Spring Cleaning Your Website with Jacob Feltner and Lauren Gray | Mediavine On Air Episode 45

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Spring is here and winter is DONE! Well, sort of.

But that’s not going to stop us from our favorite annual tradition: spring cleaning!

Whether it’s your office or your bedroom, it’s important to stay organized, clean, and throw all the clutter away. As a content creator, your website is no different.

On today’s episode we have Mediavine’s Sr. Support Engineer Manager Jacob Feltner and Once Coupled’s Lauren Gray. Jacob and Lauren are talking spring cleaning for your site, with everything from auditing your plugins to their favorite tools to use.

This episode is packed with actionable tips so if you learn something, make sure to let us know and share what stood out to you!

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[MUSIC PLAYING] JENNY GUY: Hey everybody, welcome. It is Thursday, March 12. It is a little bit crazy in our world right now. But we are here. I am Jenny Guy. I’m the Director of Marketing for Mediavine and the host of Teal Talk. And I’m very grateful that you are joining us today.

In current events, daylight savings time started for most of the US states over the weekend, which coincided with International Women’s Day and resulted in more confusion and deprivation for females, perfect. And then in other news, spring starts officially one week from today, the season of rebirth, and fresh starts, and green grass. And I think that that’s something we could all do with right now in our lives.

I know that on everybody’s minds and thoughts right now is what’s going on in our world and in our country. But what I’m excited about is we can have a whole hour to just sit in our home pods and talk about our websites and not the big elephant in the room, the virus elephant in the room. I’m so excited.

So as I was saying, spring, rebirth, green grass, fresh starts, which means it’s time for spring cleaning, which could be your closet, your pantry, pockets of your winter coats. Unless you are me, and you love the dollar pocket lottery to happen when the next year– you know, when you put on your coat that you haven’t worn in eight months, and you stick your hand in the pocket, and you’re like, $5. It’s– it gets me every time.

But what we’re talking about today, us being Mediavine, is your website. Have any of you guys ever done this? A deep and thorough cleansing to get rid of the things you don’t need anymore that are just taking up space and weighing and slowing you down. It sounds like a great idea. But how do you make this happen? Enter my amazing guests.

Lauryn Gray is the founder of Once Coupled and believes in doing everything with passion and transparency, which mostly means she sends really long emails riddled with exclamation points. Girl, same. She’s worked with over 500 plus bloggers on projects from reducing above the fold white space, to taking a site from a zero-page speed optimization score to green.

When she’s not making your site faster and easier for you to manage, Lauren enjoys crime TV, mojitos, and long walks on the beach with her dog. Hi, Lauren. Welcome back to Teal Talk. It’s been a while.

LAUREN GRAY: It has been. I think we did a spring talk like this last year.

JACOB FELTNER: We lost Jenny. She was the glue. She’s what kept it together.

LAUREN GRAY: She is. I can’t even tell if we’re still live.

JACOB FELTNER: Yeah, I don’t know. Andrew just waved at us. So–


JACOB FELTNER: –potentially.

LAUREN GRAY: So that might mean we’re still here. We don’t know where Jenny is.


LAUREN GRAY: Jacob, should I introduce you? I’ve got your–

JACOB FELTNER: Dude, that’d be awesome.

LAUREN GRAY: –info here. Great. Well, I’m here with Jacob Feltner. He is a Support Engineering Manager at Mediavine, as well as a husband and dog dad. He’s an expert in all things Mediavine ads, more specifically what plays nicely with them and what breaks them.

He spends his day trying to make publishers all the dollars and his nights adding to his knowledge as a movie buff and all around info junkie. Welcome Jacob to this Facebook Live.

JACOB FELTNER: Thank you Lauren. This is– it was a good recovery, very good recovery. We’re doing great.

JENNY GUY: That was super new.

JACOB FELTNER: Ooh, there she is.

JENNY GUY: I am– my computer legit went black screen for no reason.

LAUREN GRAY: Well, we made the best of it.

JENNY GUY: I’m sure you guys were brilliant. And I’m sorry that I had to come back and wreck whatever awesome conversation flow you had happening just now. But I am here, hello.

JACOB FELTNER: It was perfect timing.

JENNY GUY: And I apologize for that. I was about to introduce our amazing intrepid Jacob Feltner, who is our support engineering manager at Mediavine. He is also a husband and a dog dad.

JACOB FELTNER: Let’s do it again. Let’s do it again. Let’s do it again.

JENNY GUY: He’s an expert– I’m so sorry.

LAUREN GRAY: I did technically read his bio out for you.

JACOB FELTNER: You know, Lauren actually already did that but if you want to do it again–

JENNY GUY: Oh, you read his bio.


JENNY GUY: Oh my gosh. Awesome. Girl, you don’t need me.

LAUREN GRAY: Couldn’t have him not having an intro here.

JENNY GUY: I don’t even need to be here. This is awesome. OK. So I’m glad– I just got all the comments that I’m reading all the things. We’re so glad you’re here. OK. Let’s talk about– let’s dispense with the formalities. We’re going to be doing some fun stuff here where we ask a good audience interactive question.

So the one we’re going to start with is just a pretty simple one, which is how is your site speed right now? Post your late– your last mobile score in GPSI in the comments, if you dare. And then any other questions you have for Jacob or Lauren, please feel free to post in the comments. We will be talking about all the things.

So to start out with, let’s kick off with telling me a little bit about yourselves and why I’ve asked you– why you think I’ve asked you to share your expertise on this particular episode of Tale Talk– Teal Talk, other than the fact that you’re lovely humans. I love hanging out with you and spending time with you. So Lauren, will you start for me please?

LAUREN GRAY: Yeah, absolutely. I’m Lauren with Once Coupled, as my bio originally introduced me. I just love working one-on-one with clients, personally. I really like getting to build relationships with my clients. I’m personally very intrigued by complex problems.

So I love bigger projects where we get to solve stuff and a big part of that has been site speed. And I’m personally a perfectionist. So as high as we can get your scores, with as much compromise on functionality as possible, really what drives me. And I don’t know, kind of what I like to do in my day-to-day.

