Your website has only about two seconds to load before site visitors lose patience and exit your site. When the average website conversion rate is around just 5%, every visitor lost is a missed opportunity. On top of that, search engines like Google consider how quickly your site loads when determining its rank. Learning how to check your site speed and improving your site’s performance is therefore vital to your business’ overall success.
Here are the best website speed test tools at a glance:
- Pingdom: Best overall website speed test tool that is fast, insightful, and user-friendly.
- WebPage Test: Best for testing website speed by device or browser type.
- Google PageSpeed Insights: Best for developers as the data provided is robust, yet technical.
- Website Speed Test (Image Analyzer): Best for testing image-heavy websites.
- SEO Site Checkup: Best for analyzing site performance in terms of search.
Pingdom: Best Overall Website Performance Tool
Pingdom is the leading website performance monitoring tool. What makes it so popular is that it’s available for free, is fast, reliable, and offers users a list of insights into where their site needs improvement. By identifying the issues that may be contributing to a less than ideal site speed, you’re able to work on improving your site.
Premium plan required for alerts
It's free to use
The data and insights are a bit technical
Numerous test location options
WebPage Test: Best Tool for Testing by Device or Location
WebPage Test is admittedly not the prettiest-looking interface, though it is a leading website speed test tool for a reason. It offers free website performance data that includes the ability to test from various locations around the world as well as by browser, device type, and user cache state. This helps you not only know how quickly your site loads, but it provides you with more information about individual users and what their experiences will be like with your site.
It's free to use
Various locations worldwide
Can be a bit slow
User experience insights by device, browser, and cache state
Google PageSpeed Insights: Best In-depth Performance Data
PageSpeed Insights is a top website performance test available for free from Google. It stands out for its comprehensive data insights that provide advice for how you can improve your site’s speed and overall performance. However, that said, it is best for those with technical experience as well as those who plan to hire a web developer to make website updates on their behalf.
Very robust data provided
Requires technical know-how to make meaningful changes based on results
It's free to use
Website Speed Test: Best Tool for Analyzing Website Images
Sure, a picture is worth a thousand words, but with websites, your images may be taking a lot of time to load, attributing to longer-than-average website load times. Website Speed Test is the best image analysis tool for testing how your site’s media is affecting your site’s speed. Unlike other website performance tools that check images, this tool takes an in-depth look at your images, and provides a complete breakdown of what you can do to improve your site.
In-depth image analysis
It doesn’t test from various locations
Recommendations for improvement
It doesn’t consider various browsers or cache
It's free to use
SEO Site Checkup: Best Website Performance Tool for SEO
The best website performance tool for search engine optimization (SEO) data and insights is SEO Site Checkup. Unlike other website performance test tools, it focuses on how your site performs in search. For example, it analyzes issues such as how your site ranks in Google, its keywords, meta titles, and descriptions, and your sitemap. It provides insights on how to fix any issues your site may have that are harming its ability to rank.
It’s available for free
It only lets you use it once every 60 minutes
User-friendly SEO insights at a glance
Data provided is fairly limited
Various types of SEO tests available
How to Use Website Performance Tools
Once you have selected your preferred performance tool, it’s super easy to test your website speed or other performance metric. All you have to do is navigate to the website performance tool of your choice, such as Pingdom or Google PageSpeed Insights. Then, copy and paste your website’s URL into the text bar and begin your performance analysis. Give the platform a minute to complete the process and then review your site’s score and action items on how you can improve.
Not sure where to begin optimizing your site for speed and search? Learn more about how to design a website.
What Website Speed Is Considered Fast?
Generally, fast load time is considered to be two seconds or less. Yes, that’s incredibly fast, and unless you’re a leading website, you probably don’t see these types of results. For example, a Pingdom site speed test shows that Amazon’s load time is 709 milliseconds, Hulu is 1.72 seconds, and Target’s is 2.01 seconds, whereas many small businesses will hover around two to five seconds.
How Does Page Load Speed Affect Google Rankings?
One common denominator in top-ranking websites is that they all load quickly. In fact, one study found that 100% of first page results on Google loaded in three seconds or less. Meanwhile, it found that the average load time across websites is around eight seconds. This illustrates the sheer importance of page load time in Google rankings.
So why does Google put so much weight on site speed? In short, it indicates whether people will find it a good result to their search query. This is because there’s a direct correlation between site speed and bounce rates, or the percentage of visitors who exit a site without visiting other web pages. The longer a page takes to load, the higher the bounce rate.
How Do I Improve My Website Load Speed?
Now that you know how quickly (or slowly) your pages load, you’re probably wondering what you can do to improve your site speed. There are a variety of ways to do so, but many require technical know-how. The good news is that even without being a developer, there are things you can do to improve load speed, including compressing images, deactivating plugins you’re not using, limiting redirects, using a content distribution network (CDN), or even switching to a faster web hosting plan.
Here are a few easy ways to improve your website load speed:
- Compress images and videos
- Deactivate unnecessary plugins
- Enable cache
- Reduce URL redirects
- Use a content distribution network (CDN)
- Enable file compression
- Get faster web hosting
How Often Should I Check My Website’s Speed?
How often you should check your site speed will depend on your site, the frequency of site updates and changes, and your unique goals. For example, a large ecommerce site that generates sales solely from the web will likely check speed daily, whereas an informational small business website may be checked periodically or after site updates.
New to web design and website management? Learn more about the basics of websites.
What Are Other Ways to Improve SEO?
Website speed is only one of the many factors that are used to determine how your site ranks in search engines such as Google. To help improve your site’s ranking, you can deploy a link building strategy, create a content strategy around target keywords, submit your site to be indexed by Google, build a strong social media presence, and increase your visibility online by adding your business to relevant directories.
Here are other ways to improve your website for search engines:
- Build links
- Know your target keywords
- Create a content strategy
- Submit your URL to Google
- Build social media profiles
Learn more about all the ways to help your website get found on Google with these website marketing strategies.
Site speed matters. When load time is a top factor in Google’s algorithm, having a site that loads quickly can mean higher rankings and more site visitors. It also means that once you get these visitors to your site, they’re given a good user experience and are more likely to stay on your site, and ideally become a customer. For more insight into creating a website that serves as a marketing machine, check out our article on building a small business website.