Google Analytics is a popular and powerful tool that allows you to analyze audience behavior on your website. However, it’s important to understand how Google Analytics page performance overhead will affect the user experience on your site. In this post, we’ll explore how it impacts page speed load time, so you can make an informed decision to use it or find an alternative.
Why is Google Analytics so popular?
There is a lot to like about Google Analytics. It’s a free service loaded with features and is highly customizable. If you use other Google services, you can use a single “Google tag” to integrate those services with your website. It’s no surprise that Google Analytics owns about 75% of the web analytics market share in 2022, per Statista.
The hidden cost
To test Google Analytics, I installed the official “Site Kit” WordPress plugin by Google on my FireflyWP WordPress instance. Site Kit automatically adds the Google Analytics “tags” to your WordPress home page. To their credit, Google made the setup super easy.
I verified Google Analytics was set up correctly and recording traffic. I then opened my browser developer tools and fully reloaded the site. Here is a screenshot with all the Google Analytics requests outlined in red:
Google on Google Analytics
Google has an excellent tool called PageSpeed Insights to measure your page load performance. I used it to test FireflyWP with and without the Google Site Kit plugin activated. Here are the results:
Google Analytics Enabled
Google Analytics Disabled
When Google Analytics was added, site performance dropped 5%, and the page took an additional 300ms to load. Again, it’s alright if you have high-speed internet, but it will be an easily perceptible difference at lower data speeds.
Even Google seems to think Google Analytics is an opportunity to reduce your page load time! 😉
If you want to learn how to use PageSpeed Insights to diagnose other performance issues, you can read my WordPress Performance Part 1 article here.
There are alternatives if performance is important to you and you’re willing to pay for an analytics solution. As a bonus, they are privacy-first and GDPR-compliant. The cons are they cost money and won’t be as full-featured as Google Analytics.
I am happy with the stats Plausible provides:
- General visitors and pageviews
- Where visitors are coming from
- Top pages
I think that’s good enough.
Plausible is open source, so you could self-host it if you wanted to. BTW, no, I don’t get any kickbacks for recommending Plausible or Simple Analytics.
If site performance and privacy are important, you have alternatives to Google Analytics. Did I miss any other lightweight web analytics services? Let me know in the comments below!