Poor performance on Largest Contentful Paint

My Discourse site is showing poor performance on Largest Contentful Paint for all “mobile” views.

I believe this is connected to a significant drop in page views.

Using Google Analytics, my site is faced with a sharp drop in views despite no other problems. The number of posts and number of users are fine.

Google page experience indicate the following.

“in cases where there are many pages that may be similar in relevance, page experience can be much more important for visibility in Search”

Page experience ranking signal went into effect:

  • August 2021 - mobile
  • desktop rollout start - February 2022
  • desktop rollout complete - February 2022

Is there anything I can do to improve my view count?

Additional Info

Site Map

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Traffic Acquisition by Users

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  • Organic search: 85%
  • Direct: 10%
2 Likes

There are certain metrics where Discourse, due to its architecture – it is a JavaScript app that runs in the browser, not static HTML like the web in 1996 – won’t be as fast. A simple, static HTML page will always beat Discourse in first load time because it’s not an app. However, every subsequent page load will be dramatically faster once the JavaScript app is loaded, because we pull down just the data necessary to display, not the entire “web page” on each load.

:thinking: Think of it this way: are you measuring time to load in your smartphone apps starting with the time to first download and install the app from the app store? Or are you measuring time to load once the app is already installed on your phone?

There are some things we can do to improve this, but fundamentally that’s the tradeoff. We are optimized for repeat visitors but not for one-and-done, a single page view never to be seen again for the rest of your life. If you expect your audience to be primarily one-and-done, single page view people, then honestly you should not choose Discourse. It is the wrong tool for that job. :hammer_and_wrench:

(This is also complicated by the fact that Android devices are 3x slower than iPhones at JavaScript, and Google has everything invested in Android and has to pretend that iPhones don’t exist, thus they always test on slow Android devices, because frankly that’s the only kind of Android device that exists. Don’t believe me? Test for yourself at Speedometer 2.0. I wish it wasn’t true… but it is.)

5 Likes

Thank you for the good information.

Is it possible that I’ve misconfigured Discourse and there is something I can fix on the site? I’m hoping that the problem is with me, the human.

I just disabled all the customizations in themes and components in the hope that something there was pointing to a non-existent resource.

I’m trying to go through the log files to see if some asset or header is causing the page loads to be slower than normal.

If I dig down into the logs, I’ll eventually find things like this:

excon/socket.rb at master · excon/excon · GitHub

However, I’m not sure what it means.

I’ve also recently created a wordpress blog for content and connected it to Discourse with the Wordpress Discourse plug-in.

The SEO problem with my Discourse site may be particularly bad as I made the strategic error of trying to use Discourse as a blog a few years ago. I would post a significant response to a question and then over time, would get these single topics with 20K or 60K views. Likely, I should have closed the topic. Some of the topics have hundreds of replies.

Another problem is that the site is heavily used by software developers and many developers linked Discourse topics to apps that they built. The support links on the marketplace for some apps are linked to a Discourse topic, one link per app.

At some point, I will need to report back to group manager at a large, global hardware maker about what happened to the views in 2021. In the Google Analytics screenshot I included in the original post, people can see the steady drop in traffic in 2021.

I’m hoping to gather information for some type of report back to the group manager. There’s a drop of several hundred thousand views on a specialized site in 2021.

I suspect that the group manager will be okay with an explanation of what I’m going to do to improve things in 2022. My intention is to explain why there was a drop in 2021 and what the strategy is in 2022.

1 Like

No, you haven’t done anything wrong. It’s the nature of the product:

Discourse, as a JavaScript app, is optimized for repeat visitors, not one and done visitors.

2 Likes

Unfortunately part of optimizing for any visitors (be they repeat or not) requires playing nicely with Google’s algorithm du jour. This has been discussed before:

2 Likes

It also requires playing nicely with the rest of the phones in the world, e.g. iPhones :wink: … so it’s time to get your Google contacts on the phone and let them know!