Needless to say, the website speed is a critical component of the overall site performance. It’s vital to ensure that your site is easily accessible and fast to provide the best possible user-experience & customer satisfaction.
Website speed is also one of more than 200 factors that determine your ranking positions in Google. Hence, improving it would benefit all parties, your visitors and search engines.
Okay, now that you know that speed is an important factor, how would you know which parts of the site are underperforming?
In this post, we’re going to discuss the best tools (in our opinion) to test your website speed and identify possible issues that are causing delays.
But first, let’s take a look at what can these tools do for us:
- Identify content type and size that is causing a delay
- Direct to specific files (e.g. JS & CSS) that need to be minified and/or combined
- Tell whether GZIP compression is enabled
- Guide to scripts, plugins & fonts that are causing delays
- Determine what images need to be optimised and rescaled
- Analyse redirects and DNS lookups
- Identify whether CDN (Content Delivery Network) is used effectively
- Test the loading speed from different locations
- Analyse browser cache
These are just a few of many insights you will get from using these tools.
Let’s now look at the best free website speed testing tools available.
Pingdom is our number 1 tool. It’s also probably one of the most well-known tools out there. They provide valuable insights and recommendations on where delays are coming from & ways to fix them.
The summary section will display your performance grade from 1 to 100, load time, page size and a number of requests.
In the page analysis section, you will be able to identify what type of content is causing delays, how content size is split between different domains, requests by domain and content type.
Further in the report, you will be given a “waterfall” of file requests, which will allow you to see the exact files that are taking longest to load.
The free version allows you to test the speed from 5 different locations.
GTMetrix is another amazing site speed test tool that produces 5 different reports, including PageSpeed, YSlow, Waterfall, Video and Historical report.
With a free and quick registration, you will be able to test your site from 7 different locations with a choice to test on Firefox or Chrome Browser.
GTMetrix uses over 30 factors to determine the score for your site’s performance, such as CDN usage, JS & CSS Minification, DNS lookups, redirects and many more.
Similarly to Pingdom, GTMetrix also generates a “waterfall” report for you to see how much time every file takes to load.
A handy free tool brought by “The Almighty” Google that gives you a performance grade from 1 to 100 (100 being the best). Although it won’t give you the actual loading speed, PageSpeed Insights will give you a list of issues ranging from low to high priority and recommendations on how to fix these.
PageSpeed provides reports for both, mobile and desktop versions of the site.
Other relevant tools from Google:
- Mobile-Friendly Test – Test whether your site is Mobile-Friendly
- Google Resizer – See how your site looks on different devices
The main advantage of WebPageTest is that they allow testing your website speed from over 20 different locations on different browsers.
Although there are often queues to get your website tested, you will receive some very insightful data, including content breakdown, first & repeat views, waterfall report, first-byte time and many more.
To Sum Up
As you can see, there are a number of tools available to gain insights on how well your site is performing. The vast majority of these tools will give you some practical tips & recommendations on how to improve each and every component to achieve a better loading speed.
Some tips to improve your website’s performance:
- Choose a good hosting provider. If using WordPress CMS, we would recommend Siteground or WPEngine.
- Optimise and rescale images
- Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network)
- Implement a Caching Plugin. If on WordPress, we’d recommend using WP Rocket (Paid), W3 Total Cache (Free) or WP Super Cache (Free).
- Optimise Social Sharing Buttons
- Avoid using heavy plugins & videos
- Reduce the number of DNS lookups and HTTP requests
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