Driving in the Fast Lane to Improved Conversion Rates with Google Analytics’ New Site Speed Metrics
Use the new free feature to spot and optimize pages with longer loading times for better website performance and happier clients
We all rely on the Internet for a huge part of our daily activities: from getting our work done to running personal errands like online banking and shopping. As more and more routine tasks become available online, our expectations on the responsiveness of the websites we’re trying to access have increased drastically. In short, we all hate to wait. Read on, as we show you how to use the site speed reports to improve the on-page experience you provide to your clients and improve your conversion rates.
Understanding the technology: Where do I start?
When you log in your Google Analytics account, locate the Content menu. Click on it to expand it and you'll see Site Speed between Site Content and Site Search. Here you can access everything from the average page load time for your site to individual page load times.
The information comes from a sampling of 1% of the site visitors by default, though you can adjust this. You'll see the sample size for each specific page. Note that if you have a site with less traffic, you might see disturbingly high load times in some areas. Check if you have lower load times overall, as the sample size for some of the pages may be too small and thus provide inaccurate results. The 1% sample works well for sites with more than a few thousand users. So the more visitors your website gets, the more precise statistics will show on your report page.
Understanding the numbers: How do I know if my site is fast or slow?
First, the good news. Being a Productive CMS client immediately gets you on the fast track, thanks to our advanced Content Delivery Network (CDN). It is designed to load your content faster than traditional hosting solutions. Read our blog post on this to learn how relying on Productive CMS gets you literally ahead of competition.
But let’s get realistic. You will notice that even though you’ve used the same design and platform for all of your pages, many of them show different load times. Relying on technology alone is not enough. You have to take into account the content you load on your pages, your visitors’ location, the type of operating system and browsers that they use.
There are several attention thresholds in terms of an average visitor’s expectation for a page to load. According to a recent study* 40% of all visitors will wait no more than 3 seconds before abandoning a site, while online shoppers will wait no more than 2 seconds before getting frustrated. Google sets the bar even higher, considering anything longer than 1.5 seconds slow loading time.
If your Site Speed reports show that some of your pages are slower that the recommended response time numbers, do not get discouraged. Statistics should not be taken all black and white. Loading times affect us differently, based on where we are in the process of exploring a website. For example, all entry pages like landing pages, the home page, search results, and the product catalog really need to be fast. Slow loading times on those pages may have a significant impact on client experience and conversion rates.
On the other hand, once a visitor has decided to complete a purchase and has started the checkout process, slower response time is more tolerable. There is no need to worry if your login process takes even 5 or 6 seconds to complete, or if it takes 10 or 15 seconds to finalize the conversion.
Understanding the possibilities: How do I optimize my page load speed for increased conversions?
First start with optimizing your entry pages. As we mentioned above, your home and landing pages need to be really snappy. To keep them fast, get rid of the clutter. Do not use large images or galleries on those pages. It is strongly recommended to switch off the auto-play mode on your audio or video files as it may slow down a page significantly. Make sure to always scale the photos before uploading them to your product catalog. If you have the photos already uploaded and want a quick fix, then use the integrated Picnik editor that we provide free of charge, rather than using Productive CMS’s built-in editor to drag and resize them. You will make them fit on the page, but it won’t decrease their actual file size. Minimize the number of steps needed to accomplish a conversion to speed up the checkout process.
Another thing to consider is the location of the most important part of your audience. Google also shows the load time by region, so you can drill down and see how fast pages load anywhere in the world. If you serve mainly non-US audience, you should really take the time to check this report. You can also switch to the convenient Map Overlay tab of the report for a visual representation of the data. To help our customers with international client base, Productive CMS, unlike many other platforms, is not US-centric in terms of connectivity. Our CDN is a network of servers around the world, each of which has a copy of your website. Whenever a user loads your site, the files will be automatically sent from the server that is nearest to the user.
Is your website targeted at senior audience? Then make sure your pages load fast on older versions of the different operating systems and browsers. You can access this information by selecting the Technology option on the Secondary dimension drop-down menu.