I’d written earlier about Google discontinuing support for Universal Analytics and migrating everyone to GA4. Unfortunately for most of us, we can’t replace Google Analytics just yet, even though plenty of solutions offer overlapping functionality. But one area where we’ll have to look for an alternative is in measuring site speed.
Right now, Google Analytics has a report called “Site Speed”, where you can get speed-loading metrics for pages on your site. Here’s a screenshot of the site speed report for WP-Tweaks.com:
Even though, by default, Google Analytics only measured a random sample of 1% of pageviews, you could increase the sample rate to 100% and thus force Google to measure all pages on your site that had the Google Analytics snippet. It was perfect for getting an in-depth report of which pages on your site were slow while debugging various metrics like server response time.
But GA4 strips us of all that.
GA4 Doesn’t Have a Site Speed Report
Opening the GA4 dashboard, you can see that it doesn’t have a separate report for Site Speed:
The documentation shows that Google has flat-out decided to drop this feature from the upcoming GA4. Either they felt that people weren’t using it enough or that it was too much effort to maintain. Who knows!
So after the migration, those who relied on this report are SOL. What can those of us who like this report do instead?
Cloudflare Web Analytics has a Free Site Speed Report
I’d written earlier about using Cloudflare Web Analytics to measure Core Web Vitals accurately. It’s a great and free solution that relies on real-time data from users instead of calculating the values from a tool as PageSpeed Insights and web.dev do. However, there’s more! It has a page speed report from where you can look up metrics like loading speed, server response times, and more.
Here’s the page speed report from the Cloudflare Web Analytics dashboard:
You can choose the range of the dates for the pages whose speed you want to measure. A remarkable feature of the Cloudflare Web Analytics report is that you can click on individual pages and drill down to see metrics for that page alone. Of course, you can do the same thing in Google Analytics, but it’s much faster and seamless with Cloudflare.
In addition to the base loading time, you also get access to other loading metrics, such as the server response time, as shown here:
The numbers from Cloudflare and Google don’t necessarily match up, though. In Cloudflare, if I take the page load time and add in the processing + server response time, I get the final number in Google Analytics. I haven’t dug into the definitions of these terms too deeply, but I’m sure some differences explain the variations.
Cloudflare Measures Response Times Accurately
I would expect Cloudflare’s measurement of server response times to be more accurate than those provided by the older Google Analytics. After all, Cloudflare can directly measure how much time the server took to send back a response to the request. The server response time is closely linked to the Time to First Byte or TTFB, and if you use Cloudflare’s cache reserve with infinite retention, you can bring this number down to less than 500 milliseconds on average. Even lower if you cache absolutely everything.
So while I regret the loss of the site speed functionality in Google Analytics, there’s a readymade alternative in the form of Cloudflare. With this, I won’t miss any of the features I used to have, and the interface is better with superior privacy controls. What’s not to like?
I’m a NameHero team member, and an expert on WordPress and web hosting. I’ve been in this industry since 2008. I’ve also developed apps on Android and have written extensive tutorials on managing Linux servers. You can contact me on my website WP-Tweaks.com!