I’ve got a team of another three to developers, depending on the projects, that work with me. And they are experts– their expertise is either in custom themes or in site speed. And we’ve done a ton of site speed projects. I mean, all of my custom themes focus on that.

But Eric, a couple of years was like, site speed’s going to be big. Get into site speed now. And when Eric tells you to do something, you better do it. So we started doing site speed. And it did become a big trend. And I’m so excited there’s so many other– because it became such a big trend, so many solutions have been put out to help everyone do better with their site speed.

So we’ve done a lot of audits and a lot of work with clients. And we love to see that clients have come, not even just clients but through blogs in general have come so far.

JENNY GUY: I mean, there’s so many things there. But it’s so wonderful to hear that people outside of those that he is paying are– do the thing that we do, which is when Eric said something we do it. It’s good to know, good to know. We– yes, I don’t live in a world, I’ve never lived in a world where speed was not a thing.

It just is, the need for speed Hochberger lives that life. OK, Jacob, same to you. Tell me what you do on– on the daily, and why I invited you to be here, other than your delightful beard.

JACOB FELTNER: Oh boy, well, yeah. I joined Mediavine just under two years ago. And I came with a background in web development for a couple of years. And that was my initial, kind of, professional goal in life. But, you know, I’ve always loved helping people.

I’ve had a job since I was about 15. And the vast majority of those jobs were about helping people in some way, shape, or form, you know, directly connecting with people and helping them out. It’s always something I’ve enjoyed, that I’ve had a passion for.

And this opportunity came my way. And with the time that I’ve been with the company, I have become pretty familiar with not only our technologies, our plugins, our script, all the fun tech. I’ve also seen how it interacts with the myriad of possibilities, whether it be other plugins, other themes, just every situation imaginable, how it interacts, how it can affect site speed, how it can affect ad performance, you know, all those fun things.

And typically when it comes to people thinking, you know, oh, my site speed’s gone down because I’ve done this. It usually ends up in my lap or my department’s lap, and same if, you know, something changes and the ads go bad, or it’s not performing as well. So get to troubleshoot the Wild West of the world wide web.



JENNY GUY: That is an–

JACOB FELTNER: That just came to me.

JENNY GUY: –awesome tag line. Holy cannoli. That– you’re flowing. I’m not going to stop you. And marketing team, brand team be writing this stuff down. We’re hitting gold. OK. So we have– we’ve got some brave folks who are sharing their site speed scores with us.

We have, let’s see, we have Andrew Eaton said, 44 mobile, 94 desktop. Janice Luke Smith said, 64 on mobile, 97 on desktop. And Mary Elizabeth, I think it’s Woita, said “63 on mobile and 92 on desktop.”

And then just for another comment that caused both Lauren and I to smile while you were talking. I think that’s what she was smiling at. YoriNo said, “who is this delightfully bearded man? I need his digits.”


JENNY GUY: So you’ve already got people watching that are asking for your phone number so.

JACOB FELTNER: She said she was going to do that.

JENNY GUY: And should we tell them who she is? Or just let everyone know that you’re the stud that you are?

JACOB FELTNER: Oh, that’s my lovely wife.

JENNY GUY: All right, well.

JACOB FELTNER: That’s my lovely wife, partner in crime.

JENNY GUY: I was going to let it ride with just the fans asking for your digits. Because–

JACOB FELTNER: No, no, nobody needs my phone number.

JENNY GUY: Well, I have it. But I work with you.

JACOB FELTNER: Oh, Oh, OK. All right.

JENNY GUY: So OK, Fay Osborne said, “56, 93.” And she has a sad face with that one. OK. So what– let’s talk a little bit about what are some of the most common site speed issues that you’re coming across, Lauren, and how can we fix them.

We’ll start with Lauren. And then Jacob will kind of take that from an ad perspective. But let’s start with speed. What are some of those most common things we’re seeing?

LAUREN GRAY: I mean, the biggest thing that we always see is images. There’s always more that can be done with images. At the simplest form, you can turn on lazy loading for images. And that can make a big impact on your speed scores and how quickly your site can load initially.

It’s kind of like a– I don’t know, it’s kind of like putting a blanket over a problem. Because if you’re not actually optimizing your images, you’re just kind of ignoring it. And it looks a little better and things are feeling better. But there’s always more that can be done with your images.

So ShortPixel is a good optimization tool. There’s a whole bunch of them. ShortPixel is just the one that I used, I did a bunch of tests with a few years ago. Who knows if it’s still the best now, but it’s the one that I typically refer to. But ShortPixel can compress your images. If you’re inserting really large images and you can insert smaller ones, that makes a big difference.

Andrew Wilder from NerdPress has talked about– I don’t know if it was on the talk here, but has talked about how because images are you– if you– I don’t know how to do this math. I should not talk about math. The larger–

JENNY GUY: I love talking about math, my favorite.

LAUREN GRAY: I don’t believe you. You’ve said–

JENNY GUY: It’s a lie.

LAUREN GRAY: –a lot of things now, beforehand, that now I know not to believe anything you say.


LAUREN GRAY: But essentially, if you multiply width times height, you get a larger number if it’s two times the square– OK, you know what? I can’t do math. Let’s not talk about it. Exactly, the image size is twice as large, but it will be four times larger in file size.

I’m sorry I sent us down that rabbit hole. But what I’m trying to say is that a smaller image is better. Compressing images with ShortPixel is better. Lazy loading is better. We see huge gains. That’s always the first thing we work on with clients is images. So–

JENNY GUY: So size does matter, period, definitively. Size matters. And size mat– smaller is better. And you heard it here. So that’s just the way it is. OK. So we had a question. But then I want to go to– we’re getting a ton of questions. OK.

Wiktar says, “hi, what’s more important, a better score at PageSpeed Insights or the actual speed of site measured with Pingdom?” So for example, I get a score on PageSpeed Insights. I can see it by eye or by measuring that website is actually slower.

We’re going to talk a little bit about where’s the– from what I’m gathering, Wiktar, is that you’re asking where is the best place to measure page speed. And we actually have a question about that. But Jacob, tell them where we like to measure page speed please.

