Website performance is a major factor of search engine optimization. No amount of clever keyword deployment or strategic link building can prop up a site that has not been optimized to provide a positive user experience.
Website speed, the time it takes for any given page to load on a visitor’s browser, lies at the heart of every website’s user experience. It is also a major factor in the way that Google evaluates a website’s search ranking.
Websites that are slow to load experience higher bounce rates, enjoy fewer return visits, and ultimately lose ground in online search results. Which is why ensuring that the pages of your website are quick to load is so important.
But how can you gauge the speed of your site, and what tools are available to help your evaluate your site’s page speed? I’ve put together a sampling of some of the more popular tools available to help you evaluate your websites load time.
1. Google PageSpeed Insights
Pages are graded from 0 to 100, with a score of 85 or better indicating your page is performing satisfactorily. PageSpeed also delivers a detailed report which highlights any areas where your site needs to be improved to facilitate better load times.
2. Yahoo’s YSlow
Like Google’s PageSpeed, Yahoo YSlow analyzes the on-page aspects of a given web page and suggests ways in which it’s overall performance can be improved. YSlow runs on a number of different platforms, including Firefox, Safari, Chrome and Opera as a browser add-on. Alternatively, you can get your YSlow grade by using GT Metrix.
YSlow crawls your web page, grading it on either a predetermined rule-set or a user defined rule-set. It then provides a summary of your page’s performance, with detailed statistics on its overall load time.
Finally, YSlow offers suggestions for improving your page’s performance, and provides further tools for performance analysis.
3. Web Page Test
This is one of my favorites because it’s very well organized into a nice chart that gives you a full optimization checklist. Web Page Test also shows the elusive “time to first byte” (TTFB), giving you clues into your server setup, typically involving slow database queries. There are many ways to optimize and reduce server response time.
Pingdom grades your web pages on the same scale as Google PageSpeed, and suggests ways in which your site can be improved to bring it in line with Google and Yahoo’s best practices.
Uniquely, Pingdom also keeps a record of your website’s performance history so that you can chart its progress over time. Unlike other services that provide only a one time test, Piingdom can continuously monitors your website and send notifications direct to your in-box when there is a performance issue that demands your attention.
5. Which Loads Faster
Which Loads Faster takes the standard speed test and turns it on its ear, allowing you to compare and contrast the load times of two different websites. Which Loads Faster is an open source tool, and can accommodate most of the popular browsers.
While the analysis offered is slim, it does give you an opportunity to pit your website against a competitors to see whose is performing better on the web.
Page speed is an important factor when it comes to optimizing your website for better online performance. It not only effects how end users interact with your content, but also how Google and other search engines evaluate and rank your website.
These are only a few of the many speed testing tools that are available to interested webmasters. Each offers a different insight into the performance of your website, and as tools to enhance your online performance should not be overlooked.