Ever since we replaced the headache of dial-up internet with the speed of broadband, web users have started to grow less forgiving of slow websites. If your pages don't load within a couple of seconds, then there's a good chance you'll lose both the attention, and respect of your customers. On top of that, since Google uses speed as a key ranking factor for its search engine algorithm, a slow website could mean that you lose your chance to rank at the top of the result pages.
According to marketing experts, speed can have a huge impact on your profitability, and it could even convince your users that your brand isn't professional, or trustworthy enough to deserve their custom. The good news is that as the focus on page speed has grown, so too has the number of resources available online today, that make it easier for businesses to check their online performance against several key factors such. These "speed tests" look at things like:
- Whether plugins, scripts and fonts might be causing loading issues
- How large image files could be causing bottlenecks in your data
- Checking performance from different locations around the world
- Uncovering rendering speed across different browsers
- Measuring performance in a content delivery network
- Establishing that assets can load correctly from servers
Here, we'll take a look at just five of the most popular free tools for webmasters to use when they want to stay ahead in the loading speed race.
Pingdom is a simple and effective online tool used by some of the biggest brands on the web, including Spotify and Twitter. The free version of this tool allows you to analyse your website on a European or North American server, but not a UK server. Once you've entered your URL information, you'll receive a range of statistics, including details on loading time, and page size. The tab titled "performance grade" will show you how your website performs according to a range of issues like caching problems and poor requests.
One interesting aspect of the Pingdom speed test tool, is that it allows you to set alerts for your website that will inform you when major or unexpected changes are made to your website. For instance, you'll be informed when your server randomly goes offline. These alerts can be sent straight to your inbox, so you can respond immediately when a problem occurs.
You know that a tool is good when it comes from Google. "PageSpeed Insights" is the main technology resource behind many of the speed testing tools that are available on the web today. Google's speed insight tester gives a page a ranking out of 100, along with recommendations on how each website might be able to improve their scores more effectively. Because the tool is designed and maintained by Google, there's also a good chance that you can rely on this resource to give you an insight into how your speed effects your ranking.
The section for "mobile analytics" in Google PageSpeed Insights is particularly useful for dealing with issues that might go unnoticed for developers who spend most of their time managing desktop systems. The tool will also show you a basic emulation of how your website will appear on a smaller screen too.
Yet another popular speed tool that's brimming with features and analytics to improve your site speed, GTMetrix combines data from two different speed tests, including YSlow, and Google PageSpeed, to give you a more powerful view into your site performance. The summary you receive will include a breakdown into everything that you need to know about your website loading process, including your image dimensions. Additionally, the report comes with useful tips that explain recommendations on how you can make your website more effective for both desktop and mobile users.
One unique element of GTMetrix is that you can access different suggestions for your website depending on the CMS system you use. For instance, if you run a website on Magento, then you might get a different collection of tips than if you were to run your website on WordPress, and so on. You can also download the full report into a PDF file, which you can share with developers or auditors who are helping you to improve your website performance.
If you're looking for a simple and effective way to address your website speed problems, then Pagescoring.com could be the perfect solution for you. The quick analysis tells you how fast a page can load, as well as the size of each page, and the connection speed for the server. The report will also produce a list of times showing you exactly how long each of your pages takes to load, so you know which parts of your website are more problematic than others.
The primary benefit of this particular resource is that it simplifies the ability to diagnose problems with individual files, including scripts and images that might impact the speed and loading time of pages. This could be particularly helpful for you if you don't want to go through your entire website making changes before you start to see results.
Finally, WebpageTest is the other side of the coin to Pagescoring.com, offering a highly technical speed testing tool that's used most often by professional web developers. The tool will show you information about each of the files, content types, and connection requests made by your website, which can be fantastic for helping you to determine what exactly is causing the unexpected delays in your page loading experience.
WebpageTest is a largely customisable tool that comes with a range of different variables to check and test. Any website can easily be tested from countless servers around the world, which is great for people who like using multi-national websites. Additionally, you can use the same tool to check out the functionality of iOS and Android speeds too.