Speed is a major component when it comes to your website optimization. Fast websites with modern web design will generally greatly contribute to the overall success of your online business.
With everyone being in a rush nowadays, all apps and tools also need to function as fast as possible. Your website needs to be optimized properly; otherwise, you may lose on traffic and conversions. And if your site is sluggish with low functionality, your online business could end before it even started. With that in mind, there are no alternatives that can help you go around website optimization – you just have to get on and deal with it. If you don’t have a fast-loading website, your visitors will most likely skip it, even if it’s full of great content.
Luckily, there are plenty of test tools that can help you with your website optimization. For this post, we will go over 12 of the best speed test tools on the market.
Table of Contents:
- The Importance of Speed Testing a Website
- Reasons Why Website Speed Matters
- How to Read Basic Speed Test Parameters
- Website Speed Test and Analysis Tools
The Importance of Speed Testing a Website
Typically, your goal is a fast website. That’s why you need to know the current speed condition of that website. Here is where the speed test tools come into the scene. Testing your website is the first crucial step you have to take when aiming for an optimized website with better loading times. Speed testing will help you set a benchmark and measure all the changes you need to make to provide the best user experience (UX) in terms of speed. Overall, testing is the best starting point whenever you are about to work for improvements.
The ideal speed for your website is 1 second in the country where it’s being hosted. That minimum loading time feels like an instant. However, speed varies for several factors, such as marketing tools or other tracking software. With that, you can still aim for a loading time of 1.5 seconds, which is still quite acceptable.
When testing the loading speed of your website, consider several speed tests, and then averaging them out. That’s because results can vary from one test to another, mainly due to DNS caching, CDN caching, and WordPress caching.
Reasons Why Website Speed Matters
Website Speed is the First Thing People Experience
In life, first impressions are important. That’s the same when we talk about the web. Therefore, the first impression your site makes is crucial to your overall success. The first noticeable thing when you go on a website is how long it takes to load fully. Most viewers or customers make their quick judgment based on that first impression and decide whether they are interested in continuing browsing the website they have entered, or skip it and go to the next one. If you have done everything properly to quickly make your website load, you can be sure that you’re most likely making a great first impression. When it comes to traffic and conversions, user experience is of great importance.
Users consider fast and good-looking websites to be professional, and therefore – reliable. On the other hand, a slow website not only makes people think it’s unprofessional, but it also makes them feel unsafe, which is the main reason for them to close it as soon as possible. If you own an online shop, know that most online shoppers will not come back to your website if it loads slowly.
People Expect Fast Website Loading Times
The Internet demands quick websites, mainly because there’s a great competition that grows constantly.
Based on the feedback of 1,048 online shoppers that were surveyed, Forrester Consulting concluded the following key findings:
- 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in two seconds or less;
- 40% of consumers will wait no more than three seconds for a web page to render before abandoning the site;
- 52% of online shoppers state that quick page loading is important to their site loyalty;
- Shoppers become distracted if they have to wait for a page to load. 14% will begin shopping at another site, and 23% will stop shopping or walk away from their computer;
- Retail and travel sites that underperform lead to lost sales. 79% of online shoppers who experience a dissatisfying visit are less likely to buy from that site again. 64% would simply purchase from another online store.
Patience is something that’s not easy to find when it comes to people on the move. Everyone wants their information quickly.
We all want quick answers and immediate results. However, if an authority site like Google or Amazon is loading a bit slowly, people tend to have more patience because they know they are in the right place. That said, if you are still a small or medium-sized business, you don’t have that luxury, and you need to make sure your website is as fast as possible, right from the very beginning.
Website Speed is a Major Ranking Factor
Search engines like speed in general. Google’s mission is to improve the Internet in every way, and speed is among the most important factors. Here’s what the search engine said about speed and your Google rank back in 2010:
“While site speed is a new signal, it doesn’t carry as much weight as the relevance of a page. Currently, fewer than 1% of search queries are affected by the site speed signal. It basically means that the average websites won’t see much change. But, if your site is super slow, you will suffer.”
