AdWords landing page load time precautions

AdWords just announced that they will soon factor in landing page load times into the quality score that helps determine your ad’s position. The reasons for this are, in effect, to reward site owners who provide responsive sites and punish those that make users wait.

We have no idea yet how much of an impact this will have on most advertisers, although we suspect that only those sites that are annoyingly slow will see a significant impact since it’s not in Google’s interest to deter many advertisers. Still, it’s best to consider the following factors for improving download speed:

  • Avoid redirecting to other pages or using some form of interstitial advertising. In other words, if the landing page for an ad is landingpage.htm, don’t have that page shunt them over to someotherpage.htm unless you have a really, really good reason. I can’t think of any.
  • Make sure your graphics files aren’t larger than they need to be. Use appropriate compression and formats (GIF, JPG, PNG).
  • Don’t use tons and tons of image files.
  • Avoid lots of different include files, particularly if they are from different hosts as these dependencies can individually or cumulatively increase download times.
  • If you are using JavaScript for counters and analytics, place them as far down in the HTML as you can, such as right before the closing body tag as Google Analytics suggests for their code. This will typically allow a page to render even if the included file is delayed.
  • If your page and all of its includes are more than 50k, start cleaning house.

Again, we don’t think it’s likely that this will impact most advertisers, so we aren’t counseling wholesale re-engineering of landing pages. Besides, the above are best practices for any page that you have (theoretically) already been applying. Right?

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