Why it pays to optimize & make your site more responsive
Maybe the reason why you can’t even quite get into the top-five or number-one spot on Google search is because you’re not spending enough time or money getting the best Web host and Web server you can afford and then optimizing how you serve your Web pages, especially when your modern content management system is backed by a database.
I have a theory that both where you end up on search results as well as how much money you can make advertising AdWords ads via AdSense depends not merely on SEO or surfing the right trends or even finding the long tail sweet spot, but also on how quick, responsive, reliable, and durable the server that hosts your blog or site is. The faster the page loads, the better your site will rank on Google search, all other things being equal. Take it to the bank.
When my server was really under-powered and unoptimized, I was averaging $4/day, then after moving stuff around and optimized, it went up to a more reliable $11-25/day. Then, the site started getting more popular from better ranking and then the reliability decreased and the daily take returned to $4-6/day or so.
Now, with more physical RAM in the box and some cloud-based back-up to handle big popularity spikes, I am seeing quite a few $15-$25/day pay-outs.That’s only one person’s experience, but that’s all I got.
What I am going to tell you is not hard science. I might even be recognizing the wrong patterns. And, my sample size is one subject over a long period of time, my blog, Because the Medium is the Message, which is a very big, old, blog with 6,894 posts, 4,631 comments, 4,244 categories, and 14,092 tags — all back-ended by a MySQL database and fortified with WP Super Cache on a dedicated server.
My blog gets about 50,000 visits a month and once in a while I will get a spike to 20,000 visits in a day — for example, when I surfed the Royal Wedding coverage. I serve AdWord ads on the site and I have been noticing that all things being equal, whenever my system administrator adds RAM memory, is able to optimize the database, increase uptime, and add either bandwidth or resources to the box that in some way makes the site quicker to serve, especially when slashdotted or digg-dotted from popularity, then Google rewards me with more advertising revenue.
And this happens not only during the days when I am being crashed by being mentioned on Mashable or retweeted by Guy Kawasaki, adding hardware and software resources to my dedicated server that adds to the box’s durability, reliability, and especially quickness and responsiveness is what does it on a daily basis.
Why Google rewards responsiveness
And, I understand why Google does this. Isn’t this obvious? They are looking to provide their users with a positive experience. So, amazing user interface and quality of research and content cannot be enjoyed from a site that has repeatedly shown that it is habitually slow or unresponsive.
I honestly believe that the time a page loads is an important variable in the algorithm that Google deploys when it is indexing and ranking resource sites. You have your user interface and site architecture and content completely sorted out, you might have organic link-tos and a PR of 5 or above, but at the end of the say, Google won’t send its searchers to a site that won’t load fast.
Cheap, slow hosting is fine when you’re new, but when you get as big as the Chris Abraham blog, with almost seven-thousand active posts and an open-season on comments, you really need to make sure your hardware can match your traffic, your popularity, your spikes, and your database requirements — and exceed them — or Google might give you ranking demerits, and you might lose the trust and faith that Google had in you, resulting in their needing to either rank you down a few or off the front page so as to prevent a negative user experience.
Don’t forget that this is especially important for someone who is using Google on a smart phone. These folks are searching for timely information, especially when they’re on the road having a mobile Web experience. After suffering through EDGE or 3G bandwidth issues just to reach Google, getting a “database cannot connect” from your site or blog doesn’t make you look good nor does it make the search engine that referred you.