Google Analytics and Your Website Speed

Google Analytics can help you improve your website’s speed. A faster website is a better website and that’s true not just for users who get a better experience but also for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), since page load speed is one of the 200 or so factors that Google uses to rank sites.

How do you use Google Analytics in your website design? Share your thoughts below. 

Testing site load times reliably is not always easy since it depends upon traffic and how far away the user is from the nearest server. Many big websites pay to use a Content Delivery Network (CDN), so no matter where a user is located, the content appears to be local and the site usually loads much quicker.

For example, an east coast U.S. website accessed from the U.K. adds around 100 ms for TCP packets to cross the Atlantic. Loading a Web page involves fetching the HTML, individual graphics, CSS, and JavaScript. So, for each object request and its response, there is a 100 ms penalty.

Google Analytics allows website owners to see how many visitors their site has, in order to accurately track those site visitors to see which pages they’ve visited, where they came from and much more. This is done through a JavaScript file ga.js that is loaded from Google. This can be done asynchronously so that it doesn’t delay other content from loading. If you’re interested in viewing ga.js in a readable form, take a look at the debug version.

Most people who use Google Analytics are happy to install it on their site, on each page or in a common footer. After some data has been collected on visitors they can view the reports. But by making it a downloadable file, Google has retained the ability to enhance it seamlessly and add new features. You can track ecommerce activities (if enabled) and record a particular event, such as when a pull down is activated. It track clicks of Facebook like and Twitter buttons on your website pages, or even the viewing of individual items through custom variables.

However, a really useful feature is to provide User Timings to let you measure the site speed. As with the other customizations, it needs some JavaScript coding to to get the best out of it but it is quite flexible.

Examples of timings use can include tracking the time it takes for JavaScript adverts from third party sites to appear, or how long Ajax calls take to happen. It’s also possible to track how long a visitor spends watching a video, how long it takes to complete a level in a game, and how long a visitor spends reading a section of a website.

This is a topic I’ll revisit in the Web Game series.

Comments

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