JACOB FELTNER: It’s primarily Google PageSpeed Insights. The best thing about that is it’s basically hitting two of the most important groups of people that can impact a website, which are the readers and Google themselves. These are the metrics that Google likes, that they want people to judge against.

So you always want to make Google happy. But it’s also a way of better replicating the user experience. Because a lot of other site speed tools, they kind of wait for literally everything to load, including the ads, which can kind of skew the scores a little bit to make it seem drastically worse than what it is. Because all of our ads are lazy loaded.

So when a user experiences it, when they go to the site, you know, they’re seeing it as they see it, as they scroll, as it comes into view. Whereas some other site speed tools, they don’t view it the same way. So overall, start with GPSI. You’ll be in good shape.

JENNY GUY: I mean, exactly, yeah. No user cares what’s loading on the bottom of your site when they’re visiting your site. I’m not scrolling to the bottom and being slow, I don’t not like this site. That’s not something I do. I don’t check the bottom of a website when I’m trying to get something to load on my phone.

So it’s measuring what a user actually does. Lauren, do you have any thoughts to add to that on Pingdom or anything?

LAUREN GRAY: Yeah, I mean, I think it’s interesting, because a lot of those other tools will take into account those ads, like Jacob was saying. So there can be variation based on how optimized an ad campaign that’s being tested is. So you’ll see larger amount of variations.

We get a lot of questions from clients that are asking why Search Console or Google Analytics is telling them that a site, that a page on their site is suddenly loading much slower. And , I can’t tell you why because I’m not testing it with ads.

So if you haven’t done anything different on that site, it’s probably not that the page is loading any different. It’s probably at that different ad is being tested. And we don’t really see the impact of those ads. Because we’re using PageSpeed Insights, and it doesn’t use those. It doesn’t analyze those. And also because of the changes that they made to ads to make them more user friendly.

But I know beforehand, before Google PageSpeed Insights changed six times and got updates every month to make our lives harder–

JENNY GUY: Lighthouse.

LAUREN GRAY: I used to email Mediavine regularly. Because I would see an unoptimized campaign that would be crazy pulling scores down. And I think that those could be factors. And I know Mediavine is always working, if they see those campaigns, to reach out and ask them to optimize this. Don’t try and upload a giant image, et cetera.

But, you know, that’s a factor, too. It’s like you’ll see those warnings. But you can’t just take them at face value. You’ve got to be monitoring those scores on your own, looking at your site, and– one other thing I want to mention, based on this question, was kind of, they were asking if they should be looking at their own site and kind of seeing how it feels to them.

And I think that that’s a little difficult. Because throughout the world and throughout the different internet connections and whatnot, if you’re looking at your site at a really good– if you have a good internet connection and you’re looking at your site, it’s going to load really quickly. But you’ve got to consider people that are on mobile devices and things like that.

And as much as possible, optimize for those connections that they don’t have the same resources. And that’s part of what PageSpeed Insights does, too, is they have throttled connections. So they’ll tell you your site is slower than you’re seeing it. Because they’re throttling that connection to something that they find to be more of an average user.

JENNY GUY: Right. That’s a lot designing your site or create writing content based on a desktop, when most of your readers are doing it on mobile. You’ve got to think about what the experience that your reader is having, as opposed to the experience that you’re having when you’re sitting at your laptop or desktop doing the creating.

Jacob, you mentioned lazy loading. And I know that we have 800,000 blog posts, help docs, various things about it. But I think that it’s possible that there are some of our audience who do not know what you’re talking about and why it matters. And I think that there are also some people who think that that is the norm, that all ad companies use lazy loading for their ads.

So why does it matter? What does it mean? Why is it good to be lazy?

JACOB FELTNER: Well, it’s great to be lazy. But it’s primarily, you know, it’s the whole idea of if you just let everything on a site load at once, it’s going to take much, much longer than it needs. And all of that content, you know, people are going to be seeing a fraction of your website at any given time. So you might as well just be giving it to them piece by piece.

You don’t need to do that with a lot of other things, like text and stuff like that, but with images and especially with ads. You know, since ads can be relatively heavy compared to everything else, you know, you only want to deal with it when it’s necessary, when it’s within view, when it needs to be on the eyeballs of people.

And so it’s crucial. It’s absolutely crucial. Because, you know, you have a nice beautiful website with amazing content. And things are coming in to intrude on your space and give you money. And we want them to be as friendly as possible. We don’t want there to be a true give and take.

You shouldn’t have to sacrifice user experience just to make a little bit of money or a lot of money. So doing lazy loading is just getting closer to the world where you can have your cake and eat it too. It makes the most sense.

It’s the modern, kind of, approach to web. It’s kind of crazy to not have ads that are lazy loaded. It just makes all the sense in the world. It’s best for everyone involved.

JENNY GUY: And I know that when you are– so the story of Mediavine and why we have lazy loaded ads, and we were the pioneers on that technology for advertising. And the reason why we did it was because we built– when we designed the ads, when Eric designed ads, he built them for our own sites.

Meaning he knew that if he put on ads that tanked page speed and killed user experience, we would lose all the traffic that we were attempting to monetize. So there would be no purpose. There would– playing the short game was never for us, because we were putting it on our own site.

So we would have– we’re eating our own dog food, that disgusting developer term that Eric says every time he comes on to talk about a new plugin. He’s like, we have to eat our own dog food. I’m like, I don’t need you to say that.


JENNY GUY: We need a– that’s not. But that’s why. It’s because we knew that playing a short game and making our viewers say, I don’t want to be here anymore. There’s no point. OK. We had a– Ben Heath said Squoosh apps. S-Q-U-O-O-S-H dot app, have you guys heard? He said it’s from Google Chrome Developers. He said it’s awesome. It sounds for images, I’m guessing.

LAUREN GRAY: I have not personally heard of that.

JENNY GUY: Haven’t heard of it.

LAUREN GRAY: I don’t know, if it integrates WordPress, then I’m generally a fan, as long as you can easily revert your images. So ideally I recommend clients to take the extra time, it’s not even time. It’s really just a little bit of money to save their original size images on their site, on their server, so they can always revert if they want.

