To understand why that’s a problem, think back to the last time you visited a website which loaded up very slowly. I know for myself, if a website is taking too long to load, I won’t bother waiting for it. I’ll go back to Google and look for something else.
Worse, Google won’t wait for you either. When the Google crawler drops by your website and tries to index it, it wants to get done with your site and move on to another one quickly. If your site is slow, then the crawler will give up and your site won’t get indexed. Both of these things mean lost visitors and potential lost income.
But what if you have some flash animation and some widgets, but you’re not sure if you’ve got too much going on? It’s simple to figure that out – you just use one of these free tools to find out how fast your website is really loading up:
Offered by Google, this tool is a Firefox plugin which also requires firebug. It works well and is simple to use. The best part about it is that it will even tell you what to do to improve the load times on your site. The only thing it doesn’t do is tell you whether the score it gives you is a good one or not.
My personal finance blog scored an 86 and I did some checking around to find out whether that was good or not. Apparently, anything above an 83 is considered very good as the top results on Google range from and an 80-86 score.
Another Firefox plugin which also works with Firebug, this one is available from Yahoo! as opposed to Google. It does a similar job, telling you what you’re doing wrong and offering you a grade to show you how well you are doing compared to other websites that have been evaluated by the system prior to yours.
One nice feature about Y! Slow however is that it comes with a program called Smushit. Smushit allows you to optimize the images on your website automatically, something which is key to making your website run faster and load more smoothly. It’s a lossless system so that it doesn’t detract from the quality of the images either.
Finally, Web Page Test is a little bit different because it doesn’t require you to download anything. Instead, you simply enter your website address and let the system check the speed of your site by choosing a server close to it (or far away, whichever you prefer).
Like the other tools here, it tells you what you’re doing wrong and gives you a score (89/100 in the case of my personal finance blog by the way).