Site speed analysis now expanded in Google Analytics

It isn’t sexy but web site performance matters! Slow websites impact profits: every 1 second delay in page response results in a 7% reduction in conversions (Kissmetrics). Additionally, slow load times impact your web site ranking in Google’s search engine results (see Matt Cutt’s short video at bottom of this post). That’s why Google has been pushing developers and brands to get passionate about web site performance testing and optimization.

ATELES FUSCICEPS ROBUSTUS
Image from BBC UK (http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/adaptations/Animal_language)

To understand site performance, Google first introduced the Site Speed report in Google Analytics approximately 18 months ago. This report helped identify slow loading page but was often overlooked because (A) the analytics tracking code has to change on each page and (B) tracking occurred only for visits from those browsers that had the Google Toolbar installed or those that support the HTML5 Navigation Timing interface (aka, Chrome, Firefox 7+, Internet Explorer 9+, Android 4.0).

To overcome these challenges, Google released the next iteration of the Site Speed report. Found under the Behavior section of Google Analytics, the Site Speed report has been expanded into a suite of website performance reports. It has also been integrated with a new set of tools.

Here are the key takeaways:

  • The Site Speed Overview report now provides high-level data on the average page load time from a variety of perspectives — by different browsers, different locations and pages.
  • The new Speed Suggestion report now provides detailed load times for the most visited pages on your site.
  • The Speed Suggestion report also links to a new PageSpeed Insights tool which offers suggestions to optimize your site for desktop and mobile visitors.
  • Page load times are now calculated using a 1% sampling rate (vs. previous 10% sampling rate). NOTE: This smaller sample size seems to me to be a counterintuitive move (aka, more variability, no?!).

These reports and new analysis tool also complement the previously released PageSpeed optimization service (private beta), which dynamically optimizes your website, and the newly released PageSpeed Module for the open source Apache web server and Nginx reverse proxy server. NOTE: The PageSpeed optimization service is currently free but may transition into a paid service in the future.

What techniques/tools are you using to optimize your web site performance?

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