That way if they ever decide they need a higher quality or larger size in the future, then they can always revert those images and recompress for whatever reason. Generally, if you’re compressing images beforehand and then uploading them to WordPress, it’s generating thumbnails from those, and they’re OK.

I like ShortPixel, they are plugins that integrate with WordPress. Because once those thumbnails are generated, it will also tend to compress those. So those images are auto-created by WordPress. WordPress, kind of, sort of, limits image quality to reduce file size.

But you can save, you know, you can get a better file size if you also have an app that’s compressing the thumbnails that are generated from the original that you’ve uploaded. And most sites have 10 or more thumbnails that are being generated by their theme, or plugins, or whatnot, being used throughout the site.

JENNY GUY: Fantastic. OK. No, that’s really helpful. Then he says, it’s for optimizing images. But there is no plugin for WordPress currently. We have a question from Luke Ward, who is asking if ZergNet ads are lazy loaded, too. Chico.

JACOB FELTNER: That is a good question. I honestly don’t know. ZergNet is a pretty rare thing that comes across us. I know someone asked about it not too long ago, so I could probably just do a quick search. But honestly, I don’t know.

JENNY GUY: Well, Eric is lurking. He might know. He’s commenting in the comments. And he thinks your new project– he is always lurking. I can feel him like a presence in the ether. He said, you need to coin a new term for eating your own dog food. So that is your new assignment.


JENNY GUY: And then if you coin in and come up with something as good as the last one you just said, the Wild West on the world wide web, then we can ingrain it into him. And I don’t have to hear that again. So please get on that. Thank you.

JACOB FELTNER: Fair enough.

JENNY GUY: OK. So we kind of started to go down this trail a little bit. But when we’re talking about testing for page speed, we talked about why we should use Google PageSpeed Insights as a starting point to test. What are– what exactly are we testing?

When we’re– when we’re going to get a good overall thermometer, take the temperature of our site and figure out how site speed is, what are we testing? What exactly? Lauren, will you start with that please?

LAUREN GRAY: I don’t know what you’re asking. What do you mean what are we testing? We’re testing your site speed.

JENNY GUY: So I think that a lot of people– what I’m trying to give– to get you to– Jacob, do you know what I’m trying to get her to say?

JACOB FELTNER: Yeah, I mean, it’s basically, you know, it’s measuring– I think I know what you’re saying. It’s measuring pretty much every user experience. It’s not just taking desktop into account. It’s taking mobile into account. It’s testing different kind of experiences, whether it be with throttled speed or not. Is that what you’re getting at?

JENNY GUY: Partially. But I’m also just getting at, you can’t just test your home page through your page speed. You need to go into your popular poll. A lot of times I’ll have people that are like, my speed is rockin’. It’s bangin’, lightning fast. You’re like, it’s your home page. And no one is there.

So you need to check– check your most– I think checking your most popular posts would probably be smart. That’s what I would say. But I’ll leave it to the experts.

JACOB FELTNER: Yeah. It definitely makes a lot of sense. I mean, usually a lot of people’s home pages are going to be fancier than their blog posts, probably a little more intense. So they might have things on there that they don’t have anywhere else, larger image sizes, who knows, maybe some fancy animation and whatnot.

But if you’re getting a lot of traffic to your home page, take it into consideration. But really, I think simplifying your site overall, even the home page is worth doing. You know, people– you’re making great content. That’s why people are coming to your site. That’s why they typically stay on your site, not because you have a fancy slider on your homepage. Because that will just kill speed.

JENNY GUY: They’re not just there for my slider.

JACOB FELTNER: I know, right.



JENNY GUY: Dropping knowledge bombs.

JACOB FELTNER: But yeah, definitely– definitely focus, you know, if you don’t know where to start, in terms of which exact spot on my site do I test, start with your most popular post and just kind of build out from there.

JENNY GUY: So you are saying, simplify. I think that would be a really great– quote from Eric Hochburger, ZergNet is not lazy loaded, according to him. So that’s–

JACOB FELTNER: There you go.

JENNY GUY: There you have the answer. So when you say getting started, I know we talked about images would be– is there any other place to get our teeth into on our sites to start, Jacob, where you would recommend starting with page speed?

JACOB FELTNER: Yeah, I mean, it’s, you know, it’s a big thing. That’s why we’re– that’s why we’re here. That’s why we’re talking about it. But I think another thing, especially as it relates to our ads, is probably asset optimization, script deferment, CSS deferment, stuff like that.

Which is basically just a fancy way of saying, shrinking the size of the scripts that are loading on your site. Or basically telling them, you know, let your page load before the script has had time to fully load. You know, you don’t want anything blocking your script or your site from actually loading. You don’t want to wait on a specific script to load.

Because sometimes that can just completely destroy a user experience, because all they see is a blank screen. But if you look in the network tab of DevTools, I’m using fancy words right now. But you’ll see something is just taking forever to load. And that’s just because it isn’t being deferred.

But the big thing to keep in mind with that is, while it is important, the asset optimization, the minification, the shrinking of these scripts will, and often does, impact, whether it be– it could potentially affect our ad script. It could affect grow or create. It could alter it in some way.

So while you do want to do that, you know, like with anything that’s pretty powerful, and it’s going to make your site quicker. And it’s going to affect other things functionality. And you have no kind of insight into it. You know, just tread softly. You know, turn it on, test all the functionality on your site.

Make sure ads are loading properly. Make sure your create a card looks good. Make sure your opt-in forms are behaving properly. Because you just never know what’s going to happen when everything is kind of smashed together and shrunk.

And you want to plugin that gives you leeway, that gives you access to say, OK, don’t touch Mediavine stuff, or don’t touch jQuery. Because a lot of things are dependent on jQuery and if it doesn’t load in a certain way, it’ll cause things to go hooey.

So just anytime you get into that world, don’t be afraid of it, just be logical about it. Be kind of clinical about it, step by step. If something doesn’t go right, there are ways to make it better, if you have a good plugin. By excluding it from being optimized, and you still get the benefit of shrinking everything else.