Keep in mind that Google will reduce the number of crawlers on your website if your loading time is below 2 seconds, which means that your newest content will need more time to get picked up for organic searches. That’s not good for you.
Better Speed Equals Better User Experience
We often mention user experience in our posts. It’s quite important if you aim for your website to be set apart from the competition. UX design is about creating an attractive yet simple environment for your visitors. There are 2 main factors to consider when it comes to positive user experience.
Basically, if someone is on your website, they are there for a specific reason. You want to give users what they want as quickly as possible, so the chance for them to come back is higher. On the other hand, people are likely to leave your site if they have to wait, and they will likely share their negative experiences with friends or on internet forums.
Faster Loading Times Lead to Greater Conversion Rates
If the sluggishness of a site drives people away, that naturally affects your sales. That has been tested multiple times. For example, Amazon’s test showed that they might lose roughly $1.5 billion a year if their website loaded just a second slower. And that’s an established online shop. Imagine what would happen with a small one.
How to Read Basic Speed Test Parameters
Before we start listing speed testing tools with their specifications, we will briefly explain the most important parameters you will often see when using those tools.
Something important to remember when it comes to your website URL – use the site’s primary web address (with the www at the beginning). People often skip the www part of a website’s URL, which can potentially add 1, even 2 seconds to the loading time. That’s because the website is actually loading its default version (with www).
This one is crucial. The “Test From” parameter stands for the location of the speed test. Most of the time, you would want to choose a country where you get the most traffic. You should also expect a bit slower loading times in places outside the country where your website’s server is located.
Load time is perhaps the most important metric. You should always try to get loading time under 1 second. However, we already mentioned that you could settle for up to 2 seconds. It’s still quick, just doesn’t feel as instant.
In this section, you will see the tested page’s total size. If a page is smaller, the loading speed should be quicker, and vice versa. Typically, a site with lots of images will be around 2mb, but it’s not unusual to see pages with even 15mb. Such pages would be very sluggish on a standard internet connection.
As with page size, lower requests are also better than higher. Websites are generally considered fast when they have between 50 and 100 requests. If you cross the 200 requests mark, your site will start to feel very slow. That’s especially noticeable on mobile devices because their CPU power is usually less than that of an average computer.
Website Speed Test and Analysis Tools
There are many website speed test and performance monitoring tools on the market, both paid and free, but we handpicked some of the best ones to consider. Each one of them has excellent features that distinguish them. You don’t need just to test your website with one tool. You can use multiple tools and run multiple tests to be thorough. However, one of the most important things for website speed optimization is to pick one tool to test your website, run analysis, and stick with it when you focus on improvements.
GTmetrix is a well-known speed testing tool and is one of the most frequently used ones on the Internet. GTmetrix is fairly easy to use by people that are not too familiar with technicalities.
GTmetrix uses results from Google PageSpeed Insights and YSlow to generate a score for your website and give you recommendations. The tool assigns a grade from A to F, with the generated reports being split into 5 sections:
- PageSpeed score
- YSlow score
- Waterfall chart
- Page Load Timings
- Report History
For more details on the last two sections and an overall understanding of how they work, go ahead and create a free GTmetrix account. Explore the tool, and you will see for yourself how helpful it can be. If you wish, you can also choose to purchase the GTmetrix Pro version. That goes, especially if your site is larger and more complex. Also, make sure to check out our in-depth tutorial section, where we dive into how to use the GTmetrix speed test tool.
Additionally, you can choose the browser you want to do your test with, Chrome or Firefox (desktop versions). You can also choose to make tests while comparing website performance according to different connection types (dial-up vs. cable). This way, you will get more thorough information about your page load times, which is always helpful. You will also find the server select option particularly useful since you can test the website’s speed globally on behalf of your visitors.
Keep in mind that GTmetrix is widely used, and many of the tool’s servers are often overloaded. That can make the speed tests seem slower than they normally should be.
Pingdom, like GTmetrix, is one of the most well-known speed test tools on the Internet. A Swedish-based company, Pingdom offers several different services, but it’s most famous for its free speed testing tool. With that said, you should consider that the performance grade doesn’t really correlate with performance. However, Pingdom is still a great speed testing tool to use.
