April 21, 2011, 9:37 AM

SmartFurniture.com reduces its load times by 200%

That helped the retailer’s organic search rankings rise.

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Nearly 90% of shoppers arrive at online-only retailer SmartFurniture.com via organic search.That means the retailer’s natural search rankings are crucial to its bottom line.

To garner a high ranking the retailer followed a number of what it considered to be search-engine optimization best practices, such as making sure that the site’s content featured popular search terms.

Despite those efforts, the e-retailer failed to break into the top five results for most of its most lucrative search terms. The retailer’s hypothesis? The site’s load times were too slow.

“We were doing everything right,” says T.J. Gentle, the retailer’s president and CEO. “But we learned that the quality of the user’s experience is a key factor in Google’s ranking algorithm. It was clear that we needed to increase site speed in order to significantly improve our search engine rankings.”

To fix the issue, the retailer turned to Akamai’s Dynamic Site Accelerator application. The application uses Akamai’s global content delivery network of 84,000 servers to cache web site content so that it can be more quickly delivered to consumers visiting SmartFurniture.com.

Since implementing the Akamai service last summer, the retailer’s load times for best-selling products are loading, on average, 200%. Faster performance translated into better organic search engine rankings—on seven of the top 10 keywords the e-retailer moved up an average of two positions.

Because such a high percentage of the retailer’s customers arrive at its site via organic search those increases can significantly impact sales, says Gentle. In the first month after implementing Akamai’s application the retailer’s revenue grew 12% year over year.

“Across the board we’ve seen increases in sales because of our improved rankings combined with 20% more organic traffic being driven to our site and 14% more page views,” he says. “That translates into a significant increase in our average daily revenue.”

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