Measuring Website Speed: 5 Helpful Speed Testing Tools
By Matthew Edgar · Last Updated: January 17, 2024
There are many different tools available that can help you analyze and measure your website’s speed and performance. While some of these are more involved tools that measure all aspects of the page’s speed, like WebPageTest, there are also plenty of simple, free tools that evaluate specific aspects of a website’s performance. In this article, I’ll review five of the most helpful free and simple tools available.
Time to First Byte measures how quickly the server sends the first the first byte of data back to the browser after receiving a request. There are many steps involved in this process, starting with the browser retrieving DNS information, connecting to the server, negotiating the SSL certificate, and processing the request. ByteCheck is a free and simple tool that measures the total Time to First Byte and measures the time taken to complete each step of the process. In this example, the total Time to First Byte was 269 milliseconds and the longest step in the process was negotiating the SSL certificate, which took 192.67 milliseconds to complete. Improving Time to First Byte would require reviewing the SSL certificate.
Time to First Byte can change based on the visitor’s geographic location. If a visitor is located further away from the website’s server, it will take longer for the browser to make the connection to the server. It simply takes time for data to move across the globe.
SpeedVitals measures Time to First Byte across 40 different locations. You do not need to improve speed across all regions. Instead, focus on the measurements for where your website’s visitors are located. In the following example, this website has very slow Time to First Byte measurements throughout Asia, the South Pacific, and Africa. If this website has a significant number of visitors in those regions, this represents a big problem. If this website does not have visitors in these regions, then this is a non-issue.
Page Size Checker
How fast a webpage can load depends on how big the webpage is. When testing website speed, it is important to check the byte size of multiple pages on the website. There is no correct byte size, though smaller sizes will tend to load faster. Google only crawls the first 15 megabytes of a page, however nearly all webpages are much smaller than 15 megabytes.
One way to check how large your website’s pages are is with SmallSEOTools’ Website Page Size Checker. This is a simple and free tool. Enter up to 10 URLs you want to test. It will analyze those pages and return a simple report listing the size in bytes and kilobytes. Pages with a larger byte size should be reviewed to see what opportunities exist to reduce the page size.
HTML and CSS Size Analyzer
If you are trying to reduce the size of your website’s pages, you need to know which attributes contribute the most to the page size. This requires investigating the page’s HTML and CSS code. You want to identify the biggest CSS rules and HTML tags.
DebugBear’s HTML Size Analyzer and CSS Size Analyzer analyze your website’s code to determine the byte size of each HTML tag and each CSS rule. It returns a bar chart with the sizes, as shown in the screenshot below. This helps narrow down where you should focus your optimization efforts.
DebugBear offers several other helpful tools, including a free website test that looks at more aspects of how the website loads. This website test includes a video recording of the website’s load and recommendations to make your website faster.
Bulk Speed Test
When testing website speed, it is helpful to look at the speed of several pages at once. That way you can identify which pages need to be investigated more deeply and optimized. Measuring in bulk can also be helpful as part of regular reporting.
Experte.com’s Page Speed Test provides a free tool to test multiple pages at once. You can let the tool crawl your website or enter a list of specific URLs to test. They also have a keyword feature where you can enter a search term and this tool will test the speed on the top 50 URLs that rank for that term. The keyword feature is a helpful way to evaluate the speed of competitor websites.
After the test runs, a table is provided showing various metrics across multiple pages. This does include two of the Core Web Vitals metrics, Largest Contentful Paint and Cumulative Layout Shift. This report also provides a link to view more details in PageSpeed Insights.
These tools are only the beginning. There are a lot of things to consider when evaluating your website’s speed and there are many ways of measuring your website’s speed. If you have questions or need help, contact me.