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How to Measure Your Site's Performance through Google Analytics

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Bar and pie chartToday we're going to discuss about site performance measurement. Wait, we're not talking about visitors and page views. Website's performance implies how fast it is and how healthy is your web server. It also includes your site's performance under different conditions when it is experiencing significant load during peak times. We'll try to find some ways to measure these technical aspects related to website's performance in terms of speed and stability. Fortunately, Google analytics is quite flexible and gives you enough options to create your own custom reporting dashboards that can be populated with desired metrics which are normally not available in general reports. So let's get started and see how we can measure our site's health through Google analytics in an effective way. You can use these reports to detect and optimize your site's performance related plugins and code.

Bar and pie chart

Although you can get site's performance report in a content section of standard reports, it takes a small sample of traffic and web pages to give you approximate performance figures. To get the real picture, you must devise a way to get critical performance related reports for all the traffic received during a given duration. For that, we can create a custom dashboard that will collect this data for every single page view.

So without wasting any more time, let's dig in to create a custom dashboard filled with site's performance data. To create a custom report simply select the site profile and click 'Home' tab on top. Thereafter, click Dashboard → New Dashboard. From here on, we will start adding site's performance related widgets to populate our custom dashboard with relevant data.

Average Page Load Time

Page load time is an important metric that gives you an idea of how fast your web pages are rendered at visitors' browsers. Visitors use different types of browsers and access your website through different internet connections with varying speed. So this metric can fluctuate on a daily basis and may not give you the true picture of how fast your pages are opening at the other end. Despite this fluctuation, one cannot ignore the importance of this metric as it helps in detecting the alarming increase in page load times.

Analytics report - Average page load time

To access this data, click 'New Widget' and select the metric tab as shown in the image above. Choose the average page load time metric and give a proper name to the widget. In this case, you can use the same name of the metric as it is meaningful and relevant. The last field can be filled with the desired phrase that accurately describes the widget.

Remember, although your general pages may be loading in very less time, still you may see high page load time in this report. There's no need to panic about that unless the time is unusually very high. These high load times are due to the fact that almost every blog has some long list posts containing tons of graphics that contributes in inflating the load times while calculating the average for the entire traffic.

Average Server Response Time

Sometimes incorrectly configured web server combined with poor hardware infrastructure results in sluggish site performance. In such cases, caching technologies are of no help and things get worse if you're not able to detect this shortcoming. Server response time measures how quickly a server responds to a client's request. In simple words, this metric tells us how fast a server announces its own and the requested object's availability to the visitor's browser.

Analytics report - Average server response time

To get this data in your custom dashboard, select the metric shown in the image above and give it a proper title. Server response time of less than a second is considered extremely fast but if it's over one second, you must talk with your web hosting provider about the same.

While analyzing this metric, you should take short time frames preferably mid-week days to know how well your server responds during high traffic days. If this average time is under half a second, your web server is in top notch condition and is configured properly for maximum performance.

Average Mobile Page Load Time

Various studies have suggested that mobile traffic is increasing every year by leaps and bounds. That's why large numbers of webmasters are implementing responsive designs to give better browsing experience to this segment of traffic. It's very important to track how well and fast your site's pages are loading on a mobile device or on a tablet. The following metric provides you with an average page load time for your site's mobile traffic.

Analytics report - Average mobile page load time

If you look carefully at the image shown above, you'll find that a filter has been used to exclude non-mobile traffic. In almost all cases, your site's average mobile page load time will be slightly higher than the normal page load time as mobile data speed is significantly lower than desktop connections in almost every country.

Advanced users can also filter this traffic for individual mobile device brand or model. For example, you can set your filter only to report load times for iPhone models. If you're getting a lot of visitors from tablet devices, you can filter them out too.

Average Domain Lookup Time

Sometimes, your site's performance may suffer due to incorrect or improper DNS configuration that hinders name resolving in a timely manner. This stalls web page loading and negatively affects your site's performance. The following metric tells you how quickly your domain name's server IP is resolved so that request for data is sent quickly by the browser. If domain lookup is not working properly, your visitors may experience latency at the beginning of page loading.

Analytics report - Average domain lookup time

Remember, this time should be very low and anything above 1/10th of a second is poor performance as far as domain lookup time is concerned. If this time is above 0.20 seconds, you must talk with your web host or domain registrar (whoever is providing name servers) to resolve this latency in lookup times.

Instead of checking this metric for long time durations, you must take a shorter data set for peak times to analyze how well nameservers are resolving your domain name's server IP address because this time is added to the overall page load time. You may also check this metric whenever your site receives massive traffic from social media sites.


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