Website speed tests have become increasingly important for marketing, and web development. While there was always supposed to be understanding that it was better to load up your website fast for users, this hasn't always been taken on board by website developers.
Even in the age of the dial-up modem, some web developers still insisted on large images that could take time to load. And the arrival of high-speed broadband has allowed lazy web development to focus on bloating code, rather than the user experience.
This in itself could be a problem when it comes to marketing, but it's also become an issue in search engine optimization (SEO) because search engines such as Google now take into account page loading speed as a ranking metric. In other words, it your targeted webpage takes a long time to load, Google will preference competitor webpages that don't.
This has caused another resurgence in interest for optimizing the page loading speed of websites. While there are plenty of developers who have always kept to best practices, everyone is now under extra pressure to deliver on page loading time savings - or risk losing important web traffic through search engine results.
Here therefore we'll list the best website speed test tools, to ensure you're giving the most for your user experience.
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PageSpeed Insights is a developer tool provider by Google and powered by their Lighthouse platform, which is also available through the Chrome browser as well as in Google Analytics (User Behavior > Site Speed). The standalone PageSpeed Insights webpage, though, is one of the most accessible ways to get more of the information you need on helping to improve your website speed.
Simply enter your target URL in the box provided, and it will provide a report on key areas to look out for, as well as suggestions for improvement. Curiously, though, note that the webpage may provide a different score that accessing Lighthouse either through Chrome or Google Analytics.
Even still, there are helping indicators aside from overall scoring, such as how fast the first text and images appear, as well as how long it takes for the page to become interactive. There are also two main helpful sections such as Opportunities that offer ways to easily improve page speed loading times, and Diagnostics which provide more specific details on areas for improvement.
This is a great free tool for providing a general overview, but it's aimed more at web developers than webmasters, so the casual user shouldn't expect to be able to understand all of the information provided.
GTmetrix provides an excellent website speed checker that's easy to use through its clean user interface. Once you've entered your URL, it provides a nicely presented set of information on your speed test, based on its server in Canada. While other locations might be preferable, the information provided is excellent.
There are also paid-for plans available, with offer an expanded range of options such as device simulation, user-agent override, screen resolution and pixel ratio, DNS override, and customized presets. The pro version also allows for a larger number of URLs to be monitored and n a more convenient time basis.
Even sticking to the free version, there's plenty to work with, and even better it's likely that most webmasters would be able to understand much of the terminology and so be able to deal with at least some website speed issues directly without having to employ a coder.
Dareboost offers a free page speed test that provides a quality and performance report using a simple and userstand graphical interface. This involves a long list of key pointers that are clearly presented, and offer useful insights that are accessible for inexperienced users as well as web developers.
Key information is presented in a series of charts that provide a quick visual overview of website performance and page loading speed. Additionally, a list of tips and best practices is shown and how these apply to your website, covering both areas to improve upon as well as areas you're clear on. You can browse through these as a general list, or by category, such as for impact on accessibility, security, or SEO. The information is well presented, and clear explanations are detailed as required.
Dareboost also provides paid-for plans for more extensive monitoring, allowing you to increase the number of pages and the intervals between monitoring checks. You can configure your own plan, or you can use one of the existing default plans, both of which offer multi-user access as well as unlimited analysis reports.
Overall, Dareboost offers a great free tool to provide a general overview that is easy to use for general users, and could be especially usful for novices just trying to gain some useful insights on how to improve their page speeds.
Pingdom offers a free website speed test that aims to provide useful information for both novice and advanced users to help identify ways in which your website speed can be improved.
A key plus is that you can run the test from different geolocations in order to see not just how fast or slow your website loads, but how it performs according to users from a number of places around the world. This makes it useful not just for helping speed up your website but also to identify potential bottlenecks for global users.
Pingdom's free test is relatively basic and provides less actionable information than some of the others listed here, making it good for inexperienced users to get a handle on their website speed, but perhaps not so useful for developers except to provide a quick general overview.
However, this tool is just one of a larger set of more complex ones that are available on a paid-for plan, to help with overall website and user-experience monitoring.
Alertra offers a simple and free ping service for monitoring the uptime of your website(s). Although it's not technically a webpage speed test, as much as a ping for testing global connections, it is still very much the best and most popular ping service out there.
The free test is basically just to determine whether your website is still online and available for internet users, and provides results from over a dozen global locations, namely basned across North America, Europe, and Asia. These then provide response times and rates to help determine how fast your website loads around the world, and highlight any potential connection bottlenecks.
The real value of Alertra, though, is through the use of its subscription plan, which allows you to easily monitor multiple pages along with multiple website services such as HTTP, PING, TCP, SMTP, POP3, IMAP4, TELNET, SSH, DNS, NNTP, FTP, and MySQL.