Free Online Tools To Test Your Website Speed And Optimization

Speed! We need speed! – It reminds me of a scene out of Rocky II where the hero was chasing a chicken around in preparation for his rematch with Apollo Creed.

Rocky was doing what we now describe in web terms as “optimizing”. Although chasing live animals would probably be equivalent to a “Black Hat” technique in modern times.

Website Speed and Google

Yes, it’s true. Web page speed is an ingredient in Google’s search algorithm. It has been since 2010, and thanks to the mobile revolution, it’s more important now than ever.

A website slower than a herd of snails traveling through peanut butter doesn’t lend itself to a good ranking.

Fortunately, there are some excellent tools you can use to check your website speed that also make recommendations on where to improve.

Six of the best tools for testing website speed and optimization are:

  • GTMetrix
  • WebPageTest
  • Google Page Speed Insights
  • Pingdom
  • PageLocity
  • Key CDN Tools

The good news is that these are all free.

To keep this faintly interesting for non-techies, we’re going to run a few well-known sites through the tools to get some scores as we go along. The sites belong to the biggest and most influential bloggers in the business.


Neil Patel (SEO Blogger)
neilpatel.com

Pat Flynn (Affiliate Marketing Blogger)
smartpassiveincome.com

Heather Armstrong (Mom Blogger)
dooce.com

Noah Kagan (Web Entrepreneur)
odork.com

and we’ll stick this website – www.bloggingmechanic.com into the ring and see what information the tools throw back.

Let’s check some of the more popular speed optimization sites and review the results we get from our sample test sites.

As you go along, run your own website through the checker tools.


GTMetrix

GTMetrix is a popular port of call for bloggers, webmasters, and developers because it has a number of reporting tools in one place.

To date, over 500 million web pages have been submitted for analysis.

I like GTMetrix as it reports on raw load speed, gives recommendations with Page Speed Rank and YSlow and displays a waterfall model to explain how the sequence of page resources load.

GTMetrix
GTMetrix

For testing the sample sites we used Vancouver, Canada as our location and got the following results:

GTMETRIX SCORES

Neil Patel:
Page Speed Score: A (97%)
YSlow Score: A (91%)
Fully Loaded Time: 2.2s

Pat Flynn:
Page Speed Score: D (72%)
YSlow Score: E (83%)
Fully Loaded Time: 2.2s

Heather Armstrong:
Page Speed Score: F (24%)
YSlow Score: F (48%)
Fully Loaded Time: 13.5s

Noah Kagan
Page Speed Score: D (60%)
YSlow Score: B (54%)
Fully Loaded Time: 3.7s

Blogging Mechanic:
Page Speed Score: A (97%)
YSlow Score: B (87%)
Fully Loaded Time: 1.4s

Of the five sites tested for speed, Heather’s site at dooce.com came out a distant last.

This also illustrates the value of content. Don’t think a fast website is any kind of replacement for good quality content. Heather is called the Queen of Mom Bloggers for good reason. Yet, speed-wise her site could do a lot better.

One point I’ll also make clear is that the tools are only a guide and don’t always give perfect advice or recommendations.

An example of a poor recommendation:

Add Expires Headers to four components“. This was one of the recommendations by YSlow for improving the Blogging Mechanic site.

The offending components listed were Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, MailerLite and Embedly. Implementing the recommendation is physically impossible as all four are hosted externally.

Despite a few flaws, there is a wealth of useful feedback and data at your disposal.


WebPageTest

WebPageTest a free website speed checker where you can simulate tests from multiple locations around the world using real browsers (IE and Chrome) at real consumer connection speeds.

The report includes optimization checks and suggestions for improvements.

WebPageTest
WebPageTest

For our sample sites we used the default option of Dulles, Virginia, USA as our testing location with Chrome as the web browser and got the following results:

WEBPAGETEST SCORES

Neil Patel:
First Byte Time: A
Keep-Alive Enabled: A
Compress Transfer: A
Compress Images: A
Compress Static Content: C
Effective Use of CDN: Yes
Load Time. 1.467s

Pat Flynn:
First Byte Time: A
Keep-Alive Enabled: A
Compress Transfer: A
Compress Images: A
Compress Static Content: C
Effective Use of CDN: Yes
Load Time. 8.794s

Heather Armstrong:
First Byte Time: F
Keep-Alive Enabled: A
Compress Transfer: A
Compress Images: A
Compress Static Content: F
Effective Use of CDN: No
Load Time. 12.74s

Noah Kagan
First Byte Time: F
Keep-Alive Enabled: A
Compress Transfer: D
Compress Images: A
Compress Static Content: F
Effective Use of CDN: No
Load Time. 4.434s

Blogging Mechanic:
First Byte Time: A
Keep-Alive Enabled: A
Compress Transfer: A
Compress Images: A
Compress Static Content: B
Effective Use of CDN: Yes
Load Time. 1.530s

The load time varied in comparison to the tests on GTMetrix. However, there is already a pattern emerging.

Neil Patel is running a very fast optimized site and Heather Armstrong’s site could do with improvement when it comes to speed optimization.


Page Speed Insights

Google’s own Page Speed Insights should be the sheriff in town. At least you would think so. Their own site speed checker changed dramatically when they changed the engine to a tool known as “Lighthouse”. Not for the better according to some.

WP-Rocket’s own Lucy Beer stated categorically that “Your Google PageSpeed score does not matter.” This was on the basis that rather bizarrely, Page Speed Insights doesn’t factor in the loading time of your site.

