How to Optimize Websites for Ad Publishers

As an ad publisher, your revenue depends on two main factors:  traffic to your site and ad optimization.  A lot of the focus goes into the practice and processes of driving traffic to your site from an SEO perspective, but what if when visitors get to your site, they have a less than ideal experience? All the effort and time that went into creating and driving traffic to your site would be for nothing if the visitor lands on your page and doesn’t take any action.  And if they did have a poor experience, how would you know for sure?  Page speed has been a key factor in Google’s ranking algorithm since 2010, so it is essential to understand the various ways you can optimize your pages and why implementing synthetic monitoring can ensure your pages perform flawlessly and revenue isn’t lost.

Find Your Performance Baseline

In order to begin optimizing your pages, you’ll need to see how your pages are currently performing. Running a website speed test can help to determine what factors may be slowing your pages down. There are tools available such as Dotcom-Monitor’s free speed test that you can utilize to gauge performance. The tool gives you the option to run a speed test from 25 locations around the world.  Remember, speed is key to the user experience. If a majority of your visitors are from specific locations, you need to determine performance from their perspective.  And not only that, the tool also allows you to select from different desktop/mobile browsers, which comes in handy if you know what devices your visitors utilize.

Once the test is complete, the tool provides a waterfall chart, along with a detailed summary of performance that includes errors, host, and the slowest/fastest elements.  including DNS, Connection, SSL, Request, First packet, and Download.

Optimize Your Pages

As your speed test results will probably show, most of the time spent loading your page is for downloading images and initializing JavaScript. The more HTTP requests you have, the longer it will take your site to load. Reducing these requests can help speed up page load times.  Some of the main offenders that slow down page load time are typically images, CSS, HTML, JavaScript files, and render-blocking elements that slow DOM timings.

  • Images: Many image files do not use optimal compression, which in turn, makes your site load slower. There are many free image compression tools that you can use to quickly and easily optimize your images. (One of our favorite image compression tools is TinyPNG.)
  • CSS, HTML, & JavaScript: For the other on-page elements, like CSS, HTML, and JavaScript, reducing, or minifying, the number of elements and combining them can optimize your page and increase page load speed. That simply includes cleaning your code and removing any unnecessary characters, like spaces, commas, or redundant code. If you are running on a CMS platform like WordPress, there are a number of minification plugins available.
  • Render-blocking Elements and DOM Timings: Before your browser renders a page, it must build a DOM tree. Every time your browser encounters an HTML element, it must create a JavaScript object, called a node. After all the elements are processed, a tree structure of all these objects is created and the page can be displayed. However, for example, if your site loads any external JavaScript or external CSS files, the DOM creation stops until those specific files are downloaded and parsed. These render-blocking elements can dramatically reduce page speed time.  Setting them up to load asynchronously can help speed load times.
  • Browser Caching: Although it may seem commonplace, caching is sometimes overlooked. Like we just mentioned, your browsers store a ton of information, CSS, images, JavaScript, etc. Depending on how often you change content, you may want to set a long expiration time for your cache. Caching can ensure your browser doesn’t have to load all those elements if a visitor returns to your pages. Again, for those running WordPress, we recommend WP-Rocket.

Synthetic Monitoring: Continuous Website Performance Monitoring

Optimizing your site from an SEO perspective is certainly an essential piece of the puzzle. But as we’ve mentioned, if your pages don’t perform to your visitors’ expectations, they’ll quickly lose interest and leave.  As if website speed wasn’t enough, Google has recently announced that user metrics will become a core ranking factor by 2021.

Implementing a synthetic monitoring solution can allow you to continuously monitor your web pages for performance issues.  Traditional monitoring solutions only tell you if your site is up or not.  Synthetic monitoring goes even further by simulating visitors to your pages.  And unlike Real User Monitoring (RUM) solutions, where you need actual user data to understand how your pages are performing, synthetic monitoring can be set up to run continuously, so teams can be notified the exact moment issues occur.

Dotcom-Monitor Website Monitoring

Web performance solutions like Dotcom-Monitor offer real browser-based monitoring for your web pages and applications to establish performance benchmarks. If performance is impacted by any page elements, an alert is sent that details the issue to help pinpoint where the issue occurred. Additionally, the solution captures a video that is synced with the waterfall chart, so you can easily diagnose page errors, minimize downtime, and ultimately, impact to visitors.

Another key feature of the Dotcom-Monitor platform is the EveryStep Web Recorder. The recorder is used to script visitor actions, as well as being able to verify images and page content, and upload those steps for ongoing monitoring. This is critical for ad publishers, as ad placements have a direct impact on revenue by allowing visitors to be able to see and access your ad placements.  By validating that your images and content renders properly, you ensure that on-page content is consistent for all visitors across various desktop and mobile platforms.

The Dotcom-Monitor platform also offers solutions to monitor your Internet Infrastructure, such web servers and DNS servers. Server response time can be affected by the number of visitors, page resources, or even your hosting provider. A slow DNS resolution can translate to slow web page performance. Identifying any server bottlenecks ensures your web pages and other critical services are running.

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