Over the past decade, site speed has become a key performance metric. This tutorial will explain why and show you how you can monitor your site speed with Google Analytics and with Google PageSpeed Insights.
What is Site Speed Important
The main reason why site speed is important is that in the digital world we are incredibly impatient - we have come to expect near instant response to our web browsing. Many studies have found that a website’s bounce rate dramatically increases when it takes longer than a couple seconds to load (see here and here. This means you could be missing out on potential conversions from people who bounce before they even get to know you and your product.
A slow site is so detrimental to a visitor’s experience that Google started adding it as a feature to their web search ranking algorithm in 2010 and they recently announced that they’ll be adding speed to mobile search rankings in July of 2018.
This doesn’t mean that speed is a primary metric that matters for SEO. Relevance to a search query, for instance, will continue to be more important in rankings. But adding speed as a feature underscores the importance of site speed on a user’s experience.
So a slow site will hurt you twice - first with potentially lower rankings on Google search results, and then with high bounce rates for those who come to your site.
How to Check Site Speed in Google Analytics
If you have Google Analytics tracking on your site, you can use one of the standard GA reports to monitor your site speed.
In the Site Speed - Overview report you can see how your speed has trended over time and you can drill down by browser, country and specific pages so you can investigate which are your worst and best performing pages. You can also add any standard or custom Segment, for instance the Mobile segment. Tracking changes over time is very important so you can measure the impact of new features or releases on site speed.
You can also use Chartio to view your Google Analytics data. A key advantage of this is that in one place, you can get stats from your internal systems, Google Analytics and many other 3rd parties so you only have to go to one place to understand traffic on your site.
Google Analytics also provides recommendations for how to speed up your site using the Site Speed - Speed Suggestions report and clicking through to PageSpeed Insights. Note that you don’t have to take all of Google’s recommendations - some might actually counter how you want your core site to behave, but you should always consider the tradeoffs with site speed.
If you don’t have Google Analytics tracking set up, or you simply don’t want to use Google Analytics, you can also jump directly into the PageSpeed Insights tool. You’ll get information about your page speed for both Mobile and Desktop and get recommendations on how to optimize your site. Note that you won’t be able to cut and dice the information into many other dimensions like you can in Google Analytics, but it’s a great starting point to see how your site is performing.
Site speed is a very important aspect of your site’s performance as it can have a great impact on user experience and on SEO. It’s important that you understand your site’s speed and monitor it regularly.