Anyway, it provides useful feedback, so it’s still worth running your site through the tool.

Page Speed Insights
Page Speed Insights

For our sample sites we used the default option of Dulles, Virginia, USA as our testing location with Chrome as the web browser and got the following results:

PAGESPEED INSIGHTS

Neil Patel:
Mobile: 90
Desktop: 100

Pat Flynn:
Mobile: 67
Desktop: 99

Heather Armstrong:
Mobile: 4
Desktop: 15

Noah Kagan
Mobile: 11
Desktop: 60

Blogging Mechanic:
Mobile: 83
Desktop: 93

If you run your site through Page Speed Insights, it’s probably worth doing more than once as we found that the scores fluctuate significantly more than some of the other tools on our list.


Pingdom

Pingdom is one of the most popular speed test tools. It’s easy-to-use and popular with developers and novices.

Pingdom
Pingdom

The tests on our sample sites were conducted from San Francisco, California, USA.

PINGDOM RESULTS

Neil Patel:
Performance Grade: 78 (C)
Load Time: 812s

Pat Flynn:
Performance Grade: 73 (C)
Load Time: 611ms

Heather Armstrong:
Performance Grade: 61 (D)
Load Time: 4.89s

Noah Kagan
Performance Grade: 68 (D)
Load Time: 2.06s

Blogging Mechanic:
Performance Grade: 82 (B)
Load Time: 1.03s

Pingdom was another tool where we found false positives contributing to scoring negatives.

For instance, the Blogging Mechanic website was penalized for not using GZip Image Compression. In reality, the site utilizes Brotli compression which is more efficient.


PageLocity

Described as a web application for analyzing and optimizing web pages. PageLocity comes from two words merging: Page and Velocity. Initially focused purely on performance, the analysis now includes a lot of additional information.

Pagelocity
Pagelocity

It wasn’t clear from the website where the tests were being conducted, although the author of the tool is from Romania.

PAGELOCITY RESULTS

Neil Patel:
Score: 73
On-Page SEO: 92
Performance: 69
Code Insights: 82

Pat Flynn:
Score: 70
On-Page SEO: 88
Performance: 56
Code Insights: 82

Heather Armstrong:
Score: 63
On-Page SEO: 80
Performance: 51
Code Insights: 80

Noah Kagan
Score: 74
On-Page SEO: 90
Performance: 67
Code Insights: 82

Blogging Mechanic:
Score: 77
On-Page SEO: 84
Performance: 67
Code Insights: 90

The results reported from PageLocity are presented in a clear structured format and the tool gives helpful feedback and recommendations.


Key CDN Tools

The Key CDN Website Speed Test tool is a full-page speed test that can be performed from 14 different locations around the world.

KeyCDN Tools
KeyCDN Tools

For our sample tests, we picked Frankfurt, Germany as the location. The tool doesn’t give ratings, just structured raw data. I’d suggest this is more of a developer’s tool.

PAGELOCITY RESULTS

Neil Patel:
Load Time: 2.3s

Pat Flynn:
Load Time: 2.3s

Heather Armstrong:
Load Time: 6.7s

Noah Kagan
Load Time: 6.7s

Blogging Mechanic:
Load Time: 2.7s


Summary

Use the tools and reports as a guide. Sometimes the scores and recommendations will contradict each other from tool to tool.

Diagnosis is the first step to cure

 Diagnosis is the first step to cure.
Diagnosis is the first step to cure.

Nevertheless, you can usually learn a lot about where you need to improve. If your load time is reported as slow across all tools, then it probably is.

If you are getting reports that you have problems with images, then do something about it.

Images that aren’t optimized, compressed or sized properly can have a major impact on your site’s health.

Likewise, using a good caching plugin can really change things up for the better where speed is concerned.

Finally, use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) – this serves cached files from a server location closer to the person reading your web page. Translation: It’s faster for them.


Don’t know where to start?

Don't know where to start?
Don’t know where to start?

If this is all tech mumbo jumbo then get in touch with me. I offer an Optimization service where I take care of everything for you. My contact info is at the bottom of the post.

However, If you fancy the DIY approach then here are some recommendations.


Hosting

Hosting can make a difference, although you can mitigate a lot of the speed issues by simply using a Content Delivery Network (CDN).

Still, I’d rather use a Virtual Private Server than shared hosting. Personally, I use Cloudways.


Recommended Image Optimization Plugins

If you aren’t optimizing images, then you’re missing a trick. A big trick.

Here is a list of free plugins to help you.

While free, some of the plugins come with restrictions on how many images you can process without upgrading to a more flexible paid version.

If you want to stay with the free approach then I’d suggest trying reSmush.it


Recommended Cache Plugins

You could talk to nine different developers and get nine different recommendations for a cache plugin.

There is no single industry standard. I’m not going to start a war over which one is the best. What I am going to do, is just list a few free ones that will help you to begin with.

Of course, if you are prepared to shell out some cash, there are plenty of premium (paid) plugins that can help knock your blog out of the park such as WP Rocket.


CDN (Content Delivery Network)

There isn’t really an excuse for not using a CDN. Distributing your static content with CloudFlare’s CDN will lead to faster page loading times for your visitors.

Cloudflare offers a free basic CDN.

You could also check out:


Need Help? Get in touch

If you are seriously stuck with this stuff. Drop me a line. I don’t hard sell anything or bite.

Click here to hit me up on Messenger or Whatsapp

Or dare I say, the increasingly “old-fashioned” way of email or contact forms!

We can have your site optimized and humming along the right way!

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