Today we want to share with you some free website speed test tools. Why is speed so important? Well, because Google says so for a start. Site speed is a significant factor in Google’s algorithm, so fast-loading websites can expect to rank higher in the SERPs and attract more visitors. Then there are the user experience considerations. If a site loads quickly, visitors are more likely to stick around, read your content, and ultimately convert. In other words, a lightning-quick website unlocks all the good things that webmasters crave.
However, we’re not here to talk about how to make your website faster as we’ve covered that extensively already. We are here to share with you some tools so that you can tangibly measure your site’s speed and track any improvements. What’s the optimal load time that you should be aiming for with these tools? Well, the faster the better, but most experts suggest that around two seconds is a good target. Remember too that there is a difference between perceived performance and actual performance.
Remember, one of the most important things when it comes to website speed testing is to pick one tool and stick with it. Each has their own set of different metrics and therefore you can’t compare one tool’s test results to another. You should focus on making improvements. Gary Illyes, Webmaster Trends Analyst from Google, sums it up well:
Each tool has a set of different metrics but each metric on its own makes perfect sense to improve. No tool is perfect and normally I’d tell you which one is the closest, but in this case is really about picking one that you like.
Pingdom is a market-leading website monitoring service, best known for its free website speed testing tool. The speed testing tool displays all of your site’s requests in a waterfall view. You can filter by load order, file size, and load times, giving you different perspectives for identifying potential improvements – it also lists total requests, load time, and page size. It has gained popularity over the years due to the fact that it is super easy to use, especially when compared to similar speed test tools. For beginners, Pingdom can be a great way to start.
Pingdom also gives you a speed performance rating, scored out of 100. This rating is broken down into twelve criteria, with each given an individual score. Again, this is helpful for identifying the “quick wins” you can target to make instant, tangible improvements to your site’s speed. It is possible to score a 100 score, as seen on this live e-commerce site below. However, don’t obsess too much over scores, as they don’t matter as much as simply making improvements on your site to speed it up.
Pingdom stores the results of all tests performed on your website, allowing you to historically track speed improvements over time. Make sure to also check out our in-depth guide where we dive into how to use the Pingdom speed test tool. We show you how to fix confusing warnings you might see such as “Specify a Vary: Accept-Encoding header” or “Specify a cache validator.”
One thing to keep in mind with Pingdom though is that it doesn’t yet support HTTP/2 when you run a speed test. This means the additional performance gains such as multiplexing and parallelism won’t be reflected. You can verify this by looking at the request headers in your test. As you can see below, Pingdom is currently using Chrome 39, and they didn’t add HTTP/2 support to Chrome until version 41. If you are wanting to test HTTP/2, we recommend using one of the other tools mentioned further below.
Google has said since 2010 that page speed is an important ranking factor for SEO. To help you improve your site’s speed, Google has its very own speed testing tool, Google PageSpeed Insights, which measures the performance of a page for mobile devices and desktop devices.
The PageSpeed Score ranges from 0 to 100 points. A higher score is better and a score of 85 or above indicates that the page is performing well. The report page gives you a useful breakdown of the steps you can take to improve performance. PageSpeed Insights also provides you with additional user experience suggestions for mobile devices. Check out our tutorial where we took a WordPress site to a 100/100 score on PageSpeed Insights.
If you care about elevating your website to the top of the SERPs, it pays to listen to what Google recommends. We also have a walk-through on how to fix that stubborn leverage browser caching warning.
According to Google, people are 5 times more likely to leave a site if it isn’t mobile-friendly. That is why they released their mobile website speed testing tool. This tool is actually powered by Google PageSpeed Insights, and is aimed more toward marketers and agencies to better deliver easy to understand optimization reports.
You can get reports sent right to your email, or forward the information along to your webmaster or developer. However, remember that a 100/100 score might not even be possible in all scenarios, depending on how your WordPress site is setup. With a lot of multipurpose themes and sites with dozens of external scripts, you simply will have an almost impossible time trying to achieve a perfect score. Which is perfectly OK. And definitely not the developer’s fault.
Google Analytics also has the ability to measure site speed. This exists in your GA dashboard under the “Behavior” menu. It captures information via a snippet of code included in a web page. Their site speed reports measure three aspects of latency:
While this can be helpful as an overall comparison, we generally recommend not using this as we’ve found the data to not always be accurate or a clear depiction of what’s really happening on the site. Why? because it’s collected from a random sampling of data.
