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by James Challis on 7th March 2014
Since Broadband became the standard, web users have expected websites to load within a couple of seconds. Slow loading pages can have a surprisingly dramatic effect on the number of users who will purchase from your website. This means that slow sites are less effective at delivering a positive return on investment.
This infographic from KissMetrics shows the impact that poor loading times can have on website users and your profitability. If losing visitors that have already found your website wasn’t enough, Google has previously announced that page speed is an important metric that is used to rank websites and therefore where a site appears in Organic search results.
The following tools are designed to test, analyse and improve the speed of the pages on your website. For each industry, the average loading speed will be considerably different so it would be useful to compare your site to a selection of competitors to analyse the improvements that are necessary for your website to compete against similar websites.
Pingdom is a very user friendly tool, they have a client list that boasts some of the biggest names on the web such as Twitter, Google, Spotify and Instagram. The free version allows a website to be analysed using a European or North American server but unfortunately not a UK based server. Once you have entered your web page URL, you are presented with a summary of statistics including total loading time, page size and how fast a site loads compared to every other site previously tested on Pingdom.
The “Performance Grade” tab shows a sliding scale of how your tested page performs against a set of common page speed issues such as Browsing Caching and Bad Requests with lower numbers representing a problem with a website.
The Pingdom Waterfall feature shows when requests for certain files are made and how quickly each part of the page takes to process and download. The tool is also able to show historical data if the site has been tested before, highlighting any improvements in loading speed over time.
You are also able to set up alerts for your website that can be used to detect major unexpected changes to your website such as the server going offline, these alerts can be set to check your website every minute and appear in your inbox within minutes of the problem appearing.
GTMetrix is another tool full of features and analysis that can help improve your site speed. It combines data from both Google’s PageSpeed and Yslow to give a comprehensive overview of your site’s performance.
Your summary includes a breakdown of everything that is included in the analysis such as specifying image dimensions and using Gzip compression. The report includes helpful tips that explain each recommendation with a link to find out how to resolve the issue. GTMetrix also features a waterfall timeline with historical data similar to Pingdom.
A unique feature of GTMetrix is the ability to have platform relevant suggestions for popular CMS systems. For example, if you run a site on WordPress or Magento, the report identifies your platform and gives tips that are specifically based on your website’s technology.
The report that is produced can be used to download a PDF to share with Developers and decision makers and compare the analysed page with another URL to show how your site is performing in comparison to similar sites.
If you want to analyse a site from a UK based server, you may need to sign up for a free account. The GTMetrix bookmarklet is also handy for instantly testing a page whenever you’re browsing the web.
PageSpeed Insights from Google is the main technology behind the major tools previously mentioned. Google have their own version which gives a page a speed ranking out of 100 with recommendations on how to improve the scores. As the tool is created by Google, there is also a good chance that similar technology is used as part of the ranking algorithm.
The mobile analysis section is very useful for finding page and speed issues that may go unnoticed to developers using desktop browsers. The tool also shows a basic emulation image of how your website would look on a smaller screen. As well as this, the tool also gives suggestions to improve user experience for mobile devices such as tap target and content size.
WebpageTest is a highly technical tool that is designed primarily for use by web developers. The tool shows every individual file, content type, connection request and downloaded byte. These statistics can be really useful for identifying exactly what is causing unexpected delays in loading a page so that they can be resolved.
The tool is highly customisable with the largest range of variables that can be tested. Any website can be tested from a range of servers around the world which is ideal for most multinational websites. The tool also has an option to test Android and iOS page speeds although it currently only does this from a North American based server.
Pagescoring is a straightforward page speed check. The analysis will tell you how quickly a page loads, page size and server connection speed. The analysis produces a list of times, almost like a stopwatch showing the exact amount of time each file on the page takes to load. The main benefit of this tool is the simplicity of diagnosing problems with individual files including images and scripts that are impacting the loading time and speed of a page.
Hopefully this post has helped explain the features of these tools and if you have any questions or suggestions please comment below.
To check if your website’s page and site speed is affecting its performance, be sure to check out our SEO Site Audit service.
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