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How Does Server Side Tracking Affect Page Speed?

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Every marketer knows that page speed is important; a slow website adds friction, so much so that visitors leave altogether. Moreover, it is no secret that Google values page experience, with speed as a ranking factor.

Server Side Tracking is a method used to collect user data without the need for client-side scripts. This affects the overall page speed of your website. Let’s dig deeper into this topic to understand how Server Side Tracking can affect page speed.

Why is Page Speed So Important?

First, let’s understand why page speed is a decisive factor in today’s digital environment. According to Google research, 53% of users leave a site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. This is alarming, especially when you consider that the average mobile page takes a whopping 22 seconds to fully load.

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Faster Load Times by Server Side Tracking

One of the benefits of Server Side Tracking is the reduction of client-side load. Instead of scripts and tags being loaded into the user’s browser (client side), this is now done on the server side (server side). This means your browser has less work to do, making pages load faster.

Because these scripts and tags are now executed directly on the server instead of in your browser, the entire loading process becomes more efficient. This is beneficial to both the website visitor and SEO ranking in Google. And because everything takes place on the server, you have better insight into what data is collected and where it is sent.

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Reduce Server Response Time: Minimize External Dependencies

A faster Web site starts with the server response time (server response time). Delays caused by external services such as analytics tools or ad networks can affect loading speed. This is because the server must wait for a response from an external source over which it has no control, which can lead to potential delays or inconsistencies in server performance. By minimizing external dependencies through Server Side Tracking, you gain more direct control over processing, resulting in faster response time.

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Efficient Data Processing with Local Hosting

With traditional client-side tracking, data from a European website visitor is often sent to a server in the United States, causing delays. But with Server Side Tracking, hosted domestically, this data is processed locally. This significantly reduces data transmission time, resulting in faster website load times and more efficient processing of Google Analytics data. This change has an immediate positive impact: the loading time of web pages shortens and the efficiency of data processing increases.

Minimizes Flicker Effect

Another advantage of Server Side Tracking is that it minimizes the so-called flicker effect. This effect occurs when different tags and scripts are executed on the client-side, which can cause visible delays. Because Server Side Tracking streamlines this process, the chance of flicker is reduced.

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Server Side Tracking and Google’s Core Web Vitals

It is also important to note that Server Side Tracking can help improve Google’s Core Web Vitals. These are metrics that Google uses to assess a website’s overall user experience. Improved page speed is one of these vitals, and implementing Server Side Tracking can contribute positively to this.

Trial and error

But the real question is, does it work? Recent research shows that page speed differs significantly between websites that use tracker tags and those that do not. Notably, the study, which focused on the 50 largest news websites worldwide, showed that average page speed dropped from 9.46 seconds to just 2.69 seconds for publishers who did not use trackers.

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What stood out was that 82% of all tags used were advertising tags. By moving these third-party tags to a server container instead of loading them into the browser, you reduce the amount of JavaScript and HTTP requests that need to be processed. This not only speeds up the loading speed of your website, but also significantly improves the user experience.

Pagespeed test online marketing agency mobile

The second measurement conducted before and after the introduction of Server Side Tracking was done for Flowhub.nl, an online marketing agency. Examining the core Web vitals, there is a notable shift in the Cumulative Layout Shift, from 0.635 to 0.154. This is a significant improvement.

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Pagespeed – for Server Side tracking

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Pagespeed – after Server Side tracking

Total Blocking Time: An Important Factor for Mobile Conversions

One of the important performance indicators for mobile PageSpeed is total blocking time. A decrease from 3472 milliseconds (ms) to 2101 ms was noted in this key metric. That’s a difference of 1371 ms, which can affect user experience and conversion rates.

At Webpagetest, you can dig deeper into the metrics and take a closer look at the blocking time for each script. The findings suggest that the introduction of Server Side Tracking contributes significantly to this improvement.

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Total Blocking Time for Implementation Server Side Tracking
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Total Blocking Time after Implementation Server Side Tracking

Conclusion

How Does Server Side Tracking Affect Page Speed? The implications of Server Side Tracking on page speed are obvious and multifaceted. This technique not only reduces client-side load by moving tracking logic to the server, but also has a positive impact on user experience and SEO ranking. It helps minimize the flicker effect and may even help improve Google’s Core Web Vitals.

Our tests show that there is a noticeable improvement in page speed when Server Side Tracking is implemented, supported by clear differences in pagespeed scores between client-side and server-side methods.

In short, if page speed is a priority for your website – and it should be given its impact on user experience and SEO – then Server Side Tracking is a technique you should seriously consider.

By investing in Server Side Tracking(check out our pricing page), you take an important step in optimizing your website, resulting in a faster, more efficient and more user-friendly environment for your visitors.


About the author

Ate Keurentjes

Ate Keurentjes

Server Side Tracking Specialist at TAGGRS

Ate Keurentjes is a Server Side Tracking specialist at TAGGRS. He has experience with various Google Tag Manager concepts. Keurentjes has been editing and writing about the latest developments and trends in data collection / Server side tracking since 2023.

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