How to Track Google Analytics Site Speed: Load Time ‘Zero’

How to Track Google Analytics Site Speed: Showing Load Time as Zero?
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Getting content out there has to be one of the most exciting things. However, what’s even better is knowing that people conveniently have access to the content that probably took hours of work, a lot of thought and editing. Back in the day, when we were limited by specific web browsers that were generally slow, the waiting period was expected. However, in the past decade, we’ve had innovations and additions that have made site loading speed faster. Tracking your Google Analytics site speed can make all the difference.

Have you ever toiled through the night, done your research and uploaded a week’s worth of findings to find out the website’s conversions were low? You wouldn’t be the first, that’s for sure. Even worse, have you followed all the SEO demands, made it to the first search page, but after comparing the number of views to what you had the previous week, they were discouragingly low?

It may be no fault of yours; sometimes, everything else is right, and what’s causing all the trouble is the web page’s site speed. The good news is that if you have Google Analytics tracking on your device, you can now monitor how fast the web page loads. Even more, there are various ways you can use Google Analytics to improve your small business.

Google Analytics site speed gives insight into the site’s audience, the content, conversions, and load time. Keeping tabs on the amount of time your website takes to load is essential, especially if the website is to maintain and attract new audiences. So, what exactly is this Google Analytics site speed function? Let’s find out below.

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Google Analytics Site Speed – What is it?

How to Track Google Analytics Site Speed: Showing Load Time as Zero?
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Many don’t know that site speed mostly impacts the number of people who visit a website. The reason is simple; people are impatient. We could say technology has spoilt us, but not many want to wait around for a page to load. That’s where Google Analytics site speed comes in; it provides a full report on the website, which helps content producers keep track of the site speed. 

It allows you to see how fast the site loads for actual users, making all the difference. How slow or fast a webpage loads could make the difference between how many people clicked on the link and how many waited long enough to access its content. 

Google Analytics gives users an up to date and extensive report on the metrics of their webpage. It also shows how fast the webpage loads on your device and other devices as well. Of course, this is because site speed varies across countries, time zones and even devices. The site could load fast on your computer, but the metrics might show inequality across multiple devices. 

Factors That Affect Page Load Speed

People use different browsers, internet service providers and hosts. These are the factors, among others, that influence how fast or slow a web page might load. A more tedious and time-consuming way of finding out if users who visited your webpage found the load-time fast or slow is merely asking them. However, one must consider how many are willing to give such analytics feedback and how accurate it is. 

Calculating the site speed using Google Analytics is essential because you may be putting out all the right content, but its conversion rate seems stagnant. Most times, the people click on the website but just don’t wait around long enough for the web page to load. Fortunately, Google Analytics provides a simple yet thorough report that shows the dimensions and metrics that may be influencing viewer conversions. 

Since the site speed shows how fast and convenient users can interact with your site’s content, it’s essential to check them regularly. 

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Why is Site Speed Important?

Studies have shown that people are less willing to wait around for a website to load. It’s easier to wait in a queue for your favourite taco, or at a store for Black Friday sales. However, when it comes to waiting for a website to load, that patient attitude is set aside. This fact makes no difference for websites that load within two or three seconds, but it’s bad business for pages that take their sweet time. 

Here’s the thing, most big brands have already taken advantage of tools like Google Analytics when tracking site speed – this is what gives them an edge. Yet, many small businesses are still struggling and wondering why their audience is dwindling and their sales, plummeting.

People now expect almost instant responses to web browsing; the lag time is one factor that mainly influences the website’s bounce rate. For people who understand the business, you’ll know that the number of conversions matter. Two or fifteen people who bailed before the site fully loaded could have made a difference for your ROI. 

If you have confidence in the product you’re selling, then people need to stick around long enough to see and get to know about those products. The relationship between the lag time and site conversions was so glaring that in 2010 Google announced that they’d be adding a new algorithm to their web search function, which would boost mobile search speed. 

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Other Factors Linked to Site Speed

Yes, site speed is not all there for SEO marketing, but it’s a vital factor. Other factors, like the website content being relevant to the search query, is undoubtedly more important.

What’s the point of site speed if your webpage is not visible, right? Well, it still stands true that once you add the speed feature to the site when people do eventually click on it, the load time won’t end up chasing them away. 

And it’s not just that, apart from increasing the bounce rates for your site, it would also lead to possible lowered rankings on the Google search page.

