So far in this Google Analytics Basics series of posts, we’ve covered The Content Report and The Visitors Report. But Google has given us something new to talk about these days. The effects of load times have received extensive attention on the web, including right here on the Grok in Bryan’s post, Time is Money. The idea that load times can have an effect on conversion rates and search rankings is not new, and there are plenty of resources out there to help you determine the load times of your site and minimize the factors causing some of these problems, many of which are free. Still, we were excited when Google announced their own Site Speed Analytics report, whose beta version is available to all current GA users under the new version of Google Analytics.
By having this capability in analytics, you now are able to integrate site load data with the other Google Analytics metrics you commonly use for analysis. Use the site speed metric in your custom reports to help answer questions of interest to you and your business. For example, you can determine the load times for various landing pages of your top campaigns, or to find out if you have a high number of visitors from a certain region that experience slower load times than the rest of your visitors. There’s no doubt that access to site speed information can be a helpful component of your conversion rate optimization efforts in pointing you toward way to make your website better. If you are concerned about the impact that load times could be having on your site, or just want to optimize your visitor experience even more, take a cue from OnTarget’s process, and let your data drive your focus: use the load time data you collect to identify the highest impact problem areas, and start your improvement efforts there.
To initiate capture of the site speed information on your site, you will need to make a small change to your Analytics tracking code. Luckily, you can watch Google’s full tutorial to learn how to do this. You can access the new version of Google Analytics by clicking on the “New Version” link in the header of your current Google Analytics account, like you see in this snapshot (right). Once your data begins to collect, Google will report:
Average page load time: the average amount of time (in seconds) it takes that page to load, from initiation of the pageview (e.g. click on a page link) to load completion in the browser.
Number of pageviews: The number of times the page was viewed for the selected date range.
Page load sample: The number of pageviews that were sampled to calculate the average page load time.
Bounce Rate (on the Pages report): The percentage of views of this page for which this page was the only one viewed for the session.
% Exit (on the Pages report): The percentage of views of this page for which this page was the last page in the session.
In addition to using the Site Speed metric in your custom reports, the Site Speed Report can be useful to you in-and-of-itself. When using Google’s weighted sort feature to get at valuable insights, you more easily learn which pages on your site with a significant amount of pageviews also experience high load times. How do you envision using this feature, either with or without some of the other Google Analytics reports and features?… Share your ideas and pipedreams about the Site Speed Report.