identical ad networks can be attributed to the timing of the upload of each algorithm. Infolinks’ new technology and algorithm uploads the ads once the page is fully loaded, unlike the older JavaScript empowered Kontera, which uploads all of the information whilst the page is loading, which in turn slows down the speed of the site load.

This answers what feels like a never-ending debate amongst publishers as to whether In-Text Ads slow down websites. Technology analysis with Google’s own tools reveals that Kontera slows down page load time which lowers Google rank, while Infolinks is 50 times faster and so a much better choice for website publishers who seek Google traffic.

Winning the Toolbar Race

Toolbars are a great instrument for publishers to centrally locate relevant widgets and applications for their visitors. Wibya and Meebo are two of the hottest toolbars available, but do they cause your website to creep? Let’s see what Google Says:

*notes: Walyou.com was used to test Wibya and CafeMom.com to test Meebo.

We can see that Wibya impacted the test site by 21B of inline JavaScript while Meebo a whopping 6.2KiB of inline JavaScript. That is a pretty big variance in speed. As far as Google’s Lab is concerned Wibya is definitely the safest choice when it comes to your site’s Page Rank.

Social Buttons and Speed

Social Sharing Buttons are a great tool for publishers to help make their content more viral via shortcut buttons configured to the user’s social media account. One press of a button and voila -more exposure for your content! AddThis and ShareThis lead the social button industry, but do they prolong browsing time for your visitors? Let’s look.

* http://www.cosmopolitan.com/ was tested for Sharethis and PerezHilton.com for AddThis.

Defer Parsing was impacted the most by Social Sharing buttons. AddThis showed 53KiB of parsing and ShareThis 31.3KiB. AddThis is obviously almost twice as fast as ShareThis, but both scored substantially lower than the other plugins in this study.

Publishers should keep in mind that although Social Sharing Buttons are extremely valuable in the social/viral sense, you will have to make a sacrifice of page load speed when adding their JavaScript to your site. This my friends is what we call a “catch 22,” leave them off and make it harder for your readers to share your content, or add them and slow down your site and lower your page rank. What to do? What to do?

Keep Your Site Fast and Page Rank High

Faster is better, that’s the bottom line according to browse speed. It’s important for website owners to investigate what add-ons are slowing things down. But you can rest assured when adding these Google Race Winners: Wibya, the best toolbar for speed, Infolinks, the fastest In-Text ad network and ShareThis, the lesser of two “speed evils” for Social Buttons.

Investigate these results yourself by simply entering a URL into the search bar here: http://pagespeed.googlelabs.com. The “speed sinners” may surprise you!


28 thoughts on “Infographic: The Google Page Rank Race – What’s Slowing Down Your Site?”

  1. DogTreat Guy says:

    Its hard to disagree if Google says its so .. but I wonder about several things. My site is on a joomla platform. I wonder how that ranks for speed? Also as many developed countries are going to optic fibre, load speed will mostly become irrelvant for browser people, the bottleneck may end up being the servers again.

    Lots of food for thought, I just hope my simple site, with low Kb graphics loads fast enough. Thanks for your regular insightful updates .. will keep reading!

    1. aheneghana says:

      @DogTreat Guy Use joomla as well. After the last Panda update the site dropped in ranking. Still need to find out what makes panda tick. low graph pics only one aspect, alt tags essential. http://africasiaeuro.com/wordpress

  2. PLRNetMarketing says:

    I like gtmetrix for checking site speed and tracking down bottlenecks. A ton of great info on how your site is loading and how long each component is taking.

  3. Goth Blog says:

    Interesting. Especially since just today I’d been dealing with trying to do a blog post on my blog at http://emporiumgothica.blogpspot.com about some of the YouTube videos that had been posted in the past (the “blast from the past” trick you’d mentioned in your ebook) and I kept having problems loading the page where all the posts tagged ‘videos’ were to be found.

  4. Kent Chow says:

    Very nice and helpful Infographic. I use a cache WP plugin to speed up my sites. The google pagespeed comes in very handy. Thanks!

  5. aheneghana says:

    Great info. On my self hosted wp noted sizable loss of traffic recently, removed lots extra pounds, widgets and alike. Basically saw our ranking drop dramatically in last few weeks, possibly also due to new rules in Panda algorithm. Some widgets moved, graphic links, ads. Cache plugins help to speed up loading, just as @Kent Chow mentioned. Activated that as well. Hopefully I’ll get some lost ranking back soon. Thanks once again johnchow <a href=”http://africasiaeuro.com/wordpress”> from Taipei</a>

  6. Thanks for sharing, I would have never guessed website load effected page rank. I typed in my website to see where I was at and I’m at 80/100. I liked that it offered options and suggestions on how to speed things up.

