I Introduce To You A New Type Of Snakeoil Salesman

I Introduce To You A New Type Of Snakeoil Salesman

By | April 17, 2010 at 10:00 am | 6 comments | Online Marketing | Tags: , , , ,

On the 9th April 2010, Google confirmed what everyone had been talking about for months prior – site speed is a factor in search engine rankings.  Matt Cutts commented on this news by, quite rightly, asking people to not panic as this was a minor signal and not to go overboard with it.  He even went so far as to say:

In fact, if you read the official blog post, you’ll notice that the current implementation mentions that fewer than 1% of search queries will change as a result of incorporating site speed into our ranking.

So it is with great annoyance that a UK Fast, a UK based hosting company has come out with a brand spanking new suit, a box of snakeoil and a shit-eating grin and jumped on the back of this news.  Several of my clients received this email from them:

This weekend Google announced that website speed has been added to their natural Pagerank algorithm. Coupled with the well established impact that page load speed has on Google Quality Score, web speed has suddenly shot to the top of every web owners agenda.
Building Online Britain
UKFast has responded by launching Building Online Britain, a campaign supported by a significant financial fund that aims to assist British business owners to achieve success online through the application of innovative, super-fast hosting services.
Your £1,000 website acceleration fund
The UKFast GTI scheme (Growth Through Innovation), is available to all online business owners to help fund the cost of upgrading to a high performance solution.

  • Claim £1,000 towards any UKFast dedicated hosting solution
  • Open to the first 1,000 new customers who register
  • Guaranteed satisfaction, or an additional £1,000 towards your solution after 6 months

 It has never been more important for online businesses to accelerate their website. Act now, call one of our helpful, friendly hosting experts today for further advice.

You can’t blame them for jumping on the back of traffic that has been generated by the site speed news (which even got major coverage on BBC News for some reason) and whilst their intentions might be honourable, you have to love the misinformation in the opening paragraph.

Saying that, what has really pissed me off is that when I ran several speed tests against their own website, my clients’ websites actually performed better!  Yes, BETTER!

Site Speed:  UKFast is slower than my clients

Site Speed: UKFast is slower than my clients

So please, let it be known that you will receive hosting companies willing to exploit this news to make a quick buck and if you care for your clients, you will have already suggested site speed increases from a usability point-of-view and not a search rankings point-of-view.

About the Author

Kev Strong

Kev Strong is an online marketing consultant at Newcastle Upon Tyne based digital marketing agency, Mediaworks. A lover of all things search and an ex-web developer, Kev Strong (a.k.a Goosh) is a specialist in advanced search engine optimisation.


  1. Rhys (12 years ago)

    There was a bit of a long debate about this on #mancseo, and their website is putting forward fairly unsubstantiated speed claims. It’s certainly not as big as hosting companies make out!

    Shame as I quite liked UKFast 🙁

  2. Andy (12 years ago)

    Funny how they don’t mention that “LESS THAN 1% OF SEARCHES” in their sales copy…

  3. Chris (12 years ago)

    As you rightly said Google have been discussing the importance of speed for some time now and in their blog from June of last year they were discussing how much Speed Matters. They observed that a half a second delay in page load speed could reduce traffic by up to 20% and from then they have spoken openly about wanting to speed up the internet for their users. And it’s not just Google either because Amazon.com has been singing from the same hymn sheet! Their recent research showed that for every 100ms slower the website loaded sales decreased by 1% (so a three second delay for example would result in a 30% decrease in sales).

    I’m confused as to where you feel that the company who sent you this email has misinformed clients in their opening statement. Personally I don’t agree. Page loading speed has been a ranking factor for Google Page Search for some time and going by the amount of news stories and tweets about the latest speed announcement I would have said it was at the top of everyone’s agenda!!

    If the world’s internet giant’s are focussing so heavily on speed research then from a business perspective web owners should be encouraged to start looking at the speed of their website as the latest Google blog suggests. The blog says that currently only 1% of websites will be affected, but when Google’s goal is to “to let people leave our homepage as quickly as possible” surely this will be the tip of the iceberg for the future of speed on the internet? It is not a great leap of logic to assume that Google would not want to turn the internet on its head by penalising all websites that did not meet its exacting standards when it comes to speed in this first instance. They will definitely not want to place speed any higher than relevance in the ranking factors, but Google are a business as well – they need to ensure that satisfied customers continually return to search with them and not with another search engine. In my opinion we should treat this as a warning shot across the bow from Google. I’d put money on the fact that
    they are going to start turning up the heat on speed.

    • Goosh (12 years ago)

      Thanks for stopping by Chris.

      My grievance with the tactic was more the “blanket” mailing that a few of my clients received (I only deal with around 70) so, to me, that’s a large potential of website owners who were contacted with the news that this was a ranking factor that would make or break a website – bearing in mind some of my clients that received these were brochure sites with no e-commerce functionality and have very, very minimal load speeds (XHTML, CSS & compress images (max 2)) – that is what I think is misinformation. It wont break your website, nor will it impact your rankings beyond any noticable level that it is at the moment.

      I suppose I am just against scaremongering, which is ultimately what this is. Anyone worth their salt has already been optimising websites from a page load speed anyway, like you say, for conversion reasons above all else. It’s one of the first things I recommend to any potential client because if someone finds the site through great organic listings but experiences bad load times then they are a customer lost forever. To target people who have above average load speeds smacks at a lack of targetted marketing and more blanket sell – and like I say – I just don’t like that.

  4. Goosh (12 years ago)

    Nice to see that I wasn’t the only one to spot this. Kay Dinsdale has dug a little deeper and comes out with some nice facts about how UK Fast have been “massaging” this news for their benefit: http://www.kaydinsdale.co.uk/get-rich-quick-ukfast-hosting/

  5. Kay (12 years ago)

    I didn’t have to dig really, the only reason I knew about the UKFast claims on ranking and hosting speed was because they started a discussion themselves over at the Linked in Manchester SEO group. It sparked quite a bit of a backlash from the SEO community as Ryhs mentioned above.

    Aside from my annoyance at the wild claims they are making, from a business angle I think their use of materials to market their message has been done well. Their message will get across to a much wider audience than our disputes on the matter and I expect they will do well by it.

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