Google Analytics have made some improvements to how the site load speed reports for your website are accessible.
When Site Speed reporting was first launched in May of this year the reports were accessible by adding an extra command into your Google Analytics tracking code for all the pages of your website. This code (shown below) called an extra function which was used to generate the site load speed reports in the new version of Google Analytics.
Old Tracking Code for Page load speed: _gaq.push([‘_trackPageLoadTime’]);
Google have now announced that this is no longer needed and that they will report directly on the site load speed time in Analytics without adding this code.
This is great news for people wanting to track site load speed as it means that you don’t need to tweak the Analytics code on your website template to include this additional string.
The Speed reports in Analytics now also include information about pages which redirect and how long this redirect takes and also allows you to track a page which has a virtual page URL in the TrackPageView command, meaning that the data is more than just about static pages of your website but other things too. From an SEO point of view this information could be useful and is another reason to resolve any internal 301 redirect you have links to on your site and making sure that you link only to non redirecting URLs on your website.
As site load speed is so important for your website and your SEO this means that all webmasters will be able to track which pages may be taking too long to load so that you can address these slow loading pages and make sure that any issues causing your website to run slowly are addressed and issues resolved.
Page load speed information can be seen in Google Analytics in the following way:
Under the Content section in the new version of Analytics go to Site Speed where you will see 3 tabs.
This tab lets you see the performance of your website against the normal Google Analytics metrics such as:
Page – this shows which pages are fastest and which are slower and compares this information with Page Views, Bounce Rate and Exit rate. The sample size is also shown.
Traffic sources – allowing you to measure the page load speed of visitors coming to your site via all of your marketing activities including Search Marketing and Email Marketing
Technology – showing you if you page loading times are affected by browser, operating system and type of device (important with the growing importance of smart phone users)
This second tab shows you the average lading times of pages on your website as well as being able to see the breakdown of how this is affecting your visitors, enabling you to see that if there is a page with a really slow loading time it might only be affecting 5% of visitors and the rest of your visitors are seeing a decent page load time for the site,
This final tab allows you to see if there are visitors from specific geographic regions which are experiencing slower loading times than other areas of the world, useful if you have an international website.
As this new version of the site load speed has only just been rolled out you will only be seeing a small sample size in your Analytics just now (unless you’d added the tracking snippet) but don’t worry, give it a few weeks and you’ll get a decent sample size to review your website and content loading times against and then you’ll be able to make some changes to your site to improve things if you need to.
By default Google Analytics samples 1% of the views to a page to track the time they spend loading, which is the data you see when you load the reports in Analytics. However, if you wish to change this rate to more or less Google do now allow this to be changed with an extra bit of code in the Google Analytics tracking snippet. Information about the extra code needed can be found on the Google Analytics help forum here
Don’t worry if you have already added the tracking code for page load time and don’t have the available resource to remove it just now, Google Analytics will just ignore this code, so you don’t need to remove it immediately.