According to the Nielson Norman Group, the first 10 seconds of a site’s visit are the most critical time to gain readers’ attention.
Recent research by MachMetrics confirms that the average page loading time is 8.66 seconds, but the recommended load time should be less than 3 seconds.
What this tells us is that if our website’s loading time takes longer than 3 seconds, the likelihood of someone leaving your page will only increase, by 53% to be exact.
It’s clear we need to ensure our WordPress site is functioning at a peak performance. But, how can we tell how long our loading time takes?
Once we know that, how do we go about improving our site’s performance?
Below I will cover where to test your site’s speed and the 5 best WordPress site speed tools to optimize your website’s performance.
Your WordPress Site’s Loading Time
WordPress is one of the largest platforms for online business owners out there. Many users will agree, one of the best features of WordPress is how customizable it is. The downside to this, however, is that generally, the more customized your site is, the slower your site will run.
Finding the best tools to test and improve your WordPress site’s speed will allow you to:
- Gain more customer Leads
- Convert leads into sales
- Rank higher on Google Search Engines
- Improve your overall site performance
Google rates the quality of your website, not by the content that is on your site, but by how efficiently your site is measuring in performance. Without a good ranking from Google, your site will not be recognized on the top of search engines.
Below I will go through some of the best site speed tools on the market, what they do and how to best use them. I have also added in a bonus tool at the end, that I think will help you maintain a peak performing site.
5 free tools you can use to test your WordPress site’s performance.
One of the most popular site speed tests on the web is Pingdom. This tool is overall easy to use and understand, making it a great tool to use for beginners.
Pingdom tests your website by using a Google Chrome web browser, and replicating what an actual user experiences when they load your site. Results include detailed data that lets you know if your site is too fast, too slow or too big. Helpful charts that give you a snapshot of how your site is performing and where it can improve.
Pingdom also has a unique notification setting that immediately alerts you if your site is under-performing or has gone offline. The tool will alert you if your site has any delays whatsoever or if your site requires any critical updates.
Pingdom offers a 14 day free trial to get familiar with the platform. After that, plans start at just $14.95 per month. To download, go to pingdom.com, begin by clicking the “sign up” button or “Start 14 Day Free Trial” button. From there, follow the steps to link with your WordPress site. There are several helpful tutorial videos under the Resources page that will show you how to best monitor your site, add additional pluginsand improve performance monitoring.
GTMetrix site speed tool produces similar results to Pingdom, but with additional data from supporting speed tests. The report page neatly summarizes your page performance speed along with additional analytics from Google PageSpeed, Yahoo and YSlow.
GTMetrix will show you your overall page performance based off of your load time, page size and your total number of requests. The results are highly comprehensive and the tool is easy to use, making it a great tool for tech newbies.
To download GTMetrix, head to the website, GTmetrix.com and sign up. There is an option to try it for free first. Scroll down the page a bit until you see the “Try it For Free” button. Once you click that, it will ask you for your website URL. From there, GTMetrix software will analyze your site speed. The data report will show you your site’s performance score, site details and then breaks down your score bit by bit with scores from A (excellent) to F (fail).
The Basic tool is free, but doesn’t include all of the features. Packages start at $14.95 and go up as you have more URL’s to test.
If you are wanting an all-in-one comprehensive testing service, I would recommend GTMetrix, because it pairs with two additional powerful speed analyzing tools to get you maximum results.
3. Google PageSpeed Insights
Google PageSpeed Insights is a phenomenal tool to learn how you can improve your site with Google. This tool differs from GTMatrix and Pingdom because it does not actually test your speed. Instead, it tells you what Google thinks of your site based off of various analytics.
PageSpeed Insights checks your site in two areas: first as a desktop user and then as a mobile user. From there, it grades your overall site performance based off of ten different performance metrics.
Since this tool is not a speed testing tool, it doesn’t give you a completely accurate grade on speed. It is more of a measurement of how your site is performing within Google. The data will show you:
- If your browser caching plugin is working as well as you’d like
- Specific details on how you can improve your speed (where you’re slow)
It’s important to note that the score from PageSpeed Insights is NOT 100% accurate, so don’t take that number to heart. Instead, use GTMetrix or Pingdom to test your speed more accurately. Still, use PageSpeed Insights to identify problem areas and then fix them with your other tools.
To use, head to the website, and plug in your site’s URL for free. From there, you will be redirected to your results page. It’s not as detailed as GTMetrix, but again, it will give you a good idea on areas that need your attention.
YSlow is very similar to Google PageSpeed Insights, as it is not a site speed measurement tool. Instead, it is a web analyzing tool that checks out your sites speed based off of Yahoo’s rules for high performance websites. The results come up as a checklist of recommendations for improved site performance.
YSlow is free to use and quite simple to understand. The site literally takes you step by step through the downloading process to make it simple. You’ll have a couple of different use options. If you have GTMetrix, you can run a GTMetrix test and then select the YSlow tab from the results dashboard to test your site. Or, download directly from a Chrome Browser and run the tests from there.
5. Web Page Test
Web Page Test is a free web tool that tests your site speed from multiple locations around the globe using real browsers, at real connection speeds. You can run simple tests or advanced tests, depending on your needs. Tests include content blocking tests, video testing, multi-step transactions and much more. Results are displayed using waterfall charts, pie graphs and grades based off median test scores.
WebPageTest.org’s test results are based off of average connection speeds around the world. This means that you may score a bit slower than you would at GTMetrix or Pingdom, but your speed is more representative of “real world” speeds.
The best thing about WebPageTest.org is that once the test has been run and you have your results, the tool will give you advice and recommendations for fixing your site performance. It’s super easy to use. Simply go to the website, enter in your URL and click “Start Test”. It’s totally free and pretty simple to use.
When it comes to website performance, there is one final tool that I thought was deserving of this post. Load Impact is unlike the other tests on this list because it doesn’t test your website’s speed. Instead, it measures your sites server performance.
It’s designed to let you know if your site can handle multiple users browsing your site at the same time without slowing your site down.
The test takes about five minutes to perform and tests 25 virtual users all at once. This first test is free. Depending on your site’s volume, you can have Load Impact test up to 5000 users at one time. For this kind of test, you’ll have to sign up to a membership, but if you have this kind of demand, it will be worth it. Paid packages start at $99 and go up from there, depending on your needs.
It’s important to keep in mind that adding a simple caching plugin on your site may also help improve your site’s overall performance, too. I recommend using WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache to improve your sites caching and speed up your loading time.
That being said, the tools mentioned in this post are the most powerful site speed tools on the market. They are effective and highly rated by WordPress business owners. When it comes to site performance, speed needs to be as quick as possible in order to capture your audience, retain them and ideally convert leads into sales.