We’ve spent quite a lot of time recently talking about optimizing your website’s performance. We have a 2-part series on website optimization, and a review of CDN and caching plugins that you can browse any time. With all this talk about website performance though, I realized we hadn’t really talked about how to measure it! This article will remedy that for you with a look at several easy to use, easy to interpret website speed test options for you to measure performance by. Let’s take a look!
Why the focus on speed? Because website performance is mission critical to both making your site more visible on the web, and retaining visitors once they’ve found you. How?
- Google uses speed as a part of their ranking algorithm. The faster your pages load, the better your overall SEO is going to be.
- Slow loading hurts your bottom line. For example, research indicates that ~40% of users will abandon a page that takes longer than 3 seconds to load, and even a 1 second delay in page response can reduce conversions by almost 10%.
A Few Website Speed Test Options
This is NOT a comprehensive list of website speed test options. There are a whole lot of good ones out there that aren’t included here. The handful that follows have been selected because I am familiar with them and know them to be reliable, and they are easy to use and interpret even if this is your first time using one. The objective here is to get you a handful of options that are great to begin measuring with. If there’s interest for a comprehensive list, let me know in the comments!
Where better to get information that impacts your SEO than through Google? They aren’t the be all and end all of website speed test options, but PageSpeed Insights is a great place to begin. Just type your URL in and they’ll rate you for both Speed and User Experience on both mobile and desktop.
For each category, they’ll show you each pain point they identify and each metric you’ve scored well on. Pain points come with details on why they are pain points and how to improve them.
GTmetrix shows you pagespeed data for what tested well and what didn’t both line by line for specific issues and as a waterfall view of load times. In the line by line view they cite the exact url of specific problematic elements and give advice on how to improve them.
They also feature YSlow, Yahoo!’s grading metric for site speed. Upgrading to a premium account with them also gives you the ability to create page load videos that you can play back in slow motion alongside the analysis to take a deep visual dive into your site’s performance. Premium also features a comparative history tab.
Pingdom throws a lot of data your way, and might look really intimidating your first time there. They do a great job of summarizing and giving you an easy to digest, graded review at the top of the page. It does include a breakdown of problem areas and how to fix them in this section, and then begins a deeper journey through your site.
It’s loaded with very useful information while being beginner friendly at the same time. It’s a win-win that will grow with your needs. The screenshot below doesn’t really do their feedback justice- there’s room to include the upper level stuff, but the real detailed stuff goes on for way farther down the page than we have room for here.
Like I said above, I could go on. Dareboost, WebPageTest, Yellow Lab Tools… there are lots of great ones out there. At the end of the day, it’s important that you have a reliable, intuitive measurement tool. These will definitely get you started. Once you get your speed test legs under you, shop around. The important thing is that you’re measuring. Happy testing!