Under the Behavior menu on the Google Analytics website you will find a section called Site Speed.
- Overview – gives you some basic stats about Load time, Server Connection Time, Page Download Time.
- Page Timings – gives you information about each page viewed.
- Speed Suggestions – gives you a list of pages and some suggestions on how to increase loading on each of those pages. These sugesstions remind me a lot of the suggestions you get when you test your site using YSlow.
Lets look at each one in more detail.
The top of the overview report gives you basic information on over all performance. By checking this report from time to time you will know if you begin to have a problem with page load time. As you can see the average page load time is just over 1 second. This is a very good number in my opinion it means my users are getting there information back quite fast. I don’t want anyone to have to wait. Let’s look into this a little more and see if we can determine why the load time is 1 second maybe it could be improved.
Overview report has three different dimensions you can look at data for they are browser , Country / Territory or Page on the left under site speed. Remember this is just an overview so you can’t see any detailed information. I have placed all three reports in the same image above for ease of viewing. Lets look at each one.
Browser gives you information about the load time for each browser type. As you can see my site appears to be loading a lot slower on android browser. It might be a good idea for me to find a word press theme that’s better optimized for the android browser.
Country / Territory gives you information as to the load time for people coming from different countries. As you can see Gambia appears to be getting some slow loading. Not a lot i can do about it but its fun to know that someone from Gambia has found my little blog and is willing to wait 11 seconds for the page to load.
Page gives you information about the load times for each page on your site. This report annoyed me a little as it seams to be ordered by ascending Avg. Page Load which means its showing me the pages with the lowest load time first. To me it would make much more sense to order by the pages with the highest load times in an overview report, and because its just an overview report i cant change the sorting.
The page timings report makes up for the issues with the Page in the overview report.
There are two things I like to check in this report the first you can see in the picture above. It is a list over my pages displaying the total number of page-views. Now these are the pages that are most often viewed on my site so logic would dictate that i should try and ensure that they load the fastest. The first column is the the page it self in this case /google-oauth2-csharp/ the number of page views for that page is 371. The last column is the one we really want to take a closer look at. The title of the last column is 1.14 Site Avg:1.14(0.00%) remember from the overview report 1.14 was the average load time for pages on my site. If you look at the value in this column for my page it says 15.24% and its red. That means that this page is loading 15.24% slower then the average load time for pages on my site, thats not to bad. Now look at /facebook-app-settings/ what is up with that? That page is loading 124.14% slower then all other pages on the site i really need to figure out whats going on there. I suspect it has something to do with the fact that that post has only been live for 6 days i have also changed my WordPress theme but that’s just a guess.
Here is the second report i like to look at. In the second column drop down change PageViews to Avg. Page Load Time (sec). This changes the report slightly now you see a list over the pages with the worst load times. As you can see /ssis-package-variables/ is really bad well not really it takes 3.78 seconds to load that page but against the site average of 1.14 it looks very bad that it loads 230.28% slower then the other pages. What could be the cause of this. I copied the page into the search field and set the report back to page views the page has only been views 7 times.
Lets dig into this.
Gambia loading slowly made me think that it could be an issue of where they are coming from. So I added Country / Territory as a secondary dimension on the report, I found that it was someone from the USA loaded in 3.78 seconds. Then I thought well what if its that android browser issue so I changed my secondary dimension to Device Category this relieved that its a Desktop that loaded at 3.78. This is when things start to get sneaky I have never really dug around so deep into Google Analytics tracking data.
- Country / Territory : USA
- Device Category: Desktop
- Browser: Chrome
- Browser Version 31.0.1650.63
- City: Phoenix
- Operating system: Windows 7
- Service Provider: arizona state government
- Visit Duration: 0
Well after a bit of digging i feel a bit like the NSA but I don’t really have any idea why the load time was slow. I do think that its strange that the Visit Duration was 0. I will get back to you if i ever manage to track this issue down.
Site Speed Suggestions
The Site Speed Suggestions report is the one i mentioned earlier that reminds me a lot of YSlow, this report will give you recomendations on how to fix any pages that are slow.
Note: This report wont work on a View (profile) that has any filters set on it. If you see Help in the Page Speed Suggestions or None in the Page Speed score columns it is because Analytics was unable to create the reports for you. The following is directly from Google help.
If you see Help in the PageSpeed Suggestions column, this indicates that we were unable to analyze the page at the given URL, and you should try again later. If the error persists, it may be due to any of the following:
- The hostname you have configured in the Website’s URL section of your View Settings is not a valid hostname for your website.
- The URLs shown in the Site Speed Suggestions report are not valid URLs for your website.
- You are tracking multiple subdomains and not using a single hostname.
- You have set up view filters to rewrite your URLs.
- The page requires authentication.
If you read my Google Analytics profiles name change post you will remember we talked about why its a good idea to have a Default view one with out any changes. This is one of the reasons, your default view should be able to run the Site Speed Suggestions while other views with changes to the configuration may not.
If you click on the Avg. Page Load time (sec) column in the report you will be able to sort the rows with the slowest first. As you can see in the image above /ssis-package-variables/ has the lowest load time. The Last column is the Page Speed Score. In this column you can see the score that Google has given your page a score of how good or badly it is loading, 100 is the best. The Page Speed Suggestions column is the column that Google uses to tell you how you could improve the performance of that page. If you click on the little icon next to the 9 total value of the column a new window will open. There are three levels to Googles suggestions Should fix, consider Fixing and Passed rule. In my case i apparently Should Enable compression, and Leverage browser caching. A lot of the things they recommended are not something the average user can do anything about. For example my site is hosted i don’t control whats installed on the server i am also running WordPress so making large changes to the websites code base is not something i can do. But its worth checking if you can fix anything if you are having major issues some place Google can give you a hint as to where to start.
You should know understand what the Google Analtyics Site speed reports are all about and how they can help you to determine if there are any performance issues on your website.