How Big Business Cashes in on Website Performance

by | November 21, 2013

Our last post ranked some of the highest-traffic websites in the world by homepage loading speed. This time around, we’re going to show you how loading times actually affect revenue.

It comes as no surprise that mega-corporations, like Facebook, Google, and Amazon, are sensitive about their site loading times. When you have a userbase of several hundred million, every millisecond counts. To give you some idea about how many users frequent these top sites, take a gander at these numbers.

  • Google searches: 34,000/s
  • Yahoo searches: 3,200/s
  • Bing searches: 927/s
  • Facebook updates: 700/s
  • ¬†Tweets: 600/s
  • Amazon purchases: 306/s

This is pretty interesting, because Google, which ranked number 9 on our fastest homepage loading time list, hosts over 34,000 searches a second, while Amazon, ranked number 14, only has to deal with 306 purchases in the same time. So, why is Amazon so much slower?

Well, at some point in the early 2000s, Amazon decided that including product images on its homepage generated more revenue than the loading time decrease they could achieve with a more simplistic homepage. This was a pretty big gamble, but it paid off in spades for the online retail giant because we barely ever think about Amazon’s relatively slower loading time. We’ve grown used to it.

Is this a good model for all websites to follow? Absolutely not. Amazon’s business model requires pictures upfront, so they were willing to make the speed sacrifice. But, as you’re about to see, Amazon could be making even more money if they were somehow able to trim down their loading times even more.

Here’s how loading time affects revenue for some of the biggest sites in the world.

  • Amazon: +100ms = -1 % of sales
  • Facebook: +500ms = -3% site traffic
  • Google: +500ms = -25% searches
  • Yahoo: +400ms = -9% site traffic
  • Shopzilla: +5s = -25% pageviews
  • Firefox: +2.2s = -15.4% downloads
  • Bing: +1s = -2.8% revenue
  • Hotmail: +6s = -$6,000,000 revenue/yr


As you can see, minute, even microscopic differences in page loading times equate to huge profit losses for the big players (0.1s delay results in 1% revenue loss for Amazon), while slightly longer delays can be devastating for smaller sites like Bing (1.0s delay results in 2.8% revenue loss). If you’re a small to mid-size company, chances are your fortunes won’t be wrecked by small server-side hiccups, but it’s still something to think about.

If you want more general information about how page loading time affects revenue and how users expect webpages to function, take a look at this excellent infographic by strangeloopnetworks titled “Visualizing Web Performance.”

Apica Product Team