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Site Speed: Webmaster Tools VS Analytics


We all know that Google has added site speed as a factor in the rankings.  Google also added site speed to Google analytics (if you don’t have speed data then you need to update your analytics code).

Site Speed the Problem

For a long time now, Google has been showing us in webmaster tools a graph of our site speed and telling us how fast or slow our site is relative to other sites on the web. Please Note: as of November 1st 2012 Google Webmaster Tools does not provide site speed data see announcement

site performance in webmaster tools

Since Google has added site speed tracking in the analytics I have been comparing the two different graph webmaster tools to the analytics.

When I compared them I found that the results did not match and that it was impossible to claim that they were representing the same site.

site speed in us by analytics

The problem got even worse when I divided the traffic up in to traffic from in the US and traffic from outside of the US (segments are a powerful tool).

site speed out of the US by analytics

Please note:

  1. Webmasters tools graph is from the end of April 2011 until the middle of January 2012 and the graphs from analytics are from May 15th 2011 until January 25th 2012.
  2. Webmasters tools graph is based on less the 100 data points and the analytics graph has 1,163 and 895 data points.

I assumed that the discrepancies in the results were from the webmaster tools showing data taken from different places in the world while my clients’ site was only targeting the US. However, this was hard to accept because my Geographic target in webmasters tool was set to the United States.

geographic targeting in webmaster tools

Site Speed the Explanation

Fortunately, I got a chance to ask my question at the SMX Israel conference at a session called “Meet Tomer from Google”

The following is Tomers response to my question:

  1. The assumption that webmasters tools are tracking data worldwide is incorrect. He explained that the Google timing is for that Geographic target only.
  2. Site speed in Google analytics is tracking server side speed and webmasters tools is tracking loading time by a user agent (that includes the site rendering).

Did you get that webmaster tools tracking is more accurate!

Site Speed and Rankings

Tomer also said that as long as your site is not too slow it barely effects the rankings (don’t tack this as a reason not to optimize your site for speed, because it still is a usability issues).

On the other hand, if your site is very slow then it will have a big negative impact on your rankings.

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