How to test the performance of your own website. Owning and running a website is no longer the preserve of big corporations – many individual people now have their own – whether it be a blog, a hobbyist web forum, a site to advertise their own small business or even an online shop.
You may spend a lot of time posting content to your site, updating it and even advertizing it to gain more visitors but have you ever tested its performance?
Web design and SEO (search engine optimization) companies can conduct thorough tests of a site’s performance (for a hefty price) but the following 3 free sites can provide a basic guide to whether yours is performing as well as it should.
1. Speed – Does your website load up (open) quickly? Web surfers are impatient people – if a site is slow to open they may move on to another. Even if yours loads quickly on your own computer using your web browser, what about other web browsers and visitors from other countries/states?
This is particularly relevant if your main target audience is in another country/state or use a different web browser (60% of people don’t use Internet Explorer – they use alternatives like Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Opera).
To test the speed: type your website address into Pingdom here and click ‘Test Now’. A time in seconds will be recorded – the less time the better, preferably a maximum of 3 seconds. You can change the country/continent by clicking the Settings button – some variance is expected due to internet traffic but if you get consistently poor results on 1 particular web browser/country you may want to investigate further and take another look at your site design or even hosting company.
A more thorough test is offered by GTmetrix here – each report includes some great tips on optimizing a site.
2. Compatibility – Most people use 1 web browser on 1 operating system with a fixed screen size/resolution to view their own webpages and think that if it looks nice and pretty for them it must look equally good on all other operating systems, web browsers and different sized screens.
Sadly this is not always true – your pages may look great on a high spec PC using Internet Explorer and a 22 inch monitor but terrible on a laptop using Firefox and a 15 inch screen. Unless you want to lose a large part of your target audience it is a good idea to test how your pages look on a wide range of web browsers and screen resolutions.
To test what your website looks like in different types of system (without having to buy 100’s of computers) – type your web address into Browsershots here which provides multiple screenshots of your webpage using various browsers.
Initially, almost every browser for every operating system will be ticked – if you want to narrow down the screenshots then make selections in the menu at the bottom of the page e.g. Windows only. You can also choose a screen size if you want to test a particular size.
When you have chosen the settings you want, click Submit to begin the process – there may be a queue for results (could up to an hour if you have selected everything or they are inundated with queries) but you can come back to it and see the results later on. When complete, you should see screenshots of your website for each browser (click on the small screenshots to see a full picture) and you can tell if your design looks as good for others as it does for you!
3. Backlinks – The SEO field is too large (and sometimes murky!) to delve into very deeply in this article but most webmasters know that the more genuine backlinks (links to your site from another site) you have, the higher your site may feature in search results (Google etc) – leading more visitors to you.
To check how many backlinks your website has – use the Backlink Watch website here – just enter your website address and click the Check Backlinks button to build a report of all the websites linking to your website. The more the merrier!
Over a period of time you will hopefully see the numbers grow – if you do not have many at the moment it is worth trying to gain more by publicizing your website through social media and forums etc.