Speed is of the essence

Yesterday I mentioned the increasing importance which is going to be attached to having a fast-loading site in the future. Immediately I came across two interesting related bits of news.

Firstly, Google has released a new tool to measure the speed of your site, as explained in How fast is your site? on the Google Webmaster Central blog. You’ll need to have activated Google Webmaster Tools (which you have done, I hope), and it’s under the “Labs” heading. With this report, Google will show you how fast your pages load, how they’ve fared over time, how your site’s load time compares to that of other sites, examples of specific pages and their actual page load times, and “page speed suggestions”. A really useful innovation, which has just told me I could do a bit better with the website for this blog, and it’s given me some suggestions how.

Secondly, over on the Google Analytics blog, they’ve announced some significant changes to how we should all implement Google Analytics in Google Analytics launches asynchronous tracking. You might want to forward this to whoever manages the code on your website. To summarise, however, if you run Google Analytics, all your pages will currently have an invisible piece of code at the very bottom. Now Google has worked out a way to allow you to put the code at the top of the page. Why is this important? Well, if your pages load slowly, and the Google Analytics code is at the end, it’s possible that the reader will have done something before the code loads. Which means the actions don’t get recorded. If you can move the code to the top, it’ll get over that problem. It’s not something you must do, just a recommendation that you might want to follow.

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