How Google Does It – With Speed

November 17, 2006


One of my favourite takeaways from the Web 2.0 Summit was Marissa’s presentation about something she learned working at Google. She ran a survey and Google users told her they wanted 30 results in the Google search results page. She delivered thirty results in the results pages and then watched as users ran from Google faster than she could say, “What happened?”

At first she did not know why they left. In time she came to realize page load times – an extra half second to download the extra HTML required to display 30 results – was what drove people away. So, in a word, slowness drove them away. Looking at things from the other direction, the results indicated that speed keeps users coming back to Google.

To explain the significance of this, I created some graphics (which are NOT based on data):

How goolge does it

See the difference in approach? Yahoo! tries to get you to stay as long as they can get you to stay on Yahoo! properties. Google wants you to visit and leave their site as quickly as possible, the idea being that the positive experience you have with Google will keep you coming back more frequently (i.e. you do more searches). And guess what? Every time you return Google gets another chance to monetize you…and Google monetizes about 30% of the searches people make. Impressed? I was. Thanks for sharing Marissa.


about the author

Co-Founder & CEO, FreshBooks Mike is the co-founder and CEO of FreshBooks, the world’s #1 cloud accounting software for self-employed professionals. Built in 2003 after he accidentally saved over an invoice, Mike spent 3.5 years growing FreshBooks from his parents’ basement. Since then, over 10 million people have used FreshBooks to save time billing, and collect billions of dollars. A lover of the outdoors, Mike has been bitten so many times it’s rumoured he’s the first human to have developed immunity to mosquitoes.