How Google, Facebook, Ads & Other 3rd Party Resources Affect Your Site Speed (& What To Do About It)
By Terry Kyle
Chief Dog Lover/Co-Founder WPX.net (With Georgi Petrov, CEO)
Arguably The World’s Fastest WP Host
So you have moved your beloved websites over from a horrible dinosaur hosting company to WPX and you expected hypersonic speeds but the folks at Pingdom Tools and GTMetrix ain’t so impressed (yet) and your score might look like this:
and that lousy loading time makes you feel like this:
or even this:
BUT, Let's Stop For A Second & Do A Little Detective Work Here!
This is a VERY COMMON misunderstanding of how modern websites work so let’s get to the bottom of this mystery, shall we?
A modern website has a LOT going on, and not just from your own text, images, popups, plugins and possibly even additional customizations.
And mostly those are all fine.
BUT then you have ‘External Resources’, also known as ‘3rd Party Resources’ (cue sinister background music).
And what on earth are these?
These are elements and functions that you – yes, YOU – have added to your website that MASSIVELY slow down the REPORTED loading speed of your website’s pages on tools like Pingdom and GTMetrix.
These are functions that require interaction with SERVERS OWNED BY OTHER COMPANIES, not WPX e.g.
- Google Analytics
- Google Fonts
- Google Tag Manager
- Facebook tracking pixels
- Retargeting (via Google, Facebook, Perfect Audience, Twitter etc)
- Live Chat
- Ad Network content (from Google or countless other ad serving networks)
- Gravatar icons
- Embedded videos from YouTube (even if not played, tools like Pingdom and GTMetrix report huge slowdowns in page load time from these)
Here, high-powered WPX servers are sitting around, a little bored, waiting for overloaded servers at Google, Facebook, ad companies, Twitter and retargeting platforms to eventually process the functions that you asked them to carry out, even if the files required are tiny, as you will see below.
BUT before we discuss why this is NOT the end of the world for your website, let’s look at these External Resources seemingly destroying a fast loading speed on the example below – just see how much time each individual request can ADD to the REPORTED loading time, and many platforms DEMAND multiple requests – see the Total Load Time in milliseconds for each (1000 milliseconds = 1 second):
You can review the horrible impact of these External Resources on the Pingdom Tools ‘waterfall’ here (just run the test again if Pingdom’s page isn’t live any more, they keep them up for about 30 days) – your seemingly slow site is probably going to have the same issues.
But, Ladies & Gentlemen Of The Jury, There Is One More Piece Of Crucial Evidence To Consider...
Even though tools like Pingdom and GTMetrix REPORT a slow page loading time, most of those External Resources that I demonized above load in the background AFTER the main content of the page has loaded for human visitors.
So a real, human visitor, not a bot from Pingdom or GTMetrix, will see the page MUCH faster than the REPORTED time shown with these tools.
The easiest test is to go to your own website/s on WPX from different VPN locations (Tunnelbear has a useful free VPN option) and browsers with cleared caches and see how fast they load for you, a real person visiting the site.
Alternate browsers include Microsoft Edge, Opera and Brave.
Typically, you will see your pages on WPX load very quickly for you, and your audience, much faster than whatever MISLEADING time is reported in Pingdom and GTMetrix.
You can also TEMPORARILY remove the code for all those tools/functions from your website and re-test on Pingdom and GTMetrix to see what I’m talking about.
This single point, that External Resources typically load AFTER the main content of the page is the MOST MISUNDERSTOOD aspect of these tools’ reported loading times and why they shouldn’t be automatically believed without further investigation, when a page appears to be loading very slowly according to Pingdom/GTMetrix.
Are There Other Factors Slowing Down My Site?
Quite probably yes, and I wrote about them here.
But this issue around External Resources is one of the biggest we encounter with (initially) unhappy WPX customers.
One reply on “Why Do ‘External Resources’ Screw Up Your Page Loading Time Readings?”
Thank you for this clarification Terry. I freaked yesterday when I saw my Pingdom/GTmetrix/Google speed score too. I needed to read this. 🙂
It’s good to know that most of these seemingly heinous external resources load harmlessly in the background and not interrupt the live user experience. I wish these free speed testing platforms would be a little more transparent and not just flash scary school scores at us dummies. (F!)
Thanks again and thank you for an amazing service and an unequaled customer support staff.
Sincerely – Bill