• Phone:

    502-225-3000

Drift and SEO

Optimizing For Page Speed: The High Price Of Drift In SEO

Drift AI Bot Aims To Improve Conversions, But Its Performance Kills Speed And Sinks Your SEO Ranking

This an updated discussion on the use of Drift as an AI bot.  We go through the reason why this is important, we look at why its a problem and I’ll show you the results of recommendations offered by Drift.  It’s also important to note that Drift essentially admits there is a problem and they claim to be working to address it.  At least that’s inferred from this discussion providing a possible fix Tips For Optimizing Page Speed When Using Drift.  Before you follow those instructions, I’ll save you time … don’t until you read the results after I followed them.

Drift Community On Page Speed

These chat applications allow web visitors to talk with web staffers.  It depends on how you implement this tool but Drift has clearly focused on the sales and conversion niche.  Drift claims that it helps sites discover potential customers and provides an avenue to lead visitors into customers.  It all makes sense certainly, but Drift is executed in a very sloppy way that pays little regard to SEO and drives your site’s traffic into the ground.

Weighing The Conversions Vs The Page Speed

A plugin that may cause 50% of visitors to convert, that takes 11 seconds to load will just break even.  How do I mean?  I mean you’d have been just as successful without it and loading the site in 4 seconds.  In fact, thats better because now you don’t have to pay for anyone to man the Drift chat.

If we believe Google research, if you don’t … you forget it only matters what they think, we know that users expect a site to load within 3 seconds.  

At about the 5th second, we start to see about 10% of traffic abandon the still loading page for another search result.  Each additional second over 5% we see another 10% drop in traffic.  By the time we reach 10 or 11 seconds, we’ve lost at least half our traffic.  

Now that’s just the real effect on traffic, the further implications are the drop in ratings for SEO keywords.

CTR or User Behavior has become the greatest factor in determining a site’s ability to rank well for a keyword.  It makes sense.  If I Googled “Matthew Leffler” and of the results listed I clicked the first option only to find it loads in 11 seconds I’d go back and try the second result.  Thats bad bounce rating and that result wont be ranked number 1 for long as the 2nd result is the one people click on and stick with.

So as a page decreases in keyword rank due to users abandoning the page for a faster option, we know that the page is also losing its ranking thereby further decreasing the traffic on the site.  Traffic increasing improves your ranking, traffic that is trending down is not going to help you.

In our example Drift would push off the page load for 11 seconds and at that point we’d only have 50% of the audience still waiting.  If Drift could convert 1 in 2 visitors … that would break even after costing the site half its traffic.

So this is why Drift and Page Speed are a concern.

Live Chat – Conversion Generator Or Annoying And Pushy?

Sites of all kinds are adding them and in various degrees of ways.  Ultimate SEO added its live chat component but I’d call it a passive chat option.  Visitors had it available to them but the live chat didn’t use any means to start a conversation.  I actually find the “active chat” intrusive and fake.

No, Brian, who’s picture is next to some text, “Hi there, can I help you?” I’ve just landing on your site, give me a minute.  It’s like a shopping experience at The Buckle.  (For those of us who remember shopping for clothes at a mall). The Buckle was aggressive, they hounded you and tossed clothes at you on the way to the fitting room, regardless of how ridiculous you looked they always told you, to buy that!

Live chat can be that way too.  It can be a tool available to the visitor or a tool available to the web site owner and there is a difference.   Heres an example:

Intercom Live ChatAhrefs.com – Semi-passive, it is there and an option to you but after about a minute theres a red notification 1 and dialogue from “Helen” it takes up a sizable part of the screen and lacks an obvious way to close it.  They aren’t using Drift but a competitor Intercom Live Chat.  Same difference though to the live chat discussion.

I hate being asked stuff like that with these dialogue boxes.  I sincerely doubt that “Helen” is really trying to actively help me at that moment.  She’s a set of rules and timers that will pass me off to a sales person if I interact with her.  In many ways it is like dealing with the Phantom of the Opera.  ” Keep your hands at the level of your eyes!” if you make eye contact, it’s over.

 

Adding Live Chat To Your Website With Drift

This is a note of caution with Drift and SEO.  Drift is a chat plugin, or embed code and a Cloudflare App which allows a site owner or staff to interact proactively with web visitors.  It’s great for lead generation and I have a client that swears by it, which is what lead me to test it out.

I used it for a month or so on this site with minimal appeal.  A lot of the useful stuff seemed to require a paid account.  I couldn’t for instance see how many visitor didn’t use the tool vs the one person who did.  

Sure I have analytics that tell me page hits and unique visitors, but that doesn’t tell me how many of those had the Drift pop up box work on their visit.  It could have been blocked by some, but I wont know.  

Assuming everyone got Drift delivered to them only one person ever messaged using it.  Annoyingly thats a very high price in terms of code sent to visitors that didn’t use it and that added processing time does affect a sites ranking.

How Much Did Drift Affect Page Load

Immensely.  Like a stupidly insane cost to page load was easily seen.  Its so bad I’ll tell ya out right I highly discourage Drift on any site attempting to rank on Google.  Here is the GTMetrix report for my site with Drift.