Joe has a great write up the problem with site speed accuracy in Google Analytics. Yotta has also reported on frequent errors which can throw off the site speed averages substantially. We recommend using one of the other speed test tools mentioned in this post.
WebPagetest was created by Patrick Meenan, a Chrome engineer at Google. It is an open source project and allows you to run a free website speed test from multiple locations around the globe using real browsers (IE, Chrome, etc). For you more advanced users needing to get additional data from your speed tests, this is a great tool.
WebPageTest allows you to perform advanced tests including multi-step transactions, capture video, content blocking, compare first view verses repeat view, change the connection speed, and much more. Their waterfall charts and resource loading reports provide lots of additional information regarding improvements that can be made across your site.
Another benefit to using WebPageTest is that is has supported HTTP/2 for a long time. This makes it great for testing the true performance of your WordPress site over SSL with multiplexing, parallelism, etc. all being taken into account. As you can see below in the request header, WebPageTest is using Chrome 58. HTTP/2 support was added in Chrome 41.
GTmetrix is another popular speed analysis tool, and arguably the best-known of all the Pingdom alternatives. It is easy to use and beginners can pick it up quite fast. The tool provides comprehensive analysis by combining the performance and recommendations provided by Google PageSpeed Insights and YSlow. This means that GTmetrix is effectively a one-stop-shop for all of your speed optimization needs.
To ensure that your top-level data is easier to digest, GTmetrix displays a summary at the top of the page, listing your total page load time, page size, and number of requests. The tool also displays a list of your requests in a waterfall chart, enabling you to identify problem areas and bottlenecks with ease. The waterfall chart can be downloaded, too, so that you can perform further analysis.
You can create a free account in which allows you to save the last 20 tests, compare historical data, and have pre-configured settings for testing locations, browsers, connection speeds, and more. Just like WebPageTest, GTmetrix also supports HTTP/2 speed testing. As you can see below in the request header, GTmetrix is using Chrome 54. HTTP/2 support was added in Chrome 41.
Make sure to also check out our in-depth guide where we dive into how to use the GTmetrix speed test tool.
KeyCDN’s free website speed test tool provides an incredibly fast and easy way to determine the overall speed of your WordPress site. The simple page speed test includes a waterfall breakdown and a website preview. You can select from 14 different test locations, strategically located around the globe, in order to better determine the overall download time of your assets from that physical region.
You can run both a private and public test in which you can then later share or bookmark for future reference. The breakdown report shows a great overview of the request methods (GET/POST), HTTP status codes (such as 200 OK or 404), file types, content size, wait/receive time, total download time, and the overall number of HTTP requests generated on your site. KeyCDN also has other free handy web performance testing tools such as Ping Test, HTTP/2 Test, HTTP Check, and Traceroute Tool.
The KeyCDN speed test tool also supports HTTP/2. Unlike some of the other tools mentioned above, KeyCDN actually used Mozilla Firefox for their tests. As you can see below in the request header, KeyCDN is using Firefox 36. HTTP/2 support was added in Firefox 36.
DareBoost is an all-in-one service for website speed testing, web performance monitoring, and website analysis (speed, SEO, quality, security). And while they are primarily a premium service, you can use their website speed test tool for 5 free reports per month, minus a few advanced features for paid customers. The free reports are actually pretty impressive!
The DareBoost speed test report analyzes over 80 different data points, across the following categories:
You can quickly see where your WordPress site is struggling and needs work. The security reporting is also very unique when compared to the other tools we have mentioned. You can see things such as if your website is exposed to clickjacking attack, you are missing a content security policy header, and even information about your SSL certificate. Their design is pretty awesome too! If you are needing a report for your boss or agency, this might be a tool you want to check out.
Just like WebPageTest, GTmetrix, and KeyCDN, DareBoost also supports HTTP/2 for testing. As you can see below in the request header, DareBoost is using Chrome 57. HTTP/2 support was added in Chrome 36.
The Web Page Analyzer is a highly recommended free tool for analyzing your site’s speed, size, and composition. The script calculates the size of individual elements and sums up each type of web page component. Based on these page characteristics the script then offers advice on how to improve page load time.
More specifically, the tool will tell you how long your website takes to load for different connection speeds. If you like your data detailed, the Web Page Analyzer tool breaks it down for you, displaying the size and a comment for each. At the bottom of the analysis, the tool provides comments and recommendations on 11 specific aspects of your site’s performance – including telling you the areas where you perform well. It appears this tool hasn’t been updated though for a while, so don’t expect things like HTTP/2 support.
