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Adding Live Chat To Your Website With Drift

This is just a quick note of 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.  Alot 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.  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.

** 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.

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.

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