We display AdSense content ads, link unit ads, matched content ads and page level ads on our sites. Google AdSense works well on our sites from monetary aspect. But it doesn’t end here, there is another bitter side of displaying AdSense ads. It heavily drags your site’s page loading speed and create unpleasant experience for users. Though this is true for all types of ad networks, Google AdSense is one of the top dragging factor of the page speed.
AdSense Vs Page Speed – An Irony
As per Wikipedia, Google earned 22% of its revenue from AdSense during 2014 and this is the same situation for other years as well.
In Q1 2014, Google earned US $3.4 billion ($13.6 billion annualized), or 22% of total revenue, through Google AdSense.
More than 14 million sites are using AdSense and the publishers need to place a piece of asynchronous script code on their webpages in order to display ads. Below are the type of ads supported by AdSense:
- Image and text ads with no limit on a page
- Horizontal and vertical link ad units
- Two search boxes
- Page-level ads for mobile devices
- Matched content ads for content recommendation
Ideally an eligible publisher can place all these types of ads on a single page. Recently Google also removed the limit of placing three content ads on a page and allows publishers to place ads proportionate to the content length on the page.
Sounds good? Well not!!! Speed is one of the algorithmic factors for deciding the ranking of webpages on Google search results. So placing all these ads on a page will kill the page loading speed and take down your search engine ranking.
One side Google is pushing for speed and HTTPS, on other side AdSense ads will slow the pages. It’s an irony, company that earns >20% of revenue from a product has contradictory vision to confuse common users. If you are AdSense publisher and looking for fast loading pages then it’s a high time for you to look for alternatives like affiliate marketing.
AdSense Vs Google PageSpeed Insights Tool
Google owns a page speed testing tool called PageSpeed Insights. Unfortunately, it is designed in a way not clearly showing most of the AdSense related issues. Below is the PageSpeed score of the site showing 91 on desktop.
There are only two issues shown under consider fixing category:
Pingdom and GTmetrix Test
The same page when tested on pingdom and GTmetrix shows 73 and 80% score respectively with too many issues.
So test your AdSense pages on pingdom or GTmetrix to understand all issues and not on Google PageSpeed Insight tools.
AdSense Page Speed Issues
Google loads the ad images through the server “https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/”. When you see the link with this URL in page speed testing then it’s from AdSense ads. Below are some of the page speed issues related to AdSense ads:
- As the images in the ads can’t be cached you will see optimize images and leverage browser caching issues. This will be a real problem for matched content ads which will display image for each article.
- Advertisers still use HTTP servers to distribute ads, this will create mixed content issue when your site is loading on HTTPS.
Let us discuss each option in detail.
1. Ad Balance
Google AdSense account has a feature called Ad Balance. This will help you to check the percentage of ad serving that contributes to your revenue. In most cases, 90% of the revenue is generated from fewer ads on the site due to prominent placement. Basically you can remove all other ads to provide better user experience with no or less impact on the revenue.
2. Remove Matched Content Ads
Based on our usage we found that the matched content ads have one of the lowest CPC among different categories of ads. You will hardly earn few dollars per month especially when your page views are less. Each image shown on the matched content ad will create problem like image compression and leverage browser caching. As it is a block of post recommendation (along with ads if supported on your account), this will be a major speed killer not worth for earning few dollars.
3. Page-Level Ads
Similar to matched content ads, page-level ads also earns very less CPC from advertisers. Though the ads will only load on mobile devices and only on the popular pages, the scripts will load on all devices on all pages. We recommend to remove these page-level ads to improve page loading speed.
So you can remove matched content ads and page-level ads without losing much revenue.
Now that Google changed the page-level ads to auto ads. We don’t see any speed improvement can happen with this as the code remains same.
4. Disable Rich Media Ads
This action may impact your revenue, so test this by setting up an experiment. Disable the image and video ads so that the image related issues (generally high priority) can be eliminated. You can do this by choosing ad type as text ads and disable video ads in ad restriction.
5. Placing Less Number of Ads with Other Scripts
As a rule of thumb place only three or less ads on a page. You can place more ads on the pages with 1000+ words so that the content length is monetized with number of ads. The speed of your site also depends on other plugins, images and scripts used on the page. Hence, if you have too many scripts (dynamic pages) running on your page then avoid placing many ads on that page.
6. Monitor Actual Loading Speed
Besides using various speed testing tools the best way to monitor the actual loading speed is to use Google Analytics. You can integrate AdSense with Analytics account in order to quickly view the performance of pages displaying ads under “Behavior > Site Speed” section. Taking corrective actions according to the speed score and recommendations will help to increase the speed and user experience.