It’s just a lot of plugins are really good about telling you that upfront. If you turn this on, this could break something, you know, tread softly. But they’re not always that nice.

JENNY GUY: Speaking of plugins, let’s segue. Actually no, I wanted to grab one more quick question from our audience. OK. Amelia Meier says, question for you, my team is pumping out awesome content. Good to know. We are using Pinterest and SEO best practices. My site speed is fast.

My question is, my blog is eight years old. I deleted hundreds. And I’m slowly going through the rest of them. But what do I focus on as far as updating them, tags, photos, length? Could old content still be, quote, weighing down my site? And as I am making these changes, how long do I wait before I should see a big difference, a couple of months, a year?

Who wants to take it? Who wants to jump in? Lauren, you got it?

LAUREN GRAY: I mean, I would say that old– like delete– are we talking about deleting old posts?

JENNY GUY: I believe that’s what she’s referring to. She’s saying she’s got an eight-year-old blog. She has deleted some old posts.

LAUREN GRAY: And she deleted–

JENNY GUY: And we actually have a question about that further down. Because it’s a hot topic always when people have been blogging for a long time and had a lot of content they may not be as proud of in the past. Right.


JENNY GUY: So what do we– I mean, the dark photos of the food that you took. You know– you know, it’s OK. We all have things that we’re– like I look at some of my middle school ensemble choices and I’m appalled. So do you– do you– Lauren, can you talk to that a little bit?

LAUREN GRAY: Yeah, I mean deleting posts is– your site speed is going to be like independent on every individual page. So like every page has its own speed. And if we’re saying that Google is considering that page speed, it’s only considering it per that page. So if you’re deleting old posts, then it’s not going to hurt or improve the page speed of other pages on your site.

Like removing old content, in terms of updating old posts and inserting smaller resized images, or basically deleting old embeds that might be in there that you don’t really need anymore, like a lot of people used to embed the Pinterest widget for their, like to follow them. And like that’d be in all their old posts.

Well, if you don’t need that and you go back and you remove it, that’d be great. But I don’t think deleting old posts is really going to be helpful. And there are some cases where like cleaning up your database, like getting a smaller database, would be helpful. But usually deleting old posts is not going to be the impactful way to do that.

Like just removing some posts isn’t going to make a huge difference. Like we’re– my team is literally working on the database of one client. We’ve gotten her down from 8 gigabytes to 3.5. And it’s not because we’re deleting old posts. It’s because there’s plugins that are being used, like Thrive Leads was huge.

Because it records like every action that people– every time something pops up on your site, whether people do or don’t opt into it to generate statistics for you. And as far as we could tell, there was no way to turn that off. So like we dropped that table and deleted that plug-in.

There was one other. Oh, she was running contests through Gravity Forms. So she had– if she had 10 contests running at a time, and they each had 70,000 entries in them, there were a ton of roads in her database related to that, old plugins, stuff like that that were really increasing the size of her database.

So on older sites, we’re more likely to see something where either plugins you’re not using anymore, or just like plugins that are adding a lot of data you probably don’t need could be increasing your database size. But I wouldn’t say that deleting old posts is going to be impactful for speed.

JENNY GUY: Very helpful. Jacob, do you have anything to add to that, based on that question?

JACOB FELTNER: No, no that really well covered it. It’s kind of adjacent to making sure your database isn’t bloated or out of control. But really the posts in and of themselves, removing them probably won’t do too much. But it could, you know, leave a trail of breadcrumbs to something you should be doing.

JENNY GUY: Fantastic. OK. A question from– this may be a comment. I don’t know if anyone– either one of you has anything to say. Andrew said, when I click defer render blocking JavaScript in SG optimizer, it breaks the ability to leave a star review on WP Recipe Maker.

JACOB FELTNER: I mean, that’s definitely possible. You know deferring– you know, it– there’s just– sometimes it works great. Sometimes it doesn’t. So really, as long as SG optimizer has a way of excluding individual scripts, there is likely a way to resolve that conflict.

I don’t know exactly where the conflict is. But, you know, there is an avenue of fixing it. It’s not unfixable, potentially.

LAUREN GRAY: I mean, I haven’t seen it with a lot of other plugins, that same issue. So I’d say, well, I don’t want to get too technical. But there’s probably something in the configuration, like Jacob’s saying, that could be adjusted. Or that plugin isn’t taking into account that another plugin might.

So like if it’s deferring jQuery but not deferring the WP Recipe Maker script, then that– yeah, that was the technical stuff I was trying to avoid. I apologize.

JENNY GUY: No, it’s good. It’s helpful. And we’re having questions on it. So you guys can– you guys are rock stars and know those answers, so it’s very helpful to have. OK. So audience participation question number two, true or false, it is bad to have a lot of plugins. True or false, it is bad to have a lot of plugins.

There is no wrong answer, except there is a wrong answer. And you will be judged for it. So we’re going to talk about plug-ins now. Because when we talk about spring cleaning and removing weighty things on our site, Amelia, who was asking the question a moment ago about deleting old posts, said she went from a hobby blog to a business and deleted a lot of old, old stuff that was not relevant.

Understandable, I will say that I’m going to guess that they probably weren’t prominent those– the old posts weren’t prominently displayed on your home page or easy for people to find. So if they are still getting traffic, they’re probably not hurting anything other than your own personal aesthetic, knowing that they exist and are ruining your flow or your feng shui on your site.

But I do understand that. OK. Question on plugins, so what– are there some that are just consistently causing problems in your guys’ world? When you look at a site and you see a problem, are there some that are just consistently like, oh, that is always a thing? Jacob, we’ll start with you. Because you get to deal with these things a lot.

JACOB FELTNER: Sure. I mean, it’s a big question. But I think anything that is basically running services in the background, that you have no kind of direct input over, like something that is just constantly running and checking and running a lot of database queries, saving a lot of database records, something like a broken link checker or something like that, just anything that is just persistently running in the background that you honestly don’t really need to run, you know, there’s always different ways of approaching the solution.