Pingdom’s popularity is because it’s straightforward to use. Since not everyone is a web performance or web optimization expert, such tools can be overwhelming.
When using Pingdom, you will need to enter your site’s web address (URL), as well as the location you want the test to be done from. As always, it’s best to choose the location closest to where your site is being hosted.
Pingdom’s speed test reports are initially split into four sections: performance grade, total load time, total page size, and the waterfall chart.
You can find more detailed information below those four sections, meaning you get a nice overview of what’s important when you aim to improve page performance. You can easily compare your website’s CDN asset size with one of your domains and compare the number of requests by domain and the type of content on your website that had the most requests.
Google PageSpeed Insights
Google PageSpeed Insights will not provide you with lots of data that will help you optimize your website loading times. However, there are still good reasons why you should check out this tool by Google.
Google’s results matter because Google is actually the one creating the search rankings that you aim for. Therefore, when Google finds issues in website performance, you should take them seriously.
Like other tools listed in this post, PageSpeed Insights is also an easy-to-use one. It requires only your website URL (web address), and after your inputs, it quickly generates the performance for both the mobile and the desktop version of your website.
PageSpeed Insights grades your website on a scale from 1 to 100. The higher the number—the better your site has been optimized. A good benchmark is a score of 85, meaning that your website is performing quite well. Some example recommendations that the tool gives you are advice on image optimization and minifying CSS.
The PageSpeed Insights mobile report has an additional category called “User Experience.” It’s included in your score, recommending an optimal size of tap targets (buttons and links), viewport configuration, and eligible font sizes.
This speed testing tool is well suited and most used by small and middle-range businesses and independent website owners that look for a straightforward and easy way to keep up with optimal website performance.
In reality, the PageSpeed Insights score doesn’t really have too much to do with actual speed. While the tool is still pretty useful, you should be aware that it only measures speed partially.
A large part of the generated score comes from the comparison made by putting your site against a technical checklist. With that, the tool often doesn’t consider specific practical limitations of the website coding and design.
DareBoost is an online application that you can use to analyze and optimize your website performance. It comes with lots of optimization tips. The application is designed to reduce web page loading time and increase its quality.
The main features of DareBoost are:
- You have the option to compare your website speed with the competition;
- DareBoost continuously analyzes web pages to detect possible quality and loading related issues;
- The tool enables you to check user behavior on your website;
- You can test your mobile website speed.
The UpTrends website has quite an appealing design. If you want a speed testing tool that looks nice when you take screenshots and send them to your clients, UpTrends is definitely a good option. Here is what the tool offers:
- A beautiful and in-depth waterfall graph that provides thorough information.
- Generates a significant amount of domain group data for you to see all the domains your webpage might be referencing.
- UpTrends is easy to use and offers a lot of worldwide locations from which you can test.
Overall, UpTrends is a good, well-designed page speed testing tool. It doesn’t provide a lot of exclusive features, but it’s a decent client-facing option.
WebPageTest is another popular tool for measuring the performance and speed of a web page. Using this tool, you can run web performance tests on your site from different locations worldwide, on different browsers.
With WebPageTest, you can do the following:
- Perform advanced tests, such as blocking content, video capture, multi-phase transactions;
- Run the Chrome browser at real consumer connection speeds;
- Get diagnostic information that contains page speed optimization checks, loading cascade diagrams, and different suggestions for better user experience.
SiteSpeedBot will provide you with detailed recommendations for improving your website’s speed, including probing and testing many things that really matter in 2020.
If you decide to use SiteSpeedBot, you’ll see how it offers more details and recommendations on HTTP2 support, as well as HTTP2 push support, which is rare among speed testing tools. SiteSpeedBot also measures various important speed metrics, such as DNS hosting speed and Time to First Byte (TTFB).
The tool gives you these initial first four sections or parameters to consider:
- Page Size;
- Total Load Time;
- Number of Requests
- Time to First Byte.
