Google has announced a new tool for Google Analytics — the Site Speed report. The new speed report measures page load times across your website, offering an easy way to see which pages could use optimization and which are already fast.
Chances are — if you’re a good Webmonkey — you’re already testing your page load times with YSlow, Google’s Page Speed site, Web Page Test and other optimization tools. What makes Google Analytic’s offering a bit different is that abstract numbers, like how long it takes to load a page, are correlated against other numbers, like the percentage of exits from that page. It’s one thing to know that your online store landing page is loading a bit slowly, but it’s even more useful to know that the slow load time is actually driving customers away.
Once the new Analytics code is running on your website, the Site Speed report will rank your pages from those with the highest latency to those with the lowest. Site Speed will also list all of the following information:
- Avg 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.
- Pageviews — The actual number of times the page was viewed for the selected date range.
- Page Load Sample — The actual number of pageviews that were sampled to calculate the average page load time.
- Bounce Rate — As for Pages report, the percentage of views to this page in which this page was the only one viewed for the session.
- % Exit — As for the Pages report, the percentage of views to this page in which this page was the last page in the session.
Keep in mind that you’ll need at least several hundred pageviews before this information really begins to tell a useful story about your site. For smaller websites that may mean waiting a few days before you get a true picture of your load times.
As I mentioned in the write-up about the new Opera Dragonfly, there’s really no such thing as too many developer tools. The same applies to speed testing tools, and Google Analytic’s new offering is indeed handy.
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 (BSD license).