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Thursday, May. 19, 2011 at 11:33 am

Google Analytics Basics: New(!) Site Speed Report

By Whitney Wilding
May 19th, 2011

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.

About Google’s New Site Speed Report

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.

How To Begin Gathering Data

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.

What Will You Do With This Insight?

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.

Add Your Comments

Comments (58)

  1. site speed, good for visitors and search engine.

  2. in google webmaster tools a “site performance” option show load time of site but seems in GA is alittle advanved.
    please a posting about “Instant Previews” in WBT that recently added.
    thanks Whitney.

  3. This option will really works better. in today’s busy life people who works online (especially on Google) they don’t want to wait for a second for upload a page.

  4. @john – we did write a post about that when the feature first came out. Read our thoughts on Instant Preview now.

  5. Only a few of the pages in my blog show pageload times in Google Analytics. Maybe more data will be available as Google continues to crawl. Many free tools are also available elsewhere for page load speed. I like Pingdom Tools.

  6. A big part of load times are tied to photos and css/javascript issues. You can use a CDN (and a subdomain) and optimize your css/javascript to speed things up.

  7. Hay,please tell me why analytics and webmaster tool,report visits page are to many different

  8. Will internet speed up to the point where the difference in web load time will be insignificant? I mean web load time means a lot less to me now than when I was younger with dial up.

  9. Whitney,

    Site loading speed really does affecting rankings. I had a wordpress blog hosted by godaddy.com and it was running on a windows server and the load times were horrible. I switched it to run on a linux server, and my page loads are super fast and my Google serps went up on all my pages.

  10. According to google page load is major factor in determining your site ranking.Search engine dnt want high page load time to affect user experience.

  11. Page load time is definitely of importance. My site is image heavy, but I’ve managed to increase load times via a variety of methods.

    I’m still getting to grips with the intricacies of google analytics though.

  12. I am not sure about the fact page speed load is an important criteria. I have a website which is very long to load (mainly due to full image background) and I am still above all my competitors in GG !

  13. Great article, Whitney. Page loading speed is a major factor in Google’s assessment of Authority Score — looks like they figure the folks with the fastest servers and high speed connections deserve more ‘authority’ — probably a valid conclusion.

    This also argues for selecting a hosting company with good performance ratings, and keeping your site structure as flat as possible — minimize the number of link hops (clicks) between home page and other pages.

  14. This feature is a welcome addition to the already awesome Google Analytics toolset. You can see the effects of a slow-loading page even in your own web-surfing experiences… I’ve grown frustrated with certain sites who, over time, have demonstrated to be slow-loaders.

    Freddy K @ Finally Fast

  15. Site speed info has been very helpful. Using a cache plugin with my WordPress site has helped me see a big difference in the Analytics.

  16. Hello,

    Thanks for the info. Google indeed confirmed that site loading speed was a new parameter in its algo: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2010/04/using-site-speed-in-web-search-ranking.html

    Apparently not a key factor but a factor in the end…

    Oh gosh! another matter to take into account when looking after sites…

    take care ;)

  17. @acne – you might rank well, but how many of the people who see your link actually wait around for your site to load, or spend any time engaging with your site?

  18. I think Google has to come with a better legitimate data to be able to see a decent result. . .

  19. This addition is great. I have been wondering how my site does after a large newsletter is sent out. Now I know that certain pages need work & completely destroy some of my efforts.

  20. Flash based websites are eye catching but when it comes to SEO, nothing works better than good old HTML sites. It loads and indexes faster in google.

  21. If a site has good load time,it will get more visitors and also load time effects the ranking of the site.

  22. @Papou – now I am curious…. what do you mean by “result” and what kind of result are you looking for?

  23. finally i can drop my 3rd party tools and test that from GA.
    very important for on page SEO.

  24. I have watched a video of Matt Cutts in which he told that when sites have equal links then we assign ranking on load time of the site.

  25. Google says: Its a good idea to place compressed files (gzip) on your server. this will increase download speed (but needs extra time on the visitors computer for decompressing). it might be very uncomfortable to serve compressed file… do you think its nessessary for good google ranking in future?

  26. I usually give up on a website if it takes more than few seconds to open it.

  27. Load time is indeed a key indicator for success for all websites, especially when you know that if it takes more than 1 sec to load, visitor will already be out of your site!

  28. I agree that site speed is important, and kudos to Google for letting webmasters keep track of this metric.

    But I do wonder – as other commenters have pointed out – how long will that truly be significant?

    More and more people are gaining access to pretty FAST internet speeds … even on mobile phones.

