The speed with which your pages load can be hugely important, not only in terms of visitor satisfaction but also where you rank in search engines [see: What is Site Speed and How Does it Affect Google Rankings?]. Therefore, it is vital that all sites keep a close eye on their page load time to ensure that there is no unnecessary lag holding you back.
The good news for website owners is that Google is making it even easier to track site speed.
As well as providing a general overview within Webmaster Tools, you can also now track your daily fluctuations on the new Google Analytics platform [see: Measure Page Load Time with Site Speed Analytics Report | Google Analytics Blog].
As previously mentioned, the performance of a website isn’t just about achieving rankings (or at least avoiding penalties). It is about providing your visitors with a user-friendly navigation and generally offering a good experience. With the integration of this report into Analytics, you will be able to accurately compare a number different factors to determine the cause of issues and improvements.
For instance, if your bounce rate suddenly increases there are a number of possible factors that could cause this:
•Your landing page(s) might be broken
•Content changes may have disrupted the layout
•The page may have taken too long to load
It’s reasonably easy to test the first two of these; however, it’s not always straightforward to independently check site speed. This is particularly true if you’re using a computer that regularly accesses it, as, more likely than not, it will be cached and load swiftly – regardless of any issues.
Therefore, by integrating a site speed report within Analytics, Google are making it far easier to keep an eye on all potential factors. This should enable a more accurate diagnosis when problems do arise and hopefully help you to take swift action.
If you do discover that your site is taking too long to load and require a remedy, we have created a comprehensive guide on How to Speed Up Your Website. If images are playing a large part in the reduced performance of your pages I would also recommend reading our guide on Reducing Image Size on Websites.