When can the “extremely slow site” penalty be expected to be lifted?

Thanks again for an excellent service!

I have spent tones of hours making the site as fast as possible. I can see from Webpagetest, Google Analytics Site Speed and Pingdom that everything should be fairly OK by now.

According to Webpagetest the pages are loading in 1.7-2.3 depending on type. When I compare to other sites, that looks fairly good.

According to GA the average loading time is around 4.5, sometimes lower, sometimes higher. That is at least better than Google Analytics own blog that has an average of 7 seconds: http://analytics.blogspot.com/2011/09/site-speed-gets-upgrade-hello.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+blogspot%2FtRaA+(Google+Analytics+Blog)

According to Pingdom the average response time (globally) is below 450ms.

But, the stats in Webmastertool are still horrendous…!

The background is this: In February the traffic suddenly dropped from Google. I started to pay attention to performance in July since I suspected that it had to be the prime reason for the drop. I don’t know the load times around February but I guess it was really bad (I didn’t even have Gzip and the server was basically down 2 hours per day due to a faulty cron etc etc. It was a mess!).

Webmastertools still have the following stats:

Time to get a page

  • High: 3 000ms Average: 892 Low: 448

Website Performance

  • 5.0sec in average loading time = slower than 75% (high reliability with more than 1000 data points).

Example pages
/dream_dictionary 7,2 sec
/ 10,7 sec

The two example pages has been tested thoroughly with Webpagetest and are monitored by Pingdom.
The top-page loads in around 1.8-1.9 sec, see: http://www.webpagetest.org/result/110922_0X_1P9AP/
/dream_dictionary has about the same, see http://www.webpagetest.org/result/110922_JY_1P9AW/

According to GA for the last month:
/dream_dictionary 7,2 sec
/ 3.59 sec

According to GA last day:
/dream_dictionary 1.3 sec
/ 2.19 sec

Is it reasonable to say that the site now is fast enough?

I understand the stats in Webmastertools are based on a rolling average, it’s not enough to be good a few days after being slow for months so to say. But when can I expect to see the stats in Webmastertools to be closer to what I can see from other tools? And when can the “extremely slow site” penalty be expected to be lifted? There has been a growth in traffic but I have not seen any big jump upwards, which I hope to see since the site have started to load faster.

All ideas, suggestions and tips would be appreciated!


Some parts of the site are loading fast from USA (Dulles) but really bad from Australia (Sidney).
Dulles 2 sec: http://www.webpagetest.org/result/110922_H6_1P9PP/
Sidney 12 sec: http://www.webpagetest.org/result/110922_EM_1P9PQ/
I have tested Amazon Cloudfront but it rather increased the load time than reduced it… Sidney got approx 2 seconds better, but a substantial delay for “fast countries” happened very frequently.
I will try to decrease the number of files, I believe that would make the difference.

I can’t really speak to the lag time for changes to reflect in webmaster tools - maybe the webmaster forums for Google could help with that: http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Webmasters/label?lid=41234c84d9491af8&hl=en

Some things to look out for:

  • Make sure you do your testing where your users are coming from
  • When did things improve? Does the webmaster tools dashboard look like it includes days after you fixed things? (it usually lags up to a week for me)
  • GA performance includes IE9 and Chrome (and maybe users with the Google toolbar) while webmaster tools only includes data from users with the toolbar so it could be older browsers skewing the results

Hi Joppe,

In February, many webmasters reported substantial drop in traffic from Google search results. This was due to the so called “Panda” update ( http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4348254.htm ). It is quite possible your traffic drop may not be so much related to your site speed.

In my experience, this feedback is rather fast. For example, if I make a substantial change today, September 24, I can expect to see the change reflected in the graph as soon as the graph data is updated for Sep 25, 26, or 27. But as Pat said, sometimes it may take a while for the Graph to be updated.

Your site feels fast in my area.