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Ever wondered whether a certain plugin, tip or optimization tool really works as well as you were told? Or does it slow down your website and hold it back? Well, there’s an easy way to find out – these website speed test tools!
They may seem big and scary but most are quite simple to use. And you will have the tools to check whether changes you make increase or decrease your website speed test results.
This list of the top 6 website speed test tools, will help you see how each tool works. And how they can be used to find where you can boost your website speed and thus SEO.
Use these tools to implement changes and then retest those changes with your original score as a baseline. These tools will objectively measure the success of your changes. Which allows you to properly evaluate what works and what doesn’t! No need to rely on what other people tell you!
Here’s Some Extra Information To Help You Get The Most Out Of Your Results
What Does A Website Speed Test Do?
These tools send requests to your website page or any other URL you give it. It processes your request and records how long it takes for the page to load.
Many of the tools listed here also collect other numerous information. Such as the files downloaded, the number of server requests, the total size of the page and a score to grade your URL. Most of these website speed tools will also tell you how fast your score was compared to others.
Why Is Website Speed Important?
It’s vital to know that your page load speed can have a heavy impact on your website’s success based on 2 factors.
Firstly, how long your website page takes to load directly effects whether visitors are likely to bounce or abort the visit to your site. Admit it, we’ve all opened a new webpage only to cancel it when it took too long to load, right?
Secondly, you will rank lower in Google searches with slow page loads. So, long load times are basically bad for your SEO. And no one want’s that right?
What Should I Look Out For?
These website speed tests will give you a lot of information. Enough to give anyone a huge headache if I try to explain everything. We definitely don’t want headaches. So let’s focus on the most important results.
Load time – the lower the better. To start off though aim for 2-3 seconds. Getting below 2 seconds will often be difficult without a fast web host provider.
Page size – smaller is often better, but make sure it’s not at the loss of quality or usability. You’ll need to consider your use of tools, plugins, adverts and images for this. To optimize your images check out this way to Easily Boost Website Speed By Reducing Image Sizes.
Requests – these are the number of resources the page has to fetch. This is everything from images, fonts and even communication between a plugin and external resources. GTmetrix suggests that the average number of requests is 86. Every request adds to your page load time, so always be mindful whether they are worth it. Plugins especially can influence this number, I’ve actually removed a few plugins simply because they added a huge amount!
Also, you should keep in mind that you can often see discrepancies between tests, not just in speed but in page size and requests. This is often cache related. Some files will get stored locally in browsers so repeated visits have less data to download.
Sometimes you will still see differences even if you take into account the cache. For both of these reasons, it’s best to take multiple tests and work out an average.
Now that we have factors to focus on, let’s have a look at the tools themselves.
Website Speed Test Tool #6 – Google PageSpeed Insights
The first on the list is Google’s PageSpeed Insights. This website speed test will do a simple analysis of the URL you give it. Before it returns some basic results – a score for Desktop, Mobile and page speed.
PageSpeed Insights will also give you some custom suggestions on how to improve your score.
Although this tool is from Google, whose SEO is vital for any website that wants to rank in their searches. The tool is quite limited and not particularly user-friendly.
For starters, it does not work straight out of the box. Or at least Page Speed isn’t available unless the Chrome User Experience Report has data to provide one. Which is useless for those with newer websites. Every other tool on this list is able to provide one.
The result information is limited. This might be because it wasn’t able to provide a Page Speed, either way, the information provided is limited. Simple scores and information can often be useful, for those less familiar with such tools. But so little information is actually more of a hindrance in this case.
One of the positive aspects is that it does give us an optimization score for mobile and desktop separately.
Website Speed Test Tool #5 – GT Metrix
Next up, we have GTmetrix. This popular tool has a lot more to offer in terms of statistics.
As you can see below, compared to Google PageSpeed it has more detailed information. Including PageSpeed, YSlow and Waterfall tabs just under your Performance Scores.
Within each tab are score breakdowns and suggestions on how to improve. All of which are ordered in terms of priority and which changes will yield superior benefits. However, most suggestions here are considerably technical. And some website types will find it impractical to implement certain changes.
The history of tests are kept for up to 30days unless you sign up for a free account. So, make sure you take down any information if you want it for future reference.
