There is no doubt about it; the performance of your website will have a huge bearing on the ultimate success or failure of your business.
This is an inescapable fact in the digital age, particularly when you consider that global online sales are expected to exceed $1.5 trillion in the current calendar year alone.
With this number also expected to increase incrementally over the course of the next decade, we will eventually reach a point where e-commerce platforms are established as the dominant sales channels.
As this evolution unfolds, brands that operate inadequate or poor-performing websites will ultimately be left in the dust by their forward-thinking rivals.
Website performance is already a major concern for businesses and consumers alike, with an estimated 39% of all mobile users apparently unhappy with their online experience. With slow-loading pages and frequent site crashes raised as the most prominent issues, it is crucial that your business acts now to ensure the validity and reliability of your website.
5 Free tools that will help you to monitor your website performance
As the saying goes, “if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it”.
Marketing your business online doesn’t have to cost the earth, you can easily market your business on a tight budget.
The modern-day Internet is laden with free-to-access tools that enable you to monitor the performance of your website in real-time.
This will offer you an insight into any issues that exist with your site, while some will even provide solutions to help you overcome.
With this in mind, we have selected five of the most influential tools that can deliver a constantly accessible and high-performance website.
#1 – Google Analytics
While Google Analytics is often referred to as a paid tool, it is actually free-to-access and available to every single webmaster and business-owners.
The confusions often arise as a result of its nature, as it is typically used to measure your advertising ROI based on PPC and SEO spends.
Make no mistake; however, Google Analytics is a powerful freemium tool that can offer huge value to your business. It has evolved over time to track Flash, video and social networking metrics, while its growing data-sets have also made it ideal for measuring traffic sources and interpreting consumer behaviour.
So not only can you understand where the majority of your traffic comes from, but you can also measure the performance of individual landing pages and determine which have the highest bounce and abandonment rates, as well as setting goals to measure which channels are resulting in leads for your business.
#2 – Screaming Frog
Screaming Frog spider is the swiss-army-knife of SEO. The software is able to crawl your entire site and report on technical issues such as 404 pages, dead internal links, duplicate content issues and MUCH more.
These technical pitfalls can really hold your website back in search rankings, and using the free version allows crawling up to 500 URLs, which is perfect for small websites.
Implementing these technical changes can give you a serious ranking boost, and also improve the overall user experience of your website.
The tool may seem initially overwhelming, however, once you get familiar with the functionalities, it becomes a breeze.
Here is a user guide to help you get started.
#3 – Pingdom
In terms of your website’s usability, we have already touched on how slow-loading landing pages can be a massive deterrent to customers.
This has been reinforced by recent studies, with one in particular confirming that almost 50% of web users expect pages to load within two seconds or less.
The same respondents also claimed that they tend to abandon a website that isn’t fully loaded within three seconds, meaning that your brand has a limited window of opportunity to capture visitor engagement.
This is why tools such as Pingdom have become so popular in recent times, as they offer easy to use and mst importantly free speed tests across all of your internal landing pages.
After a quick and seamless test, the tool will display the precise load time of a specific web page and grade its performance according to a number of crucial, predetermined metrics.
These quick but detailed tests will provide you with huge data-sets, while highlighting the individual pages that may be driving customers away.
The site will also inspect the performance of these pages in greater detail and offer some insight into why they are taking so long to load in relation to others.
In most cases, this will enable you to make instant changes, although there may be times when you need to redesign elements of your website and remove certain graphic or rich media elements.
While one-off Pingdom tests are free-to-access access, you can pay for the tool to continuously monitor the speed, up-time and performance of your landing pages. This may be an expense that you can do without, however, particularly once you have a consistent theme and website structure.
#4 – GTmetrix
GTMetrix is a similar tool, and one that also measures the speed and performance of your website. This tool goes a step further, however, as not only does it highlight potential loading issues with your website but it also automatically corrects those that relate to graphical elements and images.
Often, slow-loading pages are hampered by an excess of large images and graphical elements. Along with videos that are hosted directly on a website landing pages, these issues are commonplace and can have a highly detrimental impact on performance. So once the GTMetrix tool has identified which images are slowing down individual loading times, it will then compress these graphics to the correct size.
This provides an instant solution to a difficult problem, particularly if you only have a few images located across your website.
#5 – Peek User Testing
Whenever people talk about Google algorithms, they talk about technicalities and the metrics that are used to analyse individual websites.
It should not be forgotten that Google have also introduced humanism as a metric when measuring websites, by employing people who utilise and then analyse sites based on factors such as ease-of-use, the readability of content and the overall experience available to visitors.
This is, therefore, an important performance metric for your website, and one that you can measure with the free Peek User Testing Tool.
This basically replicates the way in which Google’s employees work when ranking websites, as it allows you to connect with real-world users and share your site with them.
They will then browse your website and provide an honest critique, reviewing every aspect of its performance and rating the experience that they had while online.
You can check your site at alternative stages too, whether it is the finished article or at a beta stage where a specific elements requires testing.
Regardless of when or how you use this tool, the key is to get human feedback and determine whether or not your concept actually works.
If you prioritise this type of testing as early as you possibly can, you can also identify any core usability issues and iron these out before they impact on the user experience or your sales conversion rate.
The Bottom Line
These tools are just some of many that are available online, many of which are free-to-access and capable of delivering incredible insight into your website performance. From the sourcing of relevant keywords and traffic analytics to the creation of a fast and efficient website, they can also help you to optimise the user experience and convert as many potential leads as you possibly can in the future.
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