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3 Things You Need To Know About Third-Party Scripts On Your Website

Third-party scripts are scripts that can be embedded into websites by a third-party vendor. Mostly, they’re used for things like analytics, advertising, widgets, and connecting your website to other business software. Anytime you see an embedded video or social media sharing buttons, you’re looking at third-party scripts. 

Why are third-party scripts a big deal?

They’re everywhere! Every site you visit or click you make could send browsing information back to a third-party source. You may not know who is receiving your data and you’re at the mercy of whatever website you’re visiting. 

Your website is no exception. Those quirky widgets you think are fun and eye-catching might be opening you up to liabilities. Luckily, You can decide what third-party scripts you allow to operate. While many of these third-party scripts come from reputable sources, the internet is full of unreliable and risky ones. Here are three things to know about third-party scripts on your website.

 

Privacy Issues

When we browse the internet, our information continually goes out to several third parties. They can track us through cookies and place ads on one site based on our browsing history from other websites. Standard third-party tracking is pretty transparent. We can follow codes and get an idea of what kind of browsing is going on.

Unfortunately, there are some bad actors out there who are not transparent. Your email address, purchase history, location, and more can leak to eavesdroppers without you even knowing it. As a site owner, you’ll almost certainly add third-party scripts. Share buttons, form creators, and also comments sections all fall into this category. The best thing you can do to protect your users’ privacy is to research the third-parties you’re using and make sure to disclose the names of those systems in your privacy policy

If your privacy policy doesn’t have accurate information for users to know where their data is going, you open yourself to potential lawsuits. Be wary of any scripts that provide personal identifying information about your website visitors as they may be selling that information. That is against the law in some states and some countries so make sure you are careful.

 

Security Issues

Letting someone else’s script into your site makes you extremely vulnerable. That third-party has access to your entire front-end website. Before adding any additional scripts outside of your own, make sure the service you’re using is safe.

Sometimes, third-party scripts will actually build off information coming from another third-party. This process funnels data to at least two other companies, if not more. The more the code is exposed like this, the more opportunities hackers have to inject malware, which directly affects your website’s security.

Hackers are continuously looking for ways to access encrypted information on your website. Similar to the privacy issue above, some advertisers or third-party payment scripts have lax encryption implementation methods. Without realizing it, your customers’ information could be out in the open until the vendor encrypts the data. By that time, the information is available for anyone to see.

Privacy is essential, but taking additional security steps is paramount. Neglecting site security, including third-party scripts, can land you in the courtroom. Be diligent in your research before deciding to welcome in a third-party.

 

Optimization Issues

Another substantial problem with third-party scripts is the effect on your site’s optimization. Privacy and security are important, but they’re irrelevant if no one visits your site! Adding widgets and analytics to your website can slowly drag down site performance. Boosters like caching and CDNs can only do so much, but some third-party scripts can damage performance. 

For starters, these scripts can load large images or video files, putting more stress on your host. Slow page load times are a killer for your SEO scores since search algorithms put an enormous focus on website speeds. The more additional functionality you add with third-party scripts, the more work your server has to do. 

Having several third-party scripts can also run into the problem of launching too many requests off to multiple servers. The more requests a site has to make, the longer it will take to load. We discussed how CDNs can reduce latency, but even so, too many requests can overwhelm servers and slow everything down.

There are tools in place to help identify what third-party scripts are on your website. This diagnostic information shows how many third parties are running scripts and a breakdown of which ones take the most time to execute. Optimizing your website, including these third-party scripts, will be one of the most critical aspects of site maintenance.

 

Conclusion

Almost every website uses some kind of script from a third party. We all take advantage of inserting someone else’s code from embedded videos to pop-up forms to social media share buttons. Our challenge is to make sure we only use third parties we trust and trying to keep our site as optimized as possible. 

When adding any third-party scripts, the first step should be to research security protocols for third-party codes. Make sure you’re working with reputable firms before opening your site to additional functionality. Choosing from thousands of potential integrations is difficult. Choose wisely!

 

Do you know everything happening behind the scenes on your website? WPClover offers a FREE 30-point website health inspection to help show you the effect third-party scripts have on your site. Schedule your check today!

 

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