Get Ready for Rush Hour – Site Speed Available for All

Posted on 04. Jan, 2012 by in Digital Marketing, Stats & Trends

Speed.  It is important.  Whether you are starring across from Sandra Bullock in a film about a bomb on a bus or trying to retain visitors on your e commerce site.  Speed is important.

Long gone are the days of dial up patience… we want everything and we want it now.  Site Speed is key to the visitor experience of a website.

Site Speed is also an important part of the algorithmic ranking signal for natural search and a quality score signal for paid search.  So, as a webmaster, why not evaluate it and understand how and where to improve your site?

As modern internet marketers, we spend a great deal of time and money driving qualified traffic through multi channel, blended campaigns.  What is the point of the dynamic, synergistic strategies if when the visitors arrive; they are confronted with a slow, poorly performing website?

According to a report published by Akamai Technologies: “Findings indicate 47% of consumers expect an ecommerce page to load in two seconds or less.” The report goes on to say that “40% of shoppers will wait no more than three seconds before abandoning a retail or travel site.”   This impact can even be felt in long term loyalty of customers to both on‐line and bricks and mortar stores with 79% of online shoppers who experience a dissatisfying visit claiming they are less likely to buy from the same site again and 27% saying it would make them less likely to visit a physical store.

Therefore, constantly understanding, evaluating and optimising your site performance ties directly into visitor retention and as a by-product conversion rate.  It builds a confidence and trust when a website works accurately and quickly without hindrance.

Google Analytics have recently announced that they are extending the site speed reports with more metrics, accessed within the new technical section of the site speed interface.  Previously, the on-page code implementation had to be amended to ensure that Google Analytics recorded the data, but now it is automatically enabled straight out of the box.  Google uses a fixed 1% sampling of your site visitors to make up the data pool from which all the site speed metrics are derived.

The technical section tab provides details on the networks and server metrics.  Similarly, the additional sections of the performance tab, show summaries for each of these metrics.  It is possible to evaluate the following network and server metrics in the technical section:

  • Average Redirection Time – The time spent in redirection prior to fetching the page.
  • Average Domain Lookup Time – The amount of time spent in DNS lookup for a page.
  • Average Server Connection Time - The time needed for the user to connect to your server.
  • Average Server Response Time – The time for your server to respond to a user request.
  • Average Page Download Time - The time to download your page.

When taking the time to evaluate these new metrics, look to understand why certain site operations are slower and ensure to put tests in place to track if changes made, lead to improvements.

Another additional way to evaluate site speed, is to utilise the Geo Location and browser type performance segments.  This may alert you to the fact that pages will need optimised to perform better on a specific browser or for a specific country or region.

As Google Analytics continue to announce new and improved functions, we are given access to a broader and deeper data set than ever before, gaining insights into how visitors experience sites and how they convert.  This ever more granular data will allow us to take the foot off the pedal without Dennis Hopper and his perfectly executed plan rocking the bus.

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