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Googlebot boosts Apex performance

January 24, 2010

Every day it seems, Googlebot scans my site. You wouldn’t think that would affect the performance of the site, or if at all, would make it worse, right?

A few days ago I used Apex’s Page View Analysis, Weighted Page Performance (under Home > Administration > Monitor Activity) to see which pages I should focus on to improve performance. The top page was my home page, which was taking 0.9 seconds to load on average. There were other pages that were taking longer to load, but the home page was the most common entry point so it had a higher “weighting”.

So I loaded up the page while logged in as a developer and clicked the “Debug” button at the bottom of the page. It showed that all the regions on the page were rendering in about 0.01 seconds each (sometimes a bit more), except for one region – a region that pulled a small bit of XML from another website (“Verse of the Day” via BibleGateway.com) and displayed it – it was consistently taking 0.5 – 0.8 seconds to load.

The “Verse of the Day”, obviously, only changes once a day, but for some reason, in spite of the Cache settings on the region, it was still going back to the source every page view (side question: have you noticed that in Debug mode, it seems no regions are found in the cache? – perhaps this is by design?).

Oh well – I was thinking that I’d like to store the text that is being shown in that region anyway, so I created a simple table to store the text, then rewrote the PL/SQL to get the text from the table instead; and if not found, only then does it go to BibleGateway.com to get the VotD.

After the first pageview loads the verse into the cache, subsequent pageviews are taking less than 0.1 seconds total, so that’s solved – except for the very first visitor to the site of the day, who will have to wait a whole 0.9 seconds.

However, as I discovered this morning, looking at the logs, it appears Googlebot is the one who is suffering – sometime after midnight most nights it scans the site, seeds the cache for me, then everyone who visits that day gets the benefit of the cache :) :) :)

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