Disqus is a very popular social commenting system used by over 600 thousand websites (Source: BuiltWith).

Disqus describe themselves as “Disqus helps publishers increase engagement and build loyal audiences.

Today I found out that Disqus for WordPress is having a negative impact on my website’s performance (page speed on both desktop and mobile) specifically on blog posts that could outway the benefits of using Disqus alltogther. Without going into to much technical detail, I’m going to explain why.

Disqus for WordPress is degrading your website pagespeed

It’s a plugin I have had installed and active on my WordPress website for a number of years now. I really had no problem with the Disqus WordPress plugin up until today. I ran a GTmetrix report on one of my recently published articles to see what else I could do to boost performance. When the GTmetrix report had loaded I was stunned at the number of redirect chains it was flagging. The number of requests was unusually high too. I thought WTF had I been hacked or something as I do not track visitor behaviour other than Google Analytics/Tag Manager.

I did a little research on a handful of the domains listed in redirect chains. For example, scorecardresearch.com has been widely flagged as an unfavourable tracking data gatherer. Knowing that alone, my thoughts turned to ‘I want rid of these now’.

Disabling Plugins to find the Cause

That when I started to dig into what could be the cause. Early evidence pointed towards another WordPress plugin called Addthis, which is a social sharing plugin. I do not use that plugin. But knowing it was probably a plugin at the root of the cause. I started to disable plugins one by one and rerun GTmetrix after each disabled plugin.

It didn’t take long as WordPress lists in plugins alphabetical order, Disqus is D. I saw an immediate performance boost in GTmetrix and PageSpeed Insights after disabling.

Search Engine Roundtable uses Disqus

It’s probably worth noting, I was using the free plan on Disqus as I don’t have the need for a paid plan due to low comment activity. I couldn’t comment on how much 3rd party tracking Discus implements on paid-for plans. I know that Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Roundtable is currently using Disqus. He gets hundreds of user-generated comments per week. I ran a GTmetrix report on his website, it paints a similar picture to what I was seeing. Here’s a link to the report: https://gtmetrix.com/reports/www.seroundtable.com/nEAISZ9A again I’m going to caveat his website is not using WordPress and is probably knowingly using 3rd party tracking apps. Meaning the test scenario is most probably different. I’m going to reach out to Barry with this post to ask for his opinion.

Here is the evidence that I gathered

Anyhow, I will share the data with you. It shows a noticeable performance boost after disabling Disqus WordPress plugin. So much, in fact, you’d be silly to leave it activated after knowing what I have mentioned and demonstrated.

Disqus plugin active (GTmetrix) for Desktop

Disqus plugin disabled (GTmetrix) for Desktop

Disqus plugin active (Google’s PageSpeed Insights) for Mobile

Disqus plugin Disabled (Google’s PageSpeed Insights) for Mobile

 

Here’s the list of 3rd party tracking redirect chains Disqus (and possibly others) inserts in to your website that impacts on page performance. Data lifted directly from GTmetrix.

Remove the following redirect chain if possible:

Remove the following redirect chain if possible:

Remove the following redirect chain if possible:

Remove the following redirect chain if possible:

Remove the following redirect chain if possible:

Remove the following redirect chain if possible:

Remove the following redirect chain if possible:

Remove the following redirect chain if possible:

Remove the following redirect chain if possible:

Remove the following redirect chain if possible:

Remove the following redirect chain if possible:

Remove the following redirect chain if possible:

Remove the following redirect chain if possible:

Remove the following redirect chain if possible:

Remove the following redirect chain if possible:

Remove the following redirect chain if possible:

Remove the following redirect chain if possible:

Remove the following redirect chain if possible:

Remove the following redirect chain if possible:

Remove the following redirect chain if possible:

Remove the following redirect chain if possible:

It’s your mobile users who are going to suffer the most

As for the comments themselves, what should I do to?  I’m not quite sure just yet. I will have to think about that one further. Maybe I should reach out directly to Disqus and see what they have to say on the matter.

If you are performance conscious like myself. It’s probably worth noting that performance isn’t massively impacted if most of your visitors are using a desktop PC. It’s the mobile users who are going to suffer slowest loading times on your blog posts. It will likely impact on your organic search (SEO) performance too. PageSpeed is an important ranking signal.

Google – “People want to be able to find answers to their questions as fast as possible — studies show that people really care about the speed of a page. Although speed has been used in ranking for some time, that signal was focused on desktop searches. Today we’re announcing that starting in July 2018, page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches.” Source: https://webmasters.googleblog.com/search/label/speed

If you do decide to give Disqus the boot. I have found a tutorial that may be of some use. It details on how to convert Disqus comments back to WordPress comments. Here is the link: https://www.ampercent.com/migrate-disqus-comments-back-wordpress/21729/. I have also discovered an alternative to Disqus called  WpDiscuz.

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