You can, of course, go into more detail about your page with the more elaborate sections which are:
- Improve page performance: You get information about the site’s overall performance, give you suggestions on what you need, and improve on it.
- Summary: You can find the first four initial sections mentioned above, along with the DNS Resolution Time (or DNS speed), SSL negotiation time, Connection Time, Wait time, and Receive time.
- Other metrics section: You can find information about whether the server supports HTTP2 protocol, as well as HTTPS; the number of CSS files, whether your site supports Next-gen images, as well as whether you’re on a slow or a fast hosting provider, and the detection of lazy loading, among other info.
- Image compression test: You can analyze the images on your site, their weight, as well as the potential weight-saving you can achieve by image compression.
Performance is an online tool that measures how long it takes to connect to your site and fully load one page.
- Test the performance of your sites from any country.
- It measures the duration from the client making an HTTP connection request to the first byte of the web page received by your browser.
- You can analyze server time to reply to a data request made from another device.
Website Speed Test
Nowadays, most websites are image-heavy. With so many people using high definition displays and retina screens, it’s quite difficult to get away with low-resolution pictures. That’s why image compression is a must. To test your images, consider trying the Website Speed Test Image Analysis Tool.
Here are some of the tool’s features:
- A readout of every image on the analyzed page. This readout tells you how large the image is and how much space you could save by compressing it in a different way.
- Data on how many images your webpage successfully loads – and how much overall data they require.
- Suggestions on ways to further compress your images without sacrificing image quality.
The Website Speed Test Image Analysis Tool is one of the only tools to focus entirely on images. With a more visual web coming our way in the future, this tester is an essential tool to have in your kit.
SEO Site Checkup
As we mentioned, page speed is an incredibly important factor in how Google ranks your website. SEO Site Checkup is a great tool that lets you address page speed while also looking into other search engine optimization factors.
Here are some of the reasons to choose SEO Site Checkup:
- SEO Site Checkup looks at your website’s health comprehensively, considering factors that can impact performance, user experience, and search rankings.
- The speed test tool provides a report that is easy to read and easy to act on. SEO Site Checkup points you towards easy to fix issues that you may have missed.
- The holistic approach can help you see just how important your page’s speed can be to the overall performance of a website, both with users and search engine algorithms.
SEO Site Checkup is a vital tool for any web marketing professional. After running this diagnostic, you’ll be better able to determine where to commit resources and time to improve your webpage performance best.
Dotcom-tools offers a robust and thorough page speed testing tool. The Website Speed Test from Dotcom-tools.com checks page speed from 24 locations – including yours (or as close to yours as possible).
Seeing how your load times vary from location to location can help you see how different users are experiencing your website around the world.
Knowing where most of your users actually come from can help you contextualize the information provided by the Website Speed Test; consider cross-referencing this data with data from Google Analytics, for example.
The Dotcom-tools Website Speed Test also provides detailed waterfall graphs so you can see exactly the order in which your webpage loads.
The Dotcom-tools Website Speed Test tool is the choice if you are primarily concerned with analyzing how different users in different geographic regions experience your website.
KeyCDN is a tool to analyze your website performance and identify connectivity issues. It helps you to prevent attacks and unauthorized actions.
- You can easily configure this tool to your specification;
- Provides accurate real-time reports;
- Helps you to prevent attacks and unauthorized actions;
- KeyCDN has a RESTful API that allows complete control over your account from any application in any language.
YSlow is a performance and comprehensive tool for testing the speed and performance of your website. The tool must be installed as an add-on to the browser. The Yslow tool is free to use and accepts the most popular web browsers.
YSlow focuses its attention on 23 factors that can influence the speed of a website. The tool offers a detailed analysis based on these factors. The areas are rated from A to F, making it easy for you to see the weaker areas, subsequently improving.
A well-optimized website is crucial for the best possible experience users would get when interacting with it. As a website owner, speed is one of the most important things you need to have in mind. That’s why one of the first steps to take is making a speed test for your site.
SEO is important, and a quick loading website is better for SEO. Even that alone should be a good reason to keep your website optimized. A speedy website will get you not only a better ranking but also extra traffic and a better conversion rate.