Next up, Yahoo!’s page performance tool, YSlow. The tool requires installation as an add-on for your browser, but is completely free to use – and most popular web browsers are supported.
The Yahoo! team has identified 34 factors that impact a website’s speed. Unfortunately, only 23 can be tested quantitatively, and so the tool focuses its analysis on these areas – the YSlow website lists these 23 “rules” with extended details, which are well worth checking out. With the analysis complete, YSlow will grade you for each area – scored from A to F. This makes it super-easy to spot your weaker areas, which you can target for the biggest steps forward in terms of site speed.
This used to be the most popular speed testing tool. But unfortunately, the YSlow project is no longer maintained. Their last commit was 2 years ago and there are over 100 open issues on their GitHub page. However, there is still some useful information that the extension provides, but we would recommend using a newer and actively supported website speed test tool.
The Chrome DevTools network panel is part of Chrome. This is a very popular tool among developers as it is easily accessible and a great for local debugging and testing. You can easily launch the network panel in Chrome by pressing Command+Option+I (Mac) or Control+Shift+I (Windows, Linux). You can then generate a waterfall analysis of your site and dig into the performance of each of your assets.
Another great feature added in Chrome 60 is the ability to block requests. This can be very useful when trying to determine how much overhead a 3rd-party service or script is having on your site.
The team at Google also integrated Lighthouse into Chrome Devtools. Lighthouse is an open-source, automated tool for improving the quality of web pages. It has audits for performance, accessibility, progressive web apps, and more. You can run it from the “Audit” tab. It has a similar 0 out of 100 grading system. You can dive into your requests, see what scripts might be render-blocking, image compression savings, etc. You can then easily share the link with others.
Other features in Chrome Devtools include being able to disable the cache, throttle your network connections, take screenshots of page rendering, and diagnose slow TTFB.
Load Impact is one of the best tools out there for testing how scalable your website is. They offer a free website performance test (5 reports per month), analyzing the consequences of having 25 concurrent users on your website and the impact this modest traffic has on-site speed.
Load Impact displays a handy graph, demonstrating how your load time changes when more users visit your website. To ensure your site caters to a truly global audience, Load Impact will also send virtual users to your website from different locations.
Want more? Load Impact conveniently displays top-level statistics such as bandwidth usage, requests made, and the number of requests per second. If you want extra data, considering upgrading to one of Load Impact’s premium plans – this allows you to test the impact of far greater volumes of concurrent users. The premium plans are available from $89/month.
Site Relic is another completely free website speed test tool that has popped up recently. It allows you to easily check your site’s load time on both mobile and desktop across 9 different regions. You can also view your TTFB across all regions at once.
Individual location reports allow you to easily see your fully loaded time, page size, first byte, total number of requests, request counts by type, and request counts by response code. The waterfall report in the tool is also very well designed.
dotcom-monitor has a lot of free and useful tools. One of which is their website speed test tool. It allows you to instantly test your website’s speed from 25 locations around the globe. You can choose between different browsers such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and Blackberry.
Their web performance report includes:
New Relic offers all sorts of services, from application performance monitoring, server monitoring, mobile monitoring, and real-time user insights. Technically this is a premium tool, but if you need more data than what the above tools provide, this would be the one you want to invest in.
One especially useful feature is the WordPress plugins section. You can instantly see which plugins and themes have the longest response times.
If your website starts to slow down, you can easily see this with New Relic and get notified so you can take immediate action to see what might be causing the issue. This also includes viewing external services or ad networks that might be slowing down your site. New Relic has been a great tool for us to ensure we provide the best support for our WordPress customers.
If you’re trying to speed up your website, it makes sense to use a tool that measures whether your changes have the desired effect and if so, by how much. All 15 of the tools in today’s post will help with that: they will provide you with the all-important top-level performance stats, such as load time, website size, and total requests.
If a lightning-quick website is your priority – and it should be! – make sure you’re using at least one of these tools to quantitatively measure your speed optimization strategy. By now, it should be abundantly clear: website speed is an important component of any successful website. The faster your website, the better your chances of success.
Make sure to also check out our post on how to identify and analyze external services on your WordPress site. What tools do you use for measuring website speed? Share them in the comments below!
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