Site Load Speed, Scripts, and Google Tag Manager

Your site’s load speed has always been important to SEO and sales. Nothing drives away a visitor more than long load times, especially when they’re trying to click through your pages and learn about what you do. The experience should be a positive one, and the moment it starts feeling tedious you’ve lost the chance for rapport.

When looking for ways to shave off precious seconds of load time, everyone looks to web host speed and large images/media first with good reason. But did you know that scripts may be tying up your site as well?

Excess CSS and javascript can really bog down hosts, which is why most caching plugins for platforms like WordPress offer options to condense them. However, some scripts deal with third party servers.

Google Analytics, Search Console, and things like those are examples of this type of script.

It’s not enough to simply “minify” the scripts with caching plugins, because the script’s commands involve connections elsewhere. If those connections lag, it can hang up loading the rest of the site.

Often browsers will wait on this step before rendering further.

This is where the tag manager comes in.

Google’s tag manager solves this problem in a few different ways. The first and simplest way is by combining all scripts into one place. You can place various javascript into tag manager, and rather than them loading separately from different places in the page’s code, they’ll all be run together.

But tag manager takes this a step further. When a browser reads the code in your site and comes upon tag manager, Google’s servers can prioritize the contained scripts by function, and also by how quickly each of them is loading.

This way, if something like Google fonts or Analytics is lagging the browser can continue rendering other parts of your site.

The scripts won’t have to be front-loaded.

Google Tag Manager for rankings

A recent personal example:

In a recent site project, a colleague and I were working to reduce long load times that’d negatively impacted the site’s search rankings. After running some speed tests we saw that one of the biggest hangups was javascript. The site was taking an unfortunate 8-11 seconds to fully load!

After setting up Google’s tag manager and running the report again, load time was down to a range of 2.08 to 2.9 seconds. That’s roughly 25% of what it had been. (Thanks to Thin Line Marketing for the assistance there!)

There were still things Pingdom’s speed test was calling out as concerns for that site as loading went, but we were shocked that the one step was such a leap forward.

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