Page Speed With Drift

At 14 seconds the site is doing basically the worst I’ve ever seen.  Considering the page size and requests its not that big nor does it require a ton of requests.  I consider under 100 a safe place.  But that means nothing next to 13.5 seconds.

Now when I removed Drift and reran the test.  I got the results below…

Page Speed Without DriftThat’s what I mean by insanely stupid.  Simply removing Drift decreased the page requests by almost half!  The load time for the page drops to almost a third of what it was with Drift.  4.6 seconds vs 13.5 seconds is astonishing.  8.9 seconds … just call it 9 at that point.  The goal of course is under 3 seconds and Drift alone is 3 times the amount.  When we consider that 1000 visitors came to the site in the last month that would mean Drift added 9000 seconds to users wait time to load the homepage.  Imagine that Drift is on every page what that delay was PER PAGE!  The homepage alone would have taken 2.5 hours longer in visitors combined wait times.

It can’t be that bad….YES IT REALLY IS.  That’s horrific in SEO terms.  You had best get a huge amount of conversion and consider a PPC campaign because honestly your SEO rankings are set to tank in mobile searches.  Which begs the question, how important is it to conversions if no one comes to the site since its listed on page 3 because of Drift.

This was with using the Cloudflare App version, which should be the fastest way to do it.  It moves Drift closer to the visitors on the Cloudflare edge servers.

How Do We Fix Drift?

Drift has to address its sloppy coding experience.  Why they require 40 something requests is beyond rational thought.  The payload of your site’s pages isn’t going to clear the tower, Drift should rebrand itself Challenger.

Drift
** ADVANCE FOR USE FRIDAY, JAN. 28, 2011 AND THEREAFTER ** FILE – In this Jan. 28, 1986 file photo, the space shuttle Challenger explodes shortly after lifting off from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. (AP Photo/Bruce Weaver, File)

 

I’m not trying to be over the top, but when one thing that’s supposed to help you, takes 3 times the total time you have to deliver your message … it’s not good.  I’d argue you’re better off with a page that loads in 4.6 seconds without it.

According to Google research each second over 5 seconds 10% of your audience abandons your site.  That’s nearly half the visitors lost if you can get the page to load in 10 seconds.

Results Of Following Drift’s Optimization Tips We’re Mixed At Best

To keep it isolated to addressing just Drift I made a completely blank html page on my client’s server as the control.  We then made two additional blank pages but with each we added code derived from Drift Communities Tips.  One to load drift after one second and the second to load Drift after scrolling has happened on the page.

The point to delaying the loading of Drift is to attempt to make two events separate.  The long loading of Drift … and the loading of the page which is essential for mobile rankings.  

I want though to point out, this is a lie.  It’s just an attempt to fool Google into not counting the time it takes Drift to load.  This doesn’t resolve the real issue … Drift takes too long to load.

The real way to solve this issue is to either ditch Drift for a competitor, which there are several and we can discuss that and testing later in this article, or for them to fix their code.  

The only options offered though at this time from Drift appear to try and game the system.  

Its alot like finding out priests are molesting children, and then trying to keep the kid quiet.  That’s not the problem … we should be getting the priest to stop hurting kids and Drift to stop loading up 30+ resources over 4 seconds.

It’s also worth noting that we use Cloudflare as a means to speed up the site’s performance as well.  I only mention this so that you can consider the use of a CDN when reviewing the following page times.

Code To Push Drift Off The Initial Page Load

 

 

 

Drift Test Page Control: Nothing

<html>
</html>

Drift Test Page One: Delayed Loading

<html>
<head>
<!–Start of Async Drift Code –>
<script>
“use strict”;
setTimeout
(function(){ 
     LoadDriftWidget() 
}, 1000)
!function() {
  var t = window.driftt = window.drift = window.driftt || [];
  if (!t.init) {
    if (t.invoked) return void (window.console && console.error && console.error(“Drift snippet included twice.”));
    t.invoked = !0, t.methods = [ “identify”, “config”, “track”, “reset”, “debug”, “show”, “ping”, “page”, “hide”, “off”, “on” ], 
    t.factory = function(e) {
      return function() {
        var n = Array.prototype.slice.call(arguments);
        return n.unshift(e), t.push(n), t;
      };
    }, t.methods.forEach(function(e) {
      t[e] = t.factory(e);
    }), t.load = function(t) {
      var e = 3e5, n = Math.ceil(new Date() / e) * e, o = document.createElement(“script”);
      o.type = “text/javascript”, o.async = !0, o.crossorigin = “anonymous”, o.src = “https://js.driftt.com/include/” + n + “/” + t + “.js”;
      var i = document.getElementsByTagName(“script”)[0];
      i.parentNode.insertBefore(o, i);
    };
  }
  drift.SNIPPET_VERSION = ‘0.3.1’;
  drift.load(‘xxxxxxxx’);
};
</script>

