Will I sell more by hosting my Australian Web Site in Australia?
Yes, simple and clear. This is particularly the case with users who access your site from a mobile device where bandwidth and the device’s CPU power are greatly reduced when compared with a traditional computer.
The basis of why this is the case is around the profound impact of a ‘fast’ website versus a ‘slow’ one. When we are talking ‘fast’ or ‘slow’, we are referring to the time it takes to load a web page.
We are all time constrained in our daily lives. We will often pay significant premiums for fast service (e.g. taxi vs. bus, valet parking vs. self-parking, express priority hotlines, etc.) and will often become frustrated and agitated if we are delayed. These same views apply in the on-line world, but technology has a few extra dimensions.
Firstly, we have learnt to become very good at scanning a web page to find the content we are looking for and simultaneously filtering out any ads that may be shown. In fact, I would suggest that most of us can scan an average webpage in less than 5 seconds at which point you either move on to another page or website, or even back to Google to try searching again. When you compare the 5 seconds that it takes to scan a page versus the time it takes to load a page (which can be anywhere up to and sometimes in excess of, 10 seconds), it becomes very obvious just how much web browsing time is taken up simply waiting for a page to load.
If you are running a site that relies on advertising revenue to pay the bills, then anything that slows down a user browsing through your site, will impact the number of pages downloaded and hence the number of ads that are presented.
Secondly, while no one completely understands the Google search ranking algorithms, most industry commentators and blogs raise the point that sites are penalised for slow load times. This makes sense as Google itself benefits from faster browsing which in turn allows for more ads to be presented.
So with clarity that load times are important, what can be done?
- Minimise the size and complexity of the page.
- Minimise how far the content needs to travel to reach the user. If you are selling to Australians, then hosting your servers in Australia will make a huge difference rather than doing it from the USA or Europe. Even Singapore can have high latency (often more than the USA) as the cable networks aren’t direct (e.g. via Japan or Perth) and are heavily congested.
- Review the Infrastructure design to minimise choke points during load – consider leveraging load balancers, multiple zones or simply additional virtual private servers (VPS). Cloud computing allows you to scale up and down the number of virtual servers (or instances) you have in line with demand in real time. This can best be done in the code, but alternatively, the load balancers can do a similar job.
- If you have the budget for it, a CDN (content distribution network) or a GSLB (global server load balancer) can greatly assist in improving latency and redundancy. If you don’t, you might want to consider leveraging Cloud Storage as it has the ability to speed up the displaying of web images especially where you have large volumes of images being constantly served. We at Ninefold would be happy to assist you in understanding how our Ninefold Cloud Storage service and multiple Australian-based Availability Zones could assist you.
As a further thought, the rollout of the NBN (National Broadband Network) will only amplify the issue of latency and site performance when comparing Australian-hosted sites to those hosted overseas. Local Australian sites will load even faster due to the significantly improved bandwidth and latency advantages we will all get from the NBN, while web sites located overseas will not see the same improvement as the NBN advantage is limited to web sites within Australia. International cable networks will not change because of the NBN nor will the distance or resulting round trip latency; just another reason to keep your virtual servers and cloud computing local.