Is Google Analytics really slowing down your website?

Analytics are an important tool in any online marketing professional’s arsenal. They track everything from: who is visiting your website, where they are coming from, what device they are browsing with, to the slightly more invasive real-time analytics, and user flow.

User data like this is priceless when it comes to making sure that your website and sales goals are reached, but what if your Google Analytics script is actually slowing down your website? Research has shown that website speed can affect conversions – should you be worried?

While analytics data is great for determining how to enhance your online marketing capabilities, improve user engagement, and visibly defend your work to the big boss, it is also important to gauge how your analytics or other third-party scripts are affecting your overall website performance.

Website performance matters…

..To your Users

Delivering the best possible website experience to your users is a primary concern of any good webmaster or online marketer. And it is important to remember – your users aren’t on your site to be tracked, or advertised at. They are there to engage in your content, or complete some sort of action.

If your website loads slowly, improperly, or inconsistently, it has a big negative impact on your end-users. They’ll likely leave and not return.

..To Search Engines

Search engines, such as Google and Bing, are working hard to ensure that searchers reach websites with the content most useful and relevant to their original inquiries. A major part of their systems for ranking your website in search results relies on testing your site speed and performance. It is in Google and Bing’s best interests to make sure that your website is safe, reliable, and useful, so that people keep searching with them.

If you’re looking to improve your SEO, checking and optimizing your website speed is a great first step. Uptrends Website Monitoring offers a Free Website Speed Test that highlights some of the major first-party elements that may be slowing down your website.

For those of you looking to monitor your third-party scripts, a paid subscription to Uptrends Website Monitoring can track, report, and alert you of performance bottlenecks so you can diagnose a fix.

How third-party scripts typically work

Including third-party scripts into a website makes a lot of sense.

Adding a script can reduce the amount of code that you (or your developers) need to write and maintain, and it places the load directly onto an organization that may have more resources available to focus on making that one element great.

The problem is that these scripts may require a lot of communication from your user’s browser, your server, and the servers that the scripts call to.

For example:

Say we have embedded a third-party script that embeds a video onto your webpage. In order for that video to play, several things must happen (and it could be more depending on the way the script is set up on the third-party side):

  1. User browser loads the webpage with the embedded video script. The user clicks the “play” button.
  2. The user’s browser sends a message to the video provider’s server asking for the video file.
  3. The video provider’s server puts a call out to another server to determine the location of the video file.
  4. The video provider’s second server sends a message back to the first one with the location of the file.
  5. The video provider’s server then sends the location of the file to the user’s browser.
  6. The user’s browser then puts out a call to the video file location.
  7. The video file is pulled into the user’s browser, and the video begins to play.

That’s a lot of steps. And the truth of the matter is, most of the time, it takes a lot more than just seven steps to complete a script’s actions – especially for data intensive scripts like Google Analytics.

So is Google Analytics really slowing down your website?

Well, it is possible. There is no definitive way of determining whether Google Analytics is the culprit behind a major website performance problem until you regularly gather page performance data, and can see a significant trend.

It is far more likely that your website is slow due to a series of things, including: extraneous code, large image/media files, and slow servers.

But how can you know what is slowing down your site? If only there were a way to monitor your website performance

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