Learn whether Ezoic will slow down your website, if so by how much, and how can you make it fast again
Yes, Ezoic Does Slow Your Site Down But Not As Much As You Might Think In 2021
March 31st, 2022
The short answer is yes, using Ezoic display ads will slow your website down. The longer answer is that it’s probably not by as much as you think and Ezoic have worked really hard over the past few months to reduce the slowdown, and it’s worked.
Why Does Ezoic Slow Your Website Down?
Firstly, it’s important to understand that ANY Ad-network will slow your website down. It’s simply a matter of physics and maths. By placing additional graphical images (which most adverts are going to be) you’re making your visitor download more data. More data to download at a constant download speed equals a longer time to finish downloading.
But there is a bit more to it than just the maths and physics. And that comes down to efficiencies within your advert providers network and the software they use to deliver their ads.
If you look around on the internet for any review of Ezoic, or frequent any forums such as Reddit, you’ll see many, many people lamenting the different integration aspects of Ezoic and lambasting the really slow speeds with which Ezoic powered websites with adverts load.
There’s Recent Changes That Make a BIG Difference Though
Firstly, before we go any further, you can pretty much judge for yourself whether the speed of Ezoic driven ads is acceptable or not, because this site uses Ezoic and has done for quite some time. The adverts you’re seeing on this site help to pay for the content we provide to you for free.
Ezoic Site Speed Accelerator Price is Now FREE
The biggest recent change that Ezoic has made, is to make the ezoic site speed accelerator price actually free. It’s been rebranded as Ezoic LEAP and we’ll go into more details about LEAP below. But, whereas it used to cost extra to return your site to some sort of normalcy after Ezoic ads slowed it down, it’s now part of the bundle. I’m pleased about this change
We, as independent publishers, keep a constant eye on the page speed of Most Useful and our other websites using various metrics. Some of them are provided by Ezoic themselves, others are provided by automated testing tools we use to keep an eye on things, and still more are provided by Matomo – the self hosted analytics system we use to make sure everything’s tickety-boo.
And over the past four months or so we’ve noticed that our site speed has been consistently improving month on month – and this coincides with some changes Ezoic have implemented and continue to improve.
It’s fair to say that I’ve done a significant amount of optimization myself as well to improve the page load speed – and I’m not sure there’s a huge amount left that I can do. But also, we need to bear in mind that absolute page load speed is not as important as perceived load speed. Unfortunately, perceived load speed is much hard to quantify. I’ll go into that in more depth further down the article.
How To Speed Up Ezoic Ad Based Website
There’s a number of ways you can speed up an Ezoic Ad driven website, ranging from easy to technical. I’ve used all of the methods I’m going to go into here;
The simplest solution for most people is going to be by using Ezoic’s new Leap Optimization system which is free for all Ezoic Ad Publishers.
This is a significant improvement over the previous Ezoic Site Speed Accelerator for 2 reasons;
Leap is free for Ezoic Publishers to use. Ezoic Site Speed Accelerator price was previously cost $19/mth.
Leap is better at optimizing your site than Site Speed Accelerator was.
It’s easy to use too. Just switch it on and set it to optimize. If you’re struggling you can reach out to Ezoic and have someone from their team help you too.
Use Their Nameserver Integration
I see a huge number of people complaining about this. I don’t understand why. I am a technical person and I am fully capable of running my own nameserver infrastructure. Indeed, I do for some of the other websites I manage.
But there’s simply no need to if you’re running Ezoic ads on your website. The nameserver integration is simple, works, and provides you with an instant Content Delivery Network (CDN) which puts your content as close to your audience as possible. The CDN is based around different geographical locations in the world using Amazon’s AWS technology.
The Nameserver integration is all performed through an easy to understand web interface, and in reality the only two addresses you’re likely to need to worry about are the domain itself and the www address. Both of these will get remapped to Ezoic CDN addresses and then Ezoic uses the address you enter to get the content from your web server (known as an Origin server). It’s easy and it works.
If you’re running Ezoic Ads and not using their nameserver integration and disagree with me please leave a comment with your point of view – I’d be very interested to hear it. For me, it’s akin to having a dog but barking at the doorbell yourself.
Use The Ezoic WordPress Plugin With Nameserver Integration
If you’re using WordPress to host your website – and you probably are – then until recently Ezoic recommended using only the nameserver integration – for the reasons outlined above. But in a conversation I’ve recently had with their support (who are excellent by the way) they highlighted that the new plugin is Leap aware and integrates your WordPress installation with the nameserver integration much better than it previously did. In fact, previously it was a ‘one or the other’ type situation.
Ezoic now recommend you use both the Nameserver integration and the Ezoic plugin. And the reason for this is because the Ezoic plugin also integrates with the CDN to enable the CDN to cache content for a very long time but be refreshed if you update a post. It gives the best of both worlds. I’ll go into more detail in the next subsection.