This is especially handy since GTmetrix has a Compare feature. Which lets you compare up to 4 tests side-by-side.
To do this click Compare from the right-side menu. It will even highlight the differences between scores under the PageSpeed, YSlow and Waterfall tabs. Though Waterfalls can only be compared 2 at a time, due to visual limitations.
Also, worthy of note, is that I often get higher page load speeds here compared to other tools.
Website Speed Test Tool #4 – WebPageTest
Ok, so here’s one that looks a bit more old-school – WebPageTest. Looks can be deceiptive though as it is a robust website speed test tool. One that Google currently uses in their mobile website speed test tool.
This powerful tool has a complex set of options to carefully control your website speed test. However, if you feel they are too complex. You can ignore them, as the defaults are perfect for most cases. So don’t feel like this tool has to be complex, because it doesn’t!
In fact, you can just enter your URL and hit Start Test. The results you get back will be all you need.
One of the best features about WebPageTest is that the default Advanced Testing automatically runs 3 tests. This means you will get increased result accuracy per test.
In the above screenshot, you can also see that this tool provides some unique summary stats. Most of the other tools on this list don’t provide these. But, if you are fairly new to website speed optimization then these may not mean much on their own.
Here’s a quick summary of what these scores are for.
First Byte Time – is how long it takes for the first byte of your site to download. This is often an indication of how good your web host is.
Keep-alive Enabled – Allows the same connection to download multiple files instead of one. Which results in fewer connections overall and faster loads.
Compress Transfer – Often refers to GZIP compression. This compresses files sent from the server to the browser. According to GTmetrix, this can reduce upto 70% of a webpage’s total size. It’s clear that this amount of reduction can potentially have a colossal impact on page loads!
Compress Images – This score is based on how optimized your images are. Compressed images are smaller in size which means faster download times, but there is a balance between compression and image quality. Here’s an excellent method for reducing image sizes. So you can get your images optimized if they aren’t already!
Cache Static Content – Cached content is content that is saved and re-used, rather than freshly downloaded everytime the website is visited. The result – less content needs to be downloaded overall and the page loads faster.
Effective Use of CDN – CDNs (Content Delivery Networks), are used to dynamically serve content to visitors based on their location. For example, if a web server physically closer to your visitor is used. Then, you can load and display the image to them faster compared to if it was sent from a server half-way around the world.
You can even click on each of these scores for a breakdown of why the website speed test gave you a particular score.
Understand What Your Page Is Made Of With Content Breakdowns
What’s also extremely handy is the Content Breakdown which gives you a visual pie-chart of how many requests and data (bytes) the resources use.
If you are not happy with your page load speed. Then I recommend you start here. If images take up the most of your download data. Then optimization of those images will yield substantial results compared to something which utilizes a much lower percentage.
The other useful breakdown this website speed test gives is through the Domains link in the top navigation bar. Here, each URL is broken down into the number of requests and bytes used. This is a great way to spot if certain plugins or services hog the bulk of your resources.
On the other hand, the tool’s scoring of CDN usage is harsh. As you can see below it gave me a black cross score in a previous screenshot. But if I click into this score for more details (another handy feature) the actual score is 78/100. The only content I have that is not served from a CDN is MailerLite’s webform images and some of the base files that make up my WordPress theme.
Oh, and in case you are wondering, the First Byte Time score is due to a delay of 1408ms for the first byte of the page to download. Which is most likely because of my cheap web hosting (Bluehost – I have no idea why so many bloggers recommend them. They are cheap but that’s about it!).
Website Speed Test Tool #3 – Think With Google’s Mobile Speed Test
Think With Google’s Mobile Speed Test is a little bit different from the other website speed tests listed here. Because it focuses purely on the mobile-useability of your site.
You’ve probably heard it a thousand times how important it is to optimize your website for mobiles – since more and more people use smartphones and tablets to browse the web.
So a website speed test that can help you boost your mobile website speed is surely a valuable asset.
And guess what? This is the tool I mentioned earlier that is powered by the WebPageTest tool we covered above! So, you can expect the same reliability here. It even speaks volumes for how powerful the WebPageTest tool is if Google uses it to power one of their tools!