So, while you’re worried about SEO marketing, adding keywords, or placing ads on your website, it’s essential to equally optimise the amount of time each webpage takes to load. Doing this should directly influence the viewers’ experience. 

The Basic of Google Analytics Site Speed

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There is a group of metrics used to track the speed and performance of your website. If you’re experiencing slowed conversions rates, these metrics are suitable for monitoring your weak points’ site.

However, if you don’t understand what each metric stands for, it’s almost useless to use them to tackle the audience’s interaction with your site. It can get a bit technical, but don’t be discouraged if you aren’t that tech-savvy. Learning what each metric represents is quite straight forward once you understand the basics. All the terms will be simplified so you can understand the essential functions of tracking site speed.

Average Page Load Time

The average page load time calculates the average time in seconds that a page takes to load. This time is calculated once a user clicks on the website link until the web page completely loads on the user’s browser. This metric is crucial because it shows the entire timeline between the time the webpage is clicked until when it has finished loading. It’s also the most comprehensive.

Many think that a page will take longer to load if it has more content on it (graphics, pictures, videos, and extensive writing). That’s not always the case; your site’s content won’t always determine the load time. Also, consider factors like if the site redirects before loading the actual web page or server-side calls. As mentioned earlier, the users’ location, internet speed or network connection could also influence the site speed. 

Average Server Response Time

The average server response time calculates the average amount of time it takes for the website to respond to the page’s interactions. The average server response time is also calculated in seconds and estimates how fast the page responds to activities like a user clicking through other website provisions.

For example, a website with an About us page and a Contact us page, get regular interactions from the audience viewing the site. Among other functions, once the ‘About Us’ is clicked, the average server response calculates how fast the site responded to that function. The users’ network and location also matter for this metric. 

Average Page Download Time

The average page download time is different from the average page load time; the former is less. Downloading a file from a page represents just a fragment of the total page that was loaded.

To make it simpler, once the web page (HTML) is done loading, there are still other things that continue loading even when the web page is up. You may have noticed that even after your website, that is, the (DOM) has loaded completely, the picture or video take some more time to appear on the screen. 

That’s why images, stylesheets, videos, and other graphics that make a longer load are not measured with the metric average page load time. Once the HTML loads completely and stops, the average page load time is calculated. That makes average page download less than average page load time; the former simply represents a portion of the latter. 

Average Domain Lookup Time

This function may be a bit more complicated, but it is also part of the site speed metrics. It calculates how long the viewers’ browsers take to locate your website’s IP address (Domain). The calculation happens before the website even starts loading and takes more time if the content is sourced from different domains. It may not be a priority for many but comes in handy if you’re switching web hosts. 

Average Server Connection Time

How to Track Google Analytics Site Speed: Showing Load Time as Zero?
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Right after the domain lookup is complete, the server connection time is then calculated. It’s a small metric that calculates how long the server connects the web page’s IP address with your device’s IP address. 

Average Document Interaction Time

What you are concerned about is people viewing the content of your website. That’s part of what this metric does. This is partly because it only measures the amount of time it takes for a web page to interact. To explain further, when the HTML is loading, there are some functions like the text a user has access to and can interact with when the page is still loading. 

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How to Track/Monitor Google Analytics Site Speed

Any business or brand owner wants to make sales; whether it’s the sale of actual products, news, stories or other content, you need to have a website. Traditional marketing is still very efficient, but with online marketing, ads and social media presence, the brand stands a better chance. 

How do you know how many people visit your page? Even more, how do you track and fix bounce offs? How efficient is the user interaction experience on your website? And how fast does the site take to load? These are questions anyone with a marketable online presence, online businesses or brands should answer. From the avid blogger to big brand names, tracking and monitoring the site speed via Google Analytics will put you ahead of the game.

After all, how do you fix an issue you know nothing about? Well, keep reading to gain more insight into how to monitor Google Analytics site speed from your desk’s comforts.

Steps to Take

Once you have Google Analytics on your site, sign in to get started. Go to the left side of the screen, open ‘Report’ then click on Behaviour. You’ll see site speed right under site content, click on it. It will open up a menu that includes page timings, speed suggestions, user timings, etc. From this menu, you can track and monitor metrics like server connection time, average server response time, DNS redirection time and final page load time. 

The overview report even provides detailed information on how the website speed has performed over time. You can view these reports hourly, so there’s explicit knowledge of the specific pages or regions with the best and worst page loading times. Tracking these metrics will show any changes that have ensued after you have added new features or tweaked things for better results.

