New: How to Track Page Load Speed in Google Analytics

[Update 12/5/2011] Thanks to Roy (see comments) for reminding me to follow up with this post – as of two weeks ago, the Site Speed report is available by default in the new (v5) version of Google Analytics. No code snippets or special settings are necessary to view the report – just log in and take a look!

I’m excited about the new Google Analytics interface, and not just because it is faster and looks shiny.

The latest significant feature to be announced is the Site Speed Report (officially announced Wednesday), which gives us the ability to track page load time for every page on a website, and then analyze load speed in great detail.

Why Track Page Load Speed?

Site Speed in Google Analytics

First of all, having a fast website can improve rankings, so improving slow pages can have an impact on your organic success. Site speed is an increasingly important ranking factor as Google continues to improve search results with websites that are more useful and user-friendly.

Second, page load speed metrics (in sweet detailed, decimal form) can also be used to improve conversion rates and usability.

Here are questions that Site Speed Reports will help you answer:

  • Of your top 10 highest converting landing pages, which takes the most time to load?
  • Is a certain browser or device experiencing page load problems?
  • What is the relationship between your slowest or fastest loading pages and high or low bounce rates?
  • What pages take the most time to load?
  • Is a certain country or region experiencing speeds that are out of the norm?

How to Turn on Site Speed Reports to Track Page Load Speed with Google Analytics:

It’s really simple. Just locate the Google Analytics JavaScript snippet embedded in your HTML, and add this method just after the line containing the _trackPageview method:

_trackPageLoadTime();

Here is an example in context (default asynchronous snippet):

<script type=”text/javascript”>
var _gaq = _gaq || [];
_gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-XXXXX-X']);
_gaq.push(['_trackPageview']);
_gaq.push(['_trackPageLoadTime']);
(function() {
var ga = document.createElement(‘script’); ga.type = ‘text/javascript’; ga.async = true;
ga.src = (‘https:’ == document.location.protocol ? ‘https://ssl’ : ‘http://www’) + ‘.google-analytics.com/ga.js’;
var s = document.getElementsByTagName(‘script’)[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s);
})();
</script>

For more implementation instructions, or if you’re using a different snippet version than the example above, go ahead and refer to Google’s official Site Speed implementation guidelines.

More Screenshots:

Here are some more examples of the new Site Speed report in the wild. Go implement it on your site and have fun!

 

Site Speed Dashboard

Site Speed Dashboard

 

Page Load Speed by Country

Page Load Speed by Country

 

Page Load Speed in Google Analytics

Load Speed by Page

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6 Comments

  1. says

    Interesting post… although i still don’t understand… Isn’t load time relative to the location from where it is tracked? How does Google cover this? I hope the new GA will shed some light on this…

    • Claye Stokes says

      @Chris, yes to a degree, load speed will be relative to the user’s distance from the server, but there are several on-page factors that can be optimized for better load speed. Some examples are caching, compression, code minification, optimized (and less use of) images, etc. Use Google’s new Page Speed Online tool (http://pagespeed.googlelabs.com/) on your slow pages to see what the biggest on-page obstacles are.

  2. Ian Spencer says

    I for one didn’t know you could do this in GA, so this excellent.

    As page load time is now a factor when ranking, it really is vital every webmaster has access to this information.

    I am now off to add this to our code!

    Cheers Claye,

  3. Roy says

    Just a note for anyone struggling with the code or holding back due to the slight increase in page load time (because of the extra request) – 2 weeks ago Google made the Site Speed feature available to ALL Google Analytics users by default i.e. you no longer have to modify your code and get it whether you like it or not.

    As all Google Analytics accounts now automatically get Site Speed reports, if you had previously added the tracking code script to your site, Google will just ignore it in future and you will continue to get Site Speed reports by default.

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