How to measure Site Speed or Web Performance

A very hot topic last year: site speed, web performance, site performance or whatever you want to call it (got better suggestions?). But how do you measure the speed of you own site? There are several tool that can measure the load times of your site, but which one is right?

First of all: what is Site Speed

The speed of a site is the time it takes from the moment a user navigates to your site (for example through a link) until the site is fully loaded and usable. But there are many factors in this period that helps keeping the visitor patient enough to wait for a full load. The first moment is the moment when the browser begins rendering a site: until that moment people have to look at a white screen where nothing happens. Then the site starts to appear on the screen bit by bit until he is usable. And the last stage is where all the images are loaded to make the site look complete.

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Google Analytics visits per page

What do you do if you want to know how many people visited a specific part (single page or subfolder) of your website? Very often people want to know this so they can report about it. A company can have multiple business units that all have their own subfolder on the company website, and they all want to know what their pages did. Or a campaign manager wants to know how many visits his action page attracted.

The first guess for most people would be to create this report with the Google Analytics Custom Report function:

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How to prevent Google Analytics sampling data

We all know the horrible sign in Google Analytics that looks like this:

You want to analyze a bunch of data but because of that sign you know it will be sampled (incomplete) data. So, what is "sampling" exactly and how can you prevent it.

What is sampling

After Google Analytics gathered the raw unaggregated data that is being tracked by the tracking script it processes it to understandable and useful visit data. And with that visit data all available standard reports are pre-calculated and stored. That means for example that if you try to get the "Top Content" report, Google Analytics can show it to you in seconds because most of the calculations are already done.

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