    I guess only time will tell.

  29. Hi whitney, I’m new to blogging. With a wordpress plugin i succesfully integrated my Google analytics account to my website booktine.com, but I want to track my adsense usage and keyword analysis, please do a post on how to track adsense through Google analytics, it would be of great help. Thanks

  30. I’ve been wanting more performance data recently, and it is great to know that I can get it from Google Analytics now. Especially since half the reason I want the data is that rumors indicate Google is including performance in their ranking algorithms.

  31. For those that eschew Google in favor of self-hosted analytics — like the popular Mint or good old AWStats — there are self-hosted page speed trackers available as well, such as Yahoo’s Boomerang suite

  32. Nice post, Glad to know that analytics can now track speed also. Can i see adsense clicks on analytics? If yes how can it be done? plz reply

  33. I usually give up on a website if it takes more than few seconds to open it.

  34. Yes I’ve noticed JavaScript seems to be the biggest factor in slowing down the load time.

  35. This is a pretty cool article. If a site takes three or more seconds to load, I usually hit the exit button. As a webmaster, I envision using this feature to help me speed up my site so that visitors can see results instantly. Thanks for this update!

  36. i started using analytic for the past one week ….can u tell me how to track adsense clicks

  37. Google Analytics is best for tracking on web not sure about Mobile devices…

  38. A huge section of insert instances are usually linked with photographs and also css/javascript concerns. You need to use any CDN (plus a subdomain) and also boost the css/javascript to be able to velocity items upwards.

  39. Its good that Google considers loading speed, users don’t like web sites that take forever, so nether should Google. Thanks for the info!!

  40. The problem with this is i’ve got a site that has tons of images and videos. phpmotion driven and youtube videos. there’s just no way around it…code is clean, no syntax errors..lots of links. idk..i’ll look into this though.

  41. The ironic thing is that by adding the Google analytics tracking code to your page you’re effectively slowing down the percieved speed of page load for your visitors – what are we supposed to do about that?

  42. site speed is important but you also need site stability. It is fine to have a real fast load time but if your site is not allways reachable or the load times vary from one time to the next that could go against you.

  43. @Piano Chords – we haven’t experienced decreased load times with our clients who put the GA tag on their sites.

  44. Im asking is analytical speed report same as speed report from google webmaster tools? Or this dont have any similarity with it?

  45. I actually haven’t used Google Analytics in awhile. Maybe because I’m paranoid that Google is somehow watching me. But this is a cool feature, nonetheless. For some of my sites I used shared hosting, which can often be slow. It would be nice to see who might be having trouble loading the page within a reasonable amount of time. I might have to give Analytics a go again.

  46. I can’t find where to add the code and I would really like to see these numbers since I’ve been told my site is slow to load.

  47. Page load time is definitely of importance. My site is image heavy, but I’ve managed to increase load times via a variety of methods.

    I’m still getting to grips with the intricacies of google analytics though.

  48. Loading time is very important, not just for users but for search engines as well. Sort it!

  49. My total page load times are relatively slow, BUT the majority of that time is loading the AdSense ads. Otherwise, my pages are very fast.

    Does anyone have any idea whether Google would be so confused as to penalize websites for running their ads?

  50. I have 0.00 on all the pages of my site for site speed. What am I doing wrong?

  51. Whitney site loading speed really does affecting rankings.According to google page load is major factor in determining your site ranking.Search engine dnt want high page load time to affect user experience.

  52. @Daily Inspiration – regardless of how Google accounts for this in your page rank, think about the impact this has on your site visitors! How many of them stick around long enough to see those darn ads that are slowing down your site load time, much less read your website?

  53. I knew site speed was important, but not that important.I think I’ll relook my hosting company!

  54. It is nice concept for webmaster to opimtize the website page in best manner and in New Algorithm of Google, it is mentioned that your site page should have fast download time.

    @Ted, as you will check your hosting company, you also should check the site download time as well. In Webmaster panel you can optimize it…

    Even my website is also suffering with this issue becuase in header part, i am using flash, now going to remove it. I am also trying to optimize it

  55. Ive added this to my site. tough only a few pages show up at the moment.

    I have many images on my site, but all are optimised on important pages so that I can get the load time down. If you use wordpress guys don’t use to many plugins!

  56. Did anyone see an actual improvement on Google rankings as a result of page speed optimization?

  57. Great fast speed loading of site helps in SEO and Google ranking.

  58. Speed is important to a certain extent, I think if you have a lot of pictures google will love your site anyway

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