</head>
<body>

This page loads Drift after a 1 second delay
</body>
</html>

Drift Test Page Two: On Scroll

<html>
<head>

<script src=”/cdn-cgi/apps/head/ZfiB4ilx20z6HzaoanfAMsXwGzg.js”></script><script>
“use strict”;
setTimeout
(function(){
window.addEventListener(‘scroll’, function(e) {
LoadDriftWidget()})
})
function LoadDriftWidget() {
var t = window.driftt = window.drift = window.driftt || [];
if (!t.init) {
if (t.invoked) return void (window.console && console.error && console.error(“Drift snippet included twice.”));
t.invoked = !0, t.methods = [ “identify”, “config”, “track”, “reset”, “debug”, “show”, “ping”, “page”, “hide”, “off”, “on” ],
t.factory = function(e) {
return function() {
var n = Array.prototype.slice.call(arguments);
return n.unshift(e), t.push(n), t;
};
}, t.methods.forEach(function(e) {
t[e] = t.factory(e);
}), t.load = function(t) {
var e = 3e5, n = Math.ceil(new Date() / e) * e, o = document.createElement(“script”);
o.type = “text/javascript”, o.async = !0, o.crossorigin = “anonymous”, o.src = “https://js.driftt.com/include/” + n + “/” + t + “.js”;
var i = document.getElementsByTagName(“script”)[0];
i.parentNode.insertBefore(o, i);
};
}
drift.SNIPPET_VERSION = ‘0.3.1’;
drift.load(‘xxxxxxx’);
};
</script>
–>
</head>
<body>
Code entered to load drift after a scroll event
<div style=”height: 1000px;”></div>
Code above needed to create a scroll opportunity.
</body>
</htm

Page Speed Results

Our control page loaded in 240 ms according to GTMetrix.com . So we know that the server may account for a quarter of a second of the page load.

Test Page One, loaded Drift a second after the page loaded.  No errors were seen while inspecting the page.  After running the test we see GTMetrix is NOT counting Drift.  It reports a load time close to half a second.

Test Page Two loaded Drift on the event of a user scrolling.  We run it through GTMetrix.com and it was not observed in the initial page load.

BUT Does It?  Does It Really?

So GTMetrix showed it achieving the goal and Drift no longer effects page load but what about Google?  They are the ones we are really concerned about and Google Page Speed Insights can be easily used to display the Google timing of the page load.

What does Google think?

When loading the first test page we get the first image, the second is the second image below:

 

Those are not duplicates, it is the speed test of each page they just both happen to be the same … 4.4 seconds before they consider it loaded.

Thats horrible, because again…there is NO content on the page.  The page is just Drift and it loads 1.4 seconds longer than our goal for the entire page of 3 seconds.  

If we add anything to the page we’ll be pushed above 5 seconds and start losing 1 in 10 visitors.

This is a failure.

We didn’t address the problem nor did we fool Google.

Whats even more annoying here is that the small amount of code we added has nothing about 40 other requested files, suggesting that the code we enter doesn’t load Drift but it loads an application that we can’t touch that then loads Drift.

So this means we are helpless to optimize their bad coding.

Drift Alternatives

Drift isn’t the only option either.  I haven’t tested these but they can’t be any worse…

LiveChat.com, twak.com, crisp.com, and there’s a ton more.

So summary…using Drift is like killing half your web traffic to ask 1 in 1000 how you can help.

 

Matthew Leffler
Author: Matthew Leffler

Matthew Leffler is a freelance SEO on Upwork.com and SEOClerks.com with 20 years of technical experience and a technical education background. In those years of experience he's worked in several technical roles in informtation technology and software training. Matt has worked at Hewlett-Packard and Gateway Computers. Matthew earned his BSIT, MBA in Technology Management and MEd in Instructional Design. He holds over a dozen active technical certifications including A+, Netowrk+, Security+, Project+, is a Certified Webmaster Professional, and a HDI Help Desk Analyst.

Summary
Optimizing For Page Speed: The High Price Of Drift In SEO
Article Name
Optimizing For Page Speed: The High Price Of Drift In SEO
Description
Drift a WordPress pluggin and chat service is popular with marketers for reaching web visitors and its lead generation capability. Its also a sloppy, poorly coded pluggin that can wipe out your site's technical SEO advantages.
Author
Ultimate SEO
Ultimate SEO LLC
https://ultimateseo.org/wp-content/uploads/ultimateseoimpactsm.png

Matthew Leffler

https://ultimateseo.org

Matthew Leffler is a freelance SEO on Upwork.com and SEOClerks.com with 20 years of technical experience and a technical education background. In those years of experience he's worked in several technical roles in informtation technology and software training. Matt has worked at Hewlett-Packard and Gateway Computers. Matthew earned his BSIT, MBA in Technology Management and MEd in Instructional Design. He holds over a dozen active technical certifications including A+, Netowrk+, Security+, Project+, is a Certified Webmaster Professional, and a HDI Help Desk Analyst.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Theme Modified For Maximum SEO Value By Matthew Leffler of Ultimate SEO