But typically the ones that take up a lot of space are ones that are just consistently running. And sometimes you can just run it for a little bit, get your information, and deactivate it. Get on with your life. Use the information that you get– that you’ve gotten. But anything that just kind of lingers in the background and does stuff, it usually has the potential of really slowing your site down.

JENNY GUY: And how would I identify that?

JACOB FELTNER: That’s the tricky part, right?

JENNY GUY: Oh, yeah.

LAUREN GRAY: You know, sometimes it’s just using kind of good sense, kind of logic to look at it and be like, OK, what is this thing trying to do, and how is it accomplishing it? Is it because it’s just magic and it’s just happening in the background? Or am I telling it to do something?

You know, and if it’s logging a lot of redirects, per se. Like one prominent issue that we warn about in one of our health pages is some sites that have redirection plugins, that log every time someone gets redirected, but they don’t have the ability to only do it on kind of internal links.

And so, you know, our ads are doing stuff in the background that sometimes do involve redirects or 404 errors. It doesn’t impact anything. It doesn’t hurt anything. But each one of those is being logged. And it’ll log. And it’ll log. And it’ll log. And it’ll log. And it’s just– it is too much.

So that’s another thing to keep an eye out for. If your redirection plug-in, like as long as you have a way to kind of target specific kind of 404 errors or specific posts where you’re wanting to monitor the redirection, those are great. But if it’s just an all encompassing plug-in that just catches anything and everything, that’ll definitely slow things down for you.

JENNY GUY: Awesome. Great feedback. OK. Same with question to you, Lauren. Are there any perpetual offenders that you’re seeing or things to look out for?

LAUREN GRAY: Um, those are really good ones Jacob. I just want to say that. Because those are really hard ones to identify.

JACOB FELTNER: They are, yeah.

LAUREN GRAY: So that’s a good one to call out by name. I’d say, with us, I don’t see any as problematic. Google’s being a little more forgiving with some types of features that we see a lot, like sliders. Those plugins we try and recommend against. We try and say, like, here’s the compromise that you’re making to have this sort of experience that you want for your users or this visual. Here’s the impact it’s going to have on speed.

Usually it’s not too big of an impact anymore. It used to be like it would crazy drag your scores down. Now that could be the one compromise you make on your site. But like sliders is something, pop-ups. So a lot of external scripts, like your convert kit, and I’m not saying to remove this.

But your convert kit pop-up, like it uses a JavaScript call reference that is pulling that up. And you’re usually going to see that, because it’s an external script. So you don’t have control over optimizing it. You’re going to see it in your PageSpeed Insights, your Waterfall analysis, anything like that. Again, it’s not a huge impact.

So the benefit, I think, outweighs the impact that’s there. But that’s the sort of stuff that we are generally regularly talking to clients about is like, where do you want to make these compromises? Do you need something similar to sliders? Is there’s like the tab. There’s like– I see this a lot. It goes up and down in trend.

But it’s like, there’s like three tabs at the top. And you can switch between recent posts and those like three categories. That’s based on JavaScript, sliders are JavaScript, pop-ups are JavaScript. Hotjar is something we see clients use a lot. It’s JavaScript. And it’s– like Hotjar is something I would definitely say only use it while you’re using it. Don’t just let it run in the background forever.

But anything JavaScript based, which if you’re pasting in code that ends with dot JS, that is JavaScript. And it’s going to have an impact on your site. And a lot of functionality is, unfortunately, JavaScript based. So if you can be plain, plain is cool.

JENNY GUY: Plain Jane. OK. We actually, in talking about sliders, which we’re referencing a lot. I’ve heard tell that potentially our WordPress framework Trellis might have that option to include some really righteous sliders that won’t drag your site speed down. Jacob, is there anything you can share on that?

JACOB FELTNER: I actually haven’t seen it in action. One of my teammates, Matt Howe, is really spearheading that charge and starting the onboarding process for the people in beta. But like with everything that Mediavine tries to solve, it is with page speed in mind.

And particularly with this theme, it is the pride and joy of so many engineers in our company. And we don’t want to give people the most boring web site in the world just to fulfill the promise of site speed. So some of these things that have always given people a headache in the past, that’s kind of our goal.

Recipe cards gave people a headache. Social share gave people a headache. Themes gave people a headache. And, you know, we’re going to address it with the slider.

JENNY GUY: We’re trying to create a unicorn for you. So we know it’s taking a while, but that’s our goal. And then I also know that a lot of the things we’re talking about that are causing some of the page being slow with a convert kit, I know that there are plans to develop in that way as well, to solve the email– email equation.

So that’s happening, too, just so– just so everyone knows. OK. Amelia said, if we have old Gleam widgets for giveaways, is it worth it to get rid of those? And should she stay away from Thrive Leads? Follow-up question on that is, can tons of comments on a blog post be slowing it down?

LAUREN GRAY: Those are three questions.

JENNY GUY: Yep. So let’s start with the first one, Gleam widgets for giveaways, is it worth it to get rid of, yes or no? Lauren.

LAUREN GRAY: Are those posts ranking? Does it matter? Do you want the page speed– I mean, yes. If you want your page speed to improve, those widgets are loading JavaScript that you don’t necessarily need anymore, because no one can enter those. But unless those posts are ranking, which might depend on where you tend to insert your giveaways, I’m not sure it’d be worth it or not.


LAUREN GRAY: It will improve your score, may or may not be worth your time though.

JENNY GUY: Thrive Leads, opinions on those. Jacob.

JACOB FELTNER: Thrive Leads, the only thing that’s jumping out to me with that is that this is a kind of a side point to make. But only because I only have– I have ad performance on my mind.

JENNY GUY: And we’re about to get into it like whoa.

JACOB FELTNER: No, it’s more, there’s one particular Thrive Leads option where it doesn’t in line form, which basically places the form in the content. And what that will do is actually nest all of your content into an additional div, which can kind of essentially hide all of your content from our script.

So our script will just see one big fat div, and it won’t see all of your content. So if you run Thrive Leads and you’re like, wait a second, why did my in content score suddenly fall off a cliff? Why am I only seeing one in content ad now, at the very, very bottom? That is because of that.

