Setting up and Reporting on Site Speed in Google Analytics

Jason Brewster - October 5, 2016

Wired once reported that the average webpage is now the size of the original Doom. Doom is a first-person shooter game that supports a 3D environment, sounds and animation, takes several hours to beat, and the enemies you fight have their own limited intelligence. If you aren’t too busy after reading this blog you should totally try it out.

Doom video game vs webpage - site speed

Webpages are, in many cases, digital brochures. Occasionally they are somewhat interactive. Usually the most engaging element on a web page is an animated slider that is often ignored anyway.

Keeping in mind that the total file size of your website will affect your user experience and key performance indicators this blog will discuss the various site speed tracking features available to webmasters and marketers in Google Analytics to help understand the impact of speed and help manage it.

The Site Speed Overview

Site Speed Overview Report in Google Analytics

The main report to track the average page load time across your site. This data is aggregated at the bottom and can be trended as well. Below we will discuss each of the metric’s definitions.

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. This is the most rolled up metric available, if it is significantly higher than average on a page then it would be a flag for further exploration.

Avg. Redirection Time: The time spent in redirection before fetching the page. If there are no redirects, the value for this metric is expected to be 0. If there are redirects being used unnecessarily then you should remove them.

Avg. Domain Lookup Time: The average amount of time spent in DNS lookup for the page. The only way to optimize this is to change your DNS provider, this is a decision best left to your IT team.

Avg. Server Connection Time: The time needed for the user to connect to your server. This is what takes place after the domain lookup event.

Avg. Page Download Time: The time to download your page.

Below is a graphic from Google that illustrates the relationship between these metrics.

Google Analytics Page Speed Metric Relationship

While Google Analytics does a great job of surfacing important actionable metrics, it is best to look at them discreetly as technical aspects (server related) and DOM aspects (document object model aspects) for the content side of your web page.

Technical metrics;

Google Analytics Server-Related Technical Metrics


DOM metrics:

Google Analytics Server-Releated DOM Metrics

In general, steps like server connection time will always take a small period of time, and the content on the page (images, scripts, etc.) will take much longer.

In addition to all of Google Analytics page speed reporting, there are insights available in the interface for speeding up each page of your site for mobile and desktop devices. These can be found in Google Analytics under Behavior > Site Speed > Speed Suggestions.

Google Analytics Pagespeed Tools Insights
It is possible to improve conversion rate and organic inbound traffic by improving your page load experience. These Google Analytics reports are the first steps to minimize page speed and maximize UX.

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