Here’s the thing, Google Analytics primarily reports on a sample size of the total audience interacting with your website. This is good news for big brands or businesses that have a broad audience. However, for small businesses or bloggers who are just starting, there might not be much to work with when using it.

However, the good news is that Google can be configured to increase the sample size it uses to track speed. It can be increased to 100% for people who are just starting up and don’t have many views per page. Here’s how to optimise Google Analytics to suit your daily audience. 

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How to Change the Site Speed Sample Rate

If you want to tweak the quality and quantity of the received results, simply head to the Google Tag Manager. If it’s not already running on your device, set it up, it’s more productive to manage, track and monitor via Google Analytics.

You’ll have a tracking code that will be updated, depending on the version running per time. Once that’s all set up, more useful functions can be added to the site to improve tracking. 

Testing the Page Speed Data

After you have optimised the site speed sample rate to 100, there’ll be a full report on all the web pages’ visits. It will show how many people clicked on the website, and the number of people who waited long enough to load. It will also analyse how fast the on-site interactions take so that you can track user-experience.  

Why Load Time Would Be Showing As Zero

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Now here’s a challenge that has come up many times; after setting up Google Analytics, it starts tracking speed site rates and then boom, the average load time reads zero. Immediately you are wondering, what did I do wrong?

Here’s the thing, some of these advanced online tools we use to drive sales or improve user experience on our sites are pretty straightforward and maybe that’s the problem. 

Let’s retrace our steps a bit, so the concept of site speed tracking is well understood. Google Analytics tracks metrics like page load time, domain lookup time, page download time, etc. This data is sourced from the website traffic and is shown in ‘Behaviour’ under-reporting.

We have already talked about how important speed is for any online website, brand, or business. So, an error in reporting could lead to unnecessary tweaking when there was no real issue in the first place.

How is this possible? As stated earlier, the Google Analytics Tool uses a code to select a sample from which to collect data randomly. It’s from this sample that metrics like average page load time is calculated.

Here’s the thing, Google Analytics collects at a fixed rate for all websites. This function benefits websites with vast audiences like WebMD or CNN; there’s no doubt that at least thousands click on such sites every day. 

So, what is this percentage that puts websites with growing, yet small audiences at a disadvantage? Google Analytics processes data at a fixed rate of 1%, which is fair, as 1% should give users a good representation of their overall data.

That’s not all; most modern browsers like Google Chrome, Firefox 7+, Android 4.0, Internet Explorer 9+ and others in their class support HTLM5 Navigation Timing Interface. 

Case Scenario

However, not all browsers accept to send this kind of data to Google Analytics, especially older versions. Since the data from these sites are collected at random, and just 1% is selected from those random sites, this can affect the overall result.

Let’s take this as an example, lets’ say your website gets 150 to 200 views a month, and you use the Google Analytics tool to gather information on the average page load time. The Goggle Analytics tool starts collecting information at random, only from sites that authorise it and presents a full report on just 1% of the selected sample. This makes the chances of receiving actual data very small, or as the GA tool reports it, zero. 

Even if you get 100 hits on the website daily, this still won’t make a significant change. There might be a chance of getting a random average like 42.9 seconds for the page load time if your audience exceeds 100,000 per day.

How Do You Solve This? 

Well, as it was stated above, the best chance you have at improving those numbers and curtailing the GA tool to work even with the small amounts is to configure the system. You have to set the siteSpeedSampleRate from 1 to 100.

How do you change the sample speed rate to 100? Simply go to tag settings and click on ‘Enable overriding settings in this tag,’ It will then show options like ‘field to set’ and field name. Set the field name to siteSpeedSampleRate and then increase the value to 100. Save the changes then add the Google tags to your website so it can start tracking.

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How to Track Google Analytics Site Speed: Conclusion

In the business world, time is everything; time is money. The big edge brands have overgrowing businesses, while the latter is tracking followers and viewership; the former is tracking time.

Time could make all the difference when you’re looking to boost sales and improve page viewership. However, to get it right, you’ll need a little math and data analysis to tweak the system to your advantage. 

That’s because site speed doesn’t just make the site more user friendly; it equally influences search engine rankings. Google Analytics could provide a full report on your audience, how fast their interactions are on the website, and the amount of time the site takes to load. So, if you’re average page load time is showing zero, don’t sweat it, follow the instructions provided above, and you’ll have the full analytics your website needs to get ahead.

I’m sure this article was helpful if you have any questions or comments, we’d love to read them in the comments section. Don’t forget to share this as well, so many others may need it to pull through.