Very fixable. We’ll make the adjustment. But if you then walk that back, you’d have to come back to us. And we’d have to readjust it. But yeah, when it comes to whether you should remove it or not, I mean sometimes you just have to take a hard look at it and figure out, are people actually using this. Is it, you know, greatly benefiting, you know, the goals for my site.

And what is the kind of sacrifice that I’m making in terms of site speed. Disabled it, see what your scores are, compare, contrast and just make a value judgment. That’s not the most glamorous answer. But, you know, a lot of it does come down to what makes the most sense for you.

JENNY GUY: And we can’t make that determination for you. We can just let you know what the options are and give you the data. And you fly– fly from the nest with your data. OK. Then finally, I don’t– whichever one of you wants to jump in with this one. But can tons of comments on a blog post be slowing it down?




JACOB FELTNER: I’m sorry, go. Go ahead.

LAUREN GRAY: You can go. You can address it if you want.

JACOB FELTNER: OK. Yeah, it’s just, I think the big concern with that is probably just how many database queries are going out and if it’s well optimized. I mean, I don’t know how much of an impact it would really have, because I haven’t really dug into that too much. But there are ways to see how much a given plug-in or a given thing is setting out database queries.

And if it’s pretty extravagant, it can definitely slow down your site. That’s kind of related to– related to post plug-ins as well. Those can sometimes send out a lot of unnecessary queries and slow down your site in a way that you may not really anticipate. Because you look at a related post, and it’s just three things.

You look at comments. It’s just plain text. Why would it be slowing things down? But depending on the implementation, it definitely could.

JENNY GUY: Luke Word is actually jumping in and saying that there is a great basic plug-in for lazy loading comments. It’s actually called, aptly, lazy load for comments by Joel James. They really spent a lot of time on that title. But that is– there’s that.

And then Rose, who is one of our publisher support, she said, if you have Gravatar enabled, more comments can slow things down more because of the images. Jacob, will you talk about Gravatar real quick? Oh, he just ate a groan. Tell us about the Gravatar groan you just let out.

JACOB FELTNER: Oh, no, no. I just remember what Gravatar does. I mean, it’s just– it’s adding a lot of unnecessariness, basically–


JACOB FELTNER: –to the comments. Yeah, it’s just– it’s just extra. It’s one of those things, it– it feels like a bell and a whistle. But really it just– it’s adding unnecessary load. So definitely don’t use Gravatars. Plain text is great. People will still be engaged. They don’t need to be represented by an icon or an avatar.

JENNY GUY: You also can’t really see them. So it’s not–


JENNY GUY: You’re squinting at those little tiny round picture. Like it’s not– it’s not necessary.


JENNY GUY: Also Heather, our publisher– Director of Publisher Support just said, Trellis lazy loads comments so, just saying.

JACOB FELTNER: Like I said, there’s a solution. They’ve got a solution for everything.

JENNY GUY: There’s a solution. So Lauren, what are the features of a, quote, good plug-in? What– if you’re shopping for plug-ins or you need– you know you a need, and you’re going through the WordPress repository, what are some of the things you should look at, that earmark something that is– could– we can’t have every eventuality but giving us, in general, rules.

LAUREN GRAY: Yeah, generally you’re looking for a plugin that’s been updated recently. I wouldn’t say that’s always the case. But in most circumstances at least, especially for functionality that’s happening on your front end, or something that’s maybe more like trending, you want something that’s had an update recently.

So recent updates, I’d say responsive support. Or like some indication that the person that’s writing the plugin cares about anyone else other than themselves. Because plenty of people write plugins that they need. And then if it doesn’t work for other people, you’re out of luck. You don’t want to be in that situation, if you’ve heavily relied on a plugin.

So you can, in the WordPress repository, you can look through like, there’s a reviews tab and there’s a support tab. And there’s just a lot of people giving feedback in there. And I’d say that’s really, really representative of where the current status of the plug-in. Because people will definitely share their opinion in there. They won’t be shy about that.

And then personally as a developer, I like to look for documentation on a plugin. I wouldn’t say that it’s like really a requirement. Like you can have good plugins without documentation. But plugins with documentation, so there’s a long description. There’s images at the bottom. There’s like question and answers.

You’d go to an external site, and it’s got a whole page on how-to. They’ve got hooks and filters, if you want to get a little nerdy, that sort of stuff. If you see that, and they’re writing it out, it generally means they’ve got a longer term plan or like a more, like a stronger foundation that they’re writing that plugin on when they’re thinking about it at the beginning.

So I would say those are something when I see, I’m like, OK, this person is taking this seriously. This is higher on my list. But that’s a developer thing. I get it.

JENNY GUY: Jacob, anything to add to that?

JACOB FELTNER: Yeah, this is a little more advanced. So if you want to dig into it, the opportunity is there. If you’re looking at a site, you can right click kind of in the margins of your site and view the page source, view the kind of raw code on your site, the HTML and everything.

And from there, you can see if a plugin is only applying scripts and loading things when it actually needs to. One of the things in particular about Create is that Create won’t load its JavaScript or its CSS or anything. It won’t reference it in the background. It won’t even be loaded unless there’s actually a card on the post or a list.

So, you know, it’s nice when plugins don’t try to just apply itself everywhere, unless it actually has to. Something a little more intelligent, smart about how it uses itself.

JENNY GUY: Love that. Great advice. OK. We just shared– yeah, Jacob, get it. We just shared a great blog post that Lauren did for us about how to do a plug-in self-audit. It’s a great post. it gives you step-by-step what to look for, what to make notes on, how to diagram your thoughts and put it all on paper or however you want to do it, Google doc, whatever, whatever floats your boat.

But to put everything out so you can see it in black and white and really make a plan, then, of attack on how to get that plugin, get out the things that are just bloat on your site. Jacob, question for you. I know that there– we already talked a little bit about how Thrive Leads can play nasty with Mediavine, our ad script.

What– do we have any other ones that are conflicts that can cause some tricksy trouble on the back end of your site if you install?