To use it, simply enter the URL of the page you want to test and click the blue arrow button next to it. The tool will take a few minutes to process. Shortly after, you’ll get a few brief summaries for your stats along with the option to request an email report.
Sadly, because the email contains the full report. There is a slight delay before you know all the details. Not to mention, that some of you may prefer not to give your email address. I can totally understand that with todays bombardment of emails! The email report also makes repeat tests rather cumbersome to compare.
Curious how the email looks? Well check this snippet of what I got:
It is also a terrible tool to check your desktop website speed, so you should always use it in conjunction with another website speed test tool. In fact, I recommend Pingdom which we will shortly. So, don’t take my word for it though, try it for yourself!
Website Speed Test Tool #2 – IsItWP
This new website speed test tool by IsItWP is simple to use with powerful insights. That you can use to improve your blog’s loading speed. In fact, all you need to do. Is enter your blog’s URL into the box and click Analyze Website.
The test will take a short amount of time to complete. And then you’ll get some results that look like this:
As you can see, the results focus on the most important aspects of your blog’s speed. Such as load time, page size and the number of HTTP requests.
It also provides you with a performance grade so you can quickly understand how your blog’s loading speed compares in general. As well as how much room for improvement you have.
Now below these results, is the best part. The personalized improvement suggestions!
So based on your results, the IsItWP tool will give you suggestions that you can use to improve your blog’s loading speed. As you can see from this example it has given me 4 areas that I can improve.
You can click on each of these areas to expand for more details. Which you can then use to research how to implement.
Then lastly below this, is the waterfall graph. That shows how each item loaded on your blog’s page.
And that’s all for this website speed test tool. It is amazingly simple but gives lots of important information at the same time. Plus the personalized suggestions are always a massive help. So you can turn the results of the test into action.
Overall, this tool is similar to Pingdom. Which you’ll see when we look at it next.
Website Speed Test Tool #1 – Pingdom
Here we have Pingdom. Again, looks can be deceiving. Whilst it looks more modern than WebPageTest it also looks simple and user-friendly. The only options you have other than the URL is the Test from list. You’ll be surprised by the detailed results it brings back though!
Once the test has run you’ll get the usual summary of stats, like this:
Pingdom has the same charts for resources to represent how they use data, requests and domains. It’s just laid out slightly differently.
Pingdom’s Powerful Waterfall Graphs
There’s even a well-designed Waterfall graph but the wonderful part about Pingdom’s is that you can sort the list, filter it and each item can be clicked on to open more details. If the name of a resource isn’t meaningful. You can click on its link to open it. This is an easy way to identify images.
There is also a small arrow down button at the end of each row of the table, which can be expanded for more technical information. I wouldn’t worry too much about this option though.
If you want to improve your website speed test then this Waterfall graph is a useful place to start. Simply change the Sort by to File size and the largest files loaded with your page will be listed first. These files are perfect for optimizing!
And if you want to focus on reducing image sizes you can even sort resources into File type groups which will group all the images together from largest to smallest. You’d be surprised what files on your webpage are responsible for bloat.
If that isn’t enough you can sort by Load time and see which resources take the longest to load. It makes sense that if you tackle these resources you can significantly cut down on website speed.
Overall, this website speed test tool is one of the simplest to use, but also the most comprehensive and easy to understand. It’s well worth your time to get familiar with this tool over the previous ones in my opinion.
The main aspects that it lacks are mobile tests and comparisons between tests like GTmetrix. With these, the tool would be perfect!
Overview Of Each Tools Benefits
Let’s break down the features of each tool with a quick table! You can easily review each tool and draw your own conclusions if you wish.
|Website Speed Test Tool||Features|
|Google PageSpeed Insights||
|Think With Google Mobile Speed Test||
Here’s The Best Place To Start Your Own Website Speed Test
So there you have it, 6 of the best website speed test tools. Broken down into how they can be used and differ from each other.
Overall, it is a tight call between the tools WebPageTest, IsItWP and Pingdom. But Pingdom is a slightly better all-rounder that makes your webpage’s score significantly easier to understand. Whilst giving you all the important information you need to know. And most importantly troubleshoot!
So, which of these website speed test tools will you use to test your website?
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