Speed plays a critical role when it comes to your law firm’s website. Why?
- Loading speed affects the user experience. People searching for an attorney will get frustrated if they have to wait for your content to load.
- Website speed plays a role in Google’s search algorithm, so you can expect a faster-loading site to rank higher in SERPs and get more visitors.
Although the average mobile website takes about 15 seconds to load, Google recommends aiming for page load speeds of two seconds or less. The good news is that there are tools you can use to benchmark and monitor your website’s performance. Here are some of the best tools—free and paid—and some tips for running a website speed test.
Website Speed and Performance Testing Tools
There are many free and paid website speed test tools that you can try. You might want to try out several of these services to be thorough:
1. Google PageSpeed Insight and Google Chrome’s Lighthouse (Free)
These two tools are some of the best free page speed testing tools because they come from the search engine giant that holds your website’s SERP fate in its hands.
Google PageSpeed Insight is based on simplicity. Enter your site’s URL and Google will tell you whether your website is slow, average, or fast. The tool also gives scores for your site’s desktop and mobile performance, as well as tips on how to improve your scores.
Google Chrome’s Lighthouse is a free Chrome plugin that checks page performance from your Chrome browser. When you click the “audit” button, you get a report in 90 seconds or less about your webpage’s performance, including page load speeds and opportunities for improvement.
2. Pingdom (Free and Paid)
Pingdom is considered one of the industry-leading website performance measurement tools. It provides a visual waterfall view of your site’s requests that you can filter by load times, file size, and load order. It offers a unique perspective to help you identify problems and make improvements to your website. If you want to access the free version, Pingdom requires that you sign up for a 14-day free trial. Afterward, plans start at just $10/month.
3. WebPageTest (Free)
WebPageTest has simple and advanced features. You can run speed tests of your website from multiple locations. The tool considers the user’s device, browser, cache state, and connection speed. Advanced features allow you to select the number of tests to run and even capture a video of your website loading.
4. GTmetrix (Free and Paid)
GTmetrix is another leading online website performance testing tool. The free version lets you simply enter your website’s URL to run a test. The service gives a performance grade from A to F for your website’s page speed and analysis of why your page might load slow—such as image size. For more detailed results, benchmark tracking, and uptime monitoring, you can register for an account and choose a paid version of the program.
5. Dareboost (Free and Paid)
Dareboost gives you a set of performance scores and optimization recommendations for your site. This is primarily a paid service, but you can get five free reports per month. If you upgrade, you’ll get uptime monitoring and access to advanced settings for website testing.
Bonus Mention: Google Web Vitals (Free)
In May 2020, Google released a new program called Web Vitals. Meant to help website owners and developers optimize user experience, Web Vitals measures page load speeds and provides figures and ratings such as “good,” “needs improvement,” and “poor.”
How to Properly Run a Website Speed Test
Because the internet and certain ISPs become more congested at certain times, running a single website speed test may not give all the information you need. You want the most accurate results to set a reliable benchmark and work on improvement. Here are a few tips on how to measure website performance:
1. Run Multiple Tests
Multiple factors impact your test, and every test you run will return slightly different results. For this reason alone, it’s a good idea to run at least three tests at different times of the day to get an average speed as your benchmark.
2. Test From Different Geographic Locations
If all of your visitors come from the same area, you can skip this step—if all your visitors come from upstate New York, don’t test your website using servers located in Asia or Europe. However, if your visitors come from different areas, it’s a smart idea to test from their various geographic locations and find ways to improve performance—many tools allow you to select server locations to test from.
3. Use a CDN Service
Another way to improve your website’s performance and boost security is to add a Content Delivery Network (CDN) service that supports many of your static website features like scripts, stylesheets, and images.
4. Test on Multiple Platforms
Be sure to run tests on multiple platforms—such as desktop and mobile—and network configurations—wifi, 3G/4G, and so on. Most sites will be crawled by Google’s smartphone bot thanks to its mobile-first index, so you want to ensure that you provide fast speeds and a friendly user experience on mobile 4G as well as high-speed internet desktop environments.
Using these website speed testing tools and practices, you can monitor your website’s speed and improve its performance. Some tools offer more features than others, so consider your needs and choose a service accordingly. Be sure to take advantage of free options or trials before spending money to test your website speed.