Recently I was invited to a conference by Google on Google Analytics. Called #GoMeasure for Google Analytics. Overall it was fantastic to see some really small and some larger Melbourne based businesses checking out what Google analytics had to offer and the possibilities that they have for optimising their site.
One of the main things that Google was trying to showcase in this conference was their new layout for Google Analytics. For those of you who don’t use Google Analytics regularly I suggest you start, but likely you will start up with analytics in the old format (Google is slowly moving people over to the new layout), so what you need to do is just click the link on the top of you analytics screen saying “try the new analytics out now”. This will bring up the new analytics layout and get you started with all its new tools and functionality.
One of the greatest insights that I took out from GoMeasure was the page load time which they have just started implementing in the new analytics. This allows you to get an understanding of how long it takes for an average page on your site to load. What makes this a really important aspect of your site to consider is that for every second extra it takes for your page to load. you lose 7% in your conversion rate. So on the glass half full perspective for every second you shave off your page load time, you improve your conversion rate by 7%.
The following are some areas that Google outlines as being common causes of slow load times:
Multi-second meta refreshes
If you have redirects that have a delay set, change the time of that delay to 0 seconds. This will ensure that the redirect will occur straight away, improving the page load time.
The speed of your redirects can have an influence on the page load time. Therefore it is important to firstly check all your redirecting URLs by copy and pasting them and manually timing them, or using a tool like Fiddler.
Cut down the baggage, if there are multiple redirects, streamline it and cut out the middlemen that are slowing everything down.
If you have a waiting or interstitial page, a page that a user waits on before being redirected how about you just send them where they are going to go. Save yourself and extra page to look after and save the user the pain of waiting on a crappy page and being redirected. This can not only improve the user experience, but also improve the load time that Google percieves.
Not all hosts are created equally, especially if you are hosting the site yourself. Consider using Google’s free Webmaster tools to check out how long it takes to get your sites data. If it’s slow talk to your host about speeding it up or look at alternative options.
Large page size
Pages will huge files that browsers need to load means longer page load times. It is always best practice to look at ways of reducing your sites HTML files, especially if they are large. One of the simplest ways of doing this is compressing it with free and open source tools like gzip. With a smaller file to download, a users browser is going to be able to fetch it faster and therefore load the page faster.
All these changes can have very small effects, but it is all simple to implement and if not already done properly should be one of the things considered when further developing your site. Google is continuing to take page load time into account, and with them including it within the Analytics suite it goes to show that Google really is wanting to push this as an important area to work on. So why fight it, Google is giving you a clear ticket on how to optimise your site, and it will create a better user experience that can have a positive effect for you. It’s just common sense, and it has an over-riding positive result for you!