Why Do Tags Hurt Your Site?

Over the last few years the tagging scene has blown up.  It started with analytics awhile back, but quickly expanded to other digital marketing ventures.  Early on companies found that adding a tag to their site was easier than past integrations with heavy IT work on the back end.  Vendors realized traditional integrations were too painful.  A quicker and easier way to sell their service was through tagging; “it only takes 15 minutes to add our tag, just copy and paste.”  Now there must be well over 500 different vendors that offer a tagging solution.  Tags are simply here to stay.

So what’s the deal with tags?  Why do tags hurt my site?  Any single tag by itself is negligible in terms of site performance, but every little bit adds up; think death by a thousand paper cuts.  Some sites have a handful of tags, others can have dozens or even a hundred tags.  Any given tag takes time to download and execute.

If we take a low average of 100 milliseconds to load and execute a single tag, 10 tags adds at least 1 second to your page speed.  1 second may not sound like much, but in internet time it’s worth 20-40% of your traffic or 7% of your revenue.  Google’s study shows an increase of 500ms reduced their traffic by 20%.  Amazon’s study shows 100ms reduces their sales by 1% and that was years ago.

Tags aren’t the vendor’s core product, they are just the means to an end.  That means vendor’s don’t take pride in creating a high performing tag.  They don’t take the time to keep their tags up to date with current standards.  They know their tag by itself isn’t going to hurt that much, so why focus on that when their core product is where the money is at.  That leaves us with a less than optimal tag, a tag that can hurt our sites.

There are things you can look for to determine if a tag can hurt your site.  For starters, look for a tag that uses document.write.  This JavaScript function can cause serious concern for your site’s usabilty, reliability and speed.  It can cause your site to display blank pages.  It can stop your pages from loading completely.  It can cause error messages to popup.  It can cause your content or menus to not function properly.  It’s an obtrusive method for tagging that can cause many different kinds of issues, hurting your site and ultimately hurting your business goals.

There are other ways you can identify tags that hurt your site: look for tags that can be refactored, minified and / or combined.   If you’re interested in further exploration, feel welcome to continue the conversation in the comments or contact us for more information. Ali … tag, you’re it!

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