Setup The Ezoic CDN Cache For a LONG Expiry
Caching is the concept whereby a copy of a web page is kept on a system and delivered to the end user without the back-end web server being involved. In the case we’re talking about here, the content is kept on Ezoic’s CDN and delivered without even asking your server if it’s up to date.
This has the effect of knocking off up to a second (or more) of page creation and delivery time for the end user. But the downside is that the end user might not be getting the most up to date page from your site, because Ezoic delivered it without asking you first.
You can control how long Ezoic will do this for through the use of cache-control headers and all manner of things within WordPress and your own web server. Or you can ignore all that and setup Ezoic’s caching algorithms just to cache everything for as long as you think is appropriate.
If your existing content rarely changes, but you add new content daily, this isn’t a big problem. You can tell Ezoic’s system not to cache the ‘Blogroll’ (usually the front page) page at all, nor the sitemap.xml file. In this way the search engines (and your customers) will always see new content as you publish it. But existing content will be served from the CDN (and any subsequent requests for that brand new content will as well, after the first request) and speedy.
If you update existing content regularly then this approach may not work for you. Unless you use the new Ezoic WordPress plugin as mention above.
If you’re using the WordPress plugin as recommended, you can set the Ezoic CDN to cache everything, for a long time. Months or even years if you like. When WordPress publishes a new page, the Ezoic plugin will flush the homepage and the updated page from its cache, forcing a fresh copy to be requested. Meaning you get the best of both worlds.
WordPress, Consider Headless Using Eleventy or Gatsby
As I mentioned, I’m pretty technical and so I’ve set this site up to use Gatsby. I was using Eleventy for a while, but preferred, in the end, the flexibility and power that Gatsby gives me.
I still use WordPress on the backend, partially because I have so much content already stored in it, and partially because it just works. I considered Ghost, but can’t be bothered to migrate.
By using Gatsby I lose the ability to use the new WordPress plugin. But what I gain is complete control over the way my site looks and the HTML that is created. My Lighthouse scores for the site are in the 60s with WordPress and 100 with Gatsby (without ads).
If you’re starting from a basis of 60 as a Lighthouse score then it makes it more difficult for Leap to optimize your page for speed. Although it will improve your score from that, there’s only so much it can be expected to do. For me, I wanted to start from 100 and let it do what it could to keep it all fast.
Flush The Ezoic Page Cache From Gatsby
Actually that’s a bit misleading – but you can flush the Ezoic cache using your npm package.json command rules. I’m not sure when Ezoic introduced it, but they now have a REST API which can be used to flush individual pages within their CDN, or flush the entire cache.
I use this when I build my site in Gatsby. If everything is successful I deploy it to my own server using rsync, and then flush the Ezoic cache. The last step of manual work I had has now gone and my process is streamlined. I write a post like this in WordPress. When I publish it, a hook is called which pokes a Github action, which runs through the build and deploy process and then flushes the Ezoic cache. All automatically.
Earlier in this post I noted that there can be a big difference between the absolute speed a page loads at versus the perceived speed of the page. Many technologies now exist to make a page appear to load considerably faster than it actually does and Ezoic’s Leap technology takes advantage of this.
So it’s important to test your pages manually yourself and see how they perform from a users perspective. In the case of Ezoic, it’s often the case that a Lighthouse or GTMetrix score looks bad, but in reality the user will never notice.
These days Ezoic adverts are smart enough to know what size they are going to be before the page is loaded, but the ads themselves aren’t loaded until after the main content is. This is called lazy loading and is a technique used for larger images in websites too. It works nicely. It may mean you miss out (rarely) on some ad-revenue – but your users get to see the content they want quickly.
With Ezoic and the way it’s all implemented there is no page jumping around either, as the placeholders are set to the expected size of the ad that will fill them ahead of time, meaning the layout doesn’t jump around. This is an important user experience metric upon which Google is placing more relevance than ever for deciding which site should rank in the search engine results page.
Below you can see the results from my Google Search Console data for the Desktop Experience for this site, taken on Friday 21st January 2022.
Ezoic will slow down your web site but not by as much as it used to and probably by not as much as you think.
Below this paragraph are two images. The top one is the GTMetrix report for one of our other sites which uses Ezoic adverts. The one below that is a GTMetrix report of the same site but without Ezoic ads. As you can see, without any ads, gives a GTMetrix score of 100 (thanks to Gatsby). Historically, the version with ads would have received a really poor GTMetrix score of E or F. But after using Leap it still gains a very respectable grade B, and the important metrics of Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) is green, and Cumulative Layout Shift (or how much the page moves around while it’s loading) is 0.02 – or almost none.
Try Ezoic On Your Site
If you’re building a website and looking to earn some money from it, Ezoic really is a good choice these days. The naysayers you’ll meet are all coming from a point in history where it really did harm the user experience to run with Ezoic. But it’s just not the case any more.