  7. post free ads says:

    nice information i think very useful for growing our blog

  8. I’ve heard that speed takes down the rankings and I always work with it. pagespeed.googlelabs com gave me a couple of good ideas where I can find more speed, thanks for the link.

  9. zteulp says:

    John,

    Great article. I noticed the graphic showed Sharethis being almost twice as fast but in your article you state – “AddThis is obviously almost twice as fast as ShareThis, but both scored substantially lower than the other plugins in this study.” Just wanted to let you know.

  10. fas says:

    So true, lesser images also helps.

  11. I am stil strugling to understand what happend after panda. Panda was implemented in my country around 3/4 months ago, Initially all my blogs had much more visits but since 1 month ago the number of visites decreased. Maybe because of what you explain here.

    I always publish unique content. I will try to speed up my sites to see if I get better rankings.

    Does anybody know if the number of Adsense displayed can impact on rankings?

  12. LauLau81 says:

    This had been my problem, my site speed. I am lucky enough to visit your blog, now I have the idea and how can I resolve this. Thank you…

  13. Nice infographic, I’d be interested in seeing more comparisons between different elements like bars, social buttons, ad networks, maybe a top 10.

    It would be good also to install the elements on the same site to compare.

  14. Had no idea that website load time has an effect on google page rankings. This is very useful knowledge, especially for those looking to expand their sites by adding more interactive features to the design.

    http://www.missmillmag.com

  15. besz says:

    John, a question: do you think the infographic would be more accurate if it compared the different add-ons on the same site?

    For example: testing ShareThis and AddThis on PerezHilton would be a more accurate test, as then the possibility of different sites having different settings and modules would be reduced greatly.

    1. John Chow says:

      @besz I’m sure it will provide a more accurate comparison but trying to getting Perez to switch a share button! 😛

    2. InfolinksInc says:

      @besz Hey, this is Tammy from Infolinks 🙂 Actually regardless of which site you examine through Google’s page speed tool – you will see the same add-ons produce the same results because it’s based on Defer Parsing of the JavaScript.

  16. Fay McLean says:

    There are so many things that do affect a sites ranking and unfortunately most people are completely unaware of what they are. Thanks for highlighting this one for everyone John and I’ll be sure to remind my peeps too!

  17. aheneghana says:

    Latest Panda update dropped ranking significantly. Page took forever to load. Google has some good recommendations how to speed up you site load. http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Webmasters/thread?tid=670cec0b7554ec7b&hl=en

  18. LindaSherman says:

    NIce post John. It’s interesting to me that you chose Livefyre for commenting. I’m about to convert one of my blogs over to give it a try, and one of the appealing points to me was the “latest conversation” feature for livefyre blog owners when they comment elsewhere. Aside from attentive customer service, have you found any other reasons to prefer livefyre over Disqus and commentluv?

  19. Vance Sova says:

    Hey John,

    Pretty helpful info in the post. Speed at which a site loads is one of the many factors that affect rank. But there are many more factors some of which may never be completely revealed. There will, however, always be rumours of them. I think that really slow sites are affected more. A lightening speed may be rewarded but perhaps it’s not as dramatic when compared with reasonably fast sites.

  20. Techstic says:

    The above tools comparison definitely help people to optimize their blogs for google search.

  21. ValeriyaMedyanaya says:

    Very interesting post, John! Thanks for info.

  22. IamNTB says:

    John, Some of the things that google says to implement might be complicated for the newbie blogger. Any chances of an article in the future on how and what you are doing to increase your score?

  23. Can you elaborate on something which is potentially even more important – WordPress plugins and how they effect your site load speeds. When one adds a plugin to WordPress they are usually “free” and only tested by the community. There are several popular plugins that everyone seems to use like All in One SEO or Google Analytics. Is there any research done to show how these might effect load speeds so adversely that they incur a penalty within Google Organic Search?

  24. great info, but for now infolinks is not my choice…. sad to said that

  25. Scholar Mel says:

    I tested my site at Google and scored 89 out of 100. Better than I thought 🙂

Comments are closed.