JACOB FELTNER: Mm-hmm. I mean a great place check is definitely our help pages, you know, conflicts. There’s a particular– there’s a Mailchimp pop-up that causes issues. But it really all comes down to– there’s also a Rocket loader from Cloudflare that we’ve seen have issues in the past.

It’s really just anything that promises to make things optimized or faster that affects JavaScript, particularly as it relates to ad performance. You also want to watch out for CSS as well, if say your grow buttons are displaying weird, or not clicking or doing things properly, or create looks really messed up.

It might be because either one or both the JavaScript and CSS are getting optimized. So really just keep an eye out for anything that promises that. And if it doesn’t offer an option or a common sense option or an easy option to kind of exclude specific things from it, then try a different one. There’s a lot of different options out there.

Some of them are great. Some of them are less great. But really, you just want something that is– that you have a lot of control over and that you have a lot of insight into. Even if you don’t have direct control over it, you know, just shoot us an email, we’ll take a look for you. We’ll tell you.

JENNY GUY: Always, they’re honest. They’re painfully honest. They’re going to tell you. They’re going to tell you what’s up. So outside of plugins, what are some– and this is unfortunately you guys, and I know I was gone for like probably 60 seconds, the longest 60 seconds of my entire day and maybe my week when I–

And I apologize. So you guys handled it though, you’re amazing. For our last question, I wanted to have you guys talk about some areas outside of plugins on the page speed that we’ve already talked about, that people can focus on if they are committed, right now, to spending some time cleaning up their site and improving the speed and the weight of it.

And I’m going to let you guys think about it for a second while I make a couple of quick announcements. For our next episode of Teal Talk, it is two weeks from today. That is Thursday, March 26th at 2:00 PM. I’m being joined by the wonderful and very intelligent Amy Norhard. She is a CPA and the accountant for Creatives.

What are we going to talk about? Taxes. You’re just going to be a few weeks out at that point from the deadline. And we’re going to talk about if you’ve waited until’ the last minute, we will not judge you. We will just talk about it and help you.

And then we’re going to get into some things that, if you’ve just done your taxes, and you’re already in good shape for this year, stuff you can start doing now while things are fresh and you’re starting all over to keep yourself in great shape moving forward.

Please like us on Facebook. That way you can get all of the updates on our Teal Talk. And subscribe to our YouTube channel. Because I don’t know if you guys aren’t subscribers to our YouTube channel, you don’t know that we have a ton of video content. Not only do we edit all of our Teal Talks and upload them, we also have Eric’s video series.

One is Go for Teal, which talks about ad optimization and media products. And then the other which started a few weeks ago is SEO like CEO where he’s offering great SEO tips and digestible chunks, so you’re not overwhelmed. And you’re getting those coming every week or every other week. So that’s a great place to subscribe.

And let’s go back to my awesome guests who steered the ship while I was off in the ether somewhere. They’re amazing. They’ve given so many great tips and actionable items. Lauren Gray from Once Coupled, let’s start with you really quick. If there are some places outside of plugins where people want to focus their attention, where would they go?

LAUREN GRAY: Like I said before, images are my first to go-to. After that, it’s probably any sort of script or embed that you’ve got, either site wide or on a post by post basis. So someone mentioned Gleam. But there’s a lot of other plugins that get added into your posts, like RewardStyle or Pinterest.

Or there used to be like the fancy tweet like little call out and stuff like that. Any of those things that you don’t need anymore, especially if they’re site wide, like header, sidebar, footer, removing those would be my next big go-to I’d say.

JENNY GUY: Fantastic. Same for you Jacob. Is there anything people can do not only to reduce the weight of their site or speed themselves up but earn more?

JACOB FELTNER: Yeah. In terms of speed, like Lauren said, you know, like not too long ago, we dealt with a site where they had just a simple kind of Amazon tracking script hanging out in one of their widgets. And this was causing everything to load very, very, very, very, very slowly.

And sometimes it’s working great. Sometimes it’s not. That day it wasn’t working great. So sometimes you just have to be aware of whatever script you’re putting on your site that isn’t coming specifically from a plug-in, not like Google Analytics or anything like that, but you know just anything that you’re throwing into your sidebar, into your footer.

But also see how well your theme is performing. You know, switch to 2019, the 2019 theme in WordPress and see how much of a difference it makes just by switching the theme. You know, all the plug-ins stay the same, but the theme changes. Is there a dramatic difference? Sometimes there definitely is.

And also talk to your host about what they’re caching options are. If it can integrate with your WordPress admin, fantastic. So you don’t have to keep calling them. Just see what your options are. Because you don’t want to put four caching plugins on your site, because it won’t make your site quicker, I promise.

But just in general, you know, any kind of duplicate functionality, it won’t make it X times better. So just be a little judicious. Pick which works best, you know. And then look for another avenue to pursue to make things a little faster.

And all of these things will help because people will stay on your site, and they’ll see ads. And they’re going to keep coming back. And Google will love you. And everything will be awesome. At least– the last thing on my mind, at least when it comes to page speed, turn on desktop page speed optimization in your Mediavine dashboard.

And just, if you don’t see both of your sidebar ads after you do that, just email us. And we’ll be able to either help get the ads re-targeted so that they display properly, or we’ll advise you on what to do. Basically, the end goal, especially with that setting turned on, is to have all of your– have enough space so that all of your sidebar widgets will load. And then there is at least one widget fully out of view, under the page, under the initial view when you load the page.

And if you do that, then we can put both ads underneath there. And you’ll get better desktop page speed. And you won’t sacrifice any revenue, unless you’re running leaderboard. But you shouldn’t be running leaderboard – if you don’t know why, we’ll tell you.

JENNY GUY: So all of those things to be said, email Jacob at Publishers@Mediavine.com if you have questions on any of the amazing things that you just heard. And we are here to help. Also Lauren is available at Once Coupled if you need a little more personalized attention. And I mean, let’s be real, who doesn’t.

You can reach out to her as well. Guys, you’ve been amazing. I so appreciate you being here. And everybody at home, thank you for joining us. If you’re joining us on the replay, howdy. How’s it going? Hope you’re having a great day. Everybody stay safe out there. And we will see you in two weeks. Bye, guys.

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