4 free tools to audit your website for top performance

Kevin Mullins

Are you struggling to increase leads, conversions, and sales from your website? Your company’s website could be the weakest link in your digital marketing strategy. A site audit may be just the thing you need to figure out what’s going on.

Before we get to that, we need to ask why it’s important.

Why does website speed, security and clarity matter?

We all agree that a slow-loading or confusing website is a nuisance. How many times have you tried to visit a new site only to sit there and wait?

According to Google’s 2018 report, 53% of mobile users left a website that took just 3 seconds to load!

Or, you find something promising in search, but the website content is so confusing you can’t interpret what it’s about!

How vital are website speed, security, and clarity? Extremely important. Google penalizes slow-loading, non-secure, and non-responsive websites — a serious obstacle when you’re fighting for better keyword rankings and search position.

Worse, if your content is confusing or unclear, visitors bounce away to the waiting arms of your competition. Krista Seiden, an Analytics Advocate at Google, writes:

Page speed is one of the most overlooked and yet most important factors in customer attention, retention, and ultimately, converting browsers to buyers. Ensuring that you’re taking measures to increase page speed or reduce lag can be the difference between failure and success.

Krista Seiden, Google

Anna Foster recently compiled a beautiful infographic to explain the state of website speeds in 2019.

And according to MachMetrics, service industry websites fair even worse! The load time for Automotive, Business and Industrial industries, technology and other service-based business sites is a whopping 10-second average!

Average website load times
* Source MachMetrics https://www.machmetrics.com/speed-blog/average-page-load-times-websites-2018/

Free Tools To Audit Your Site for Speed, Clarity, Security

So what can you do about a slow-loading website? Here are four free tools to audit your website and optimize it for performance and conversions.

Tool #1: Perform The Grunt Test

The first tool in our arsenal isn’t a tool at all; it’s a method. You need to evaluate your homepage’s content for clarity, especially the words in the header.

Your website’s header is prime real estate and super important. It’s the first thing visitors see when they visit your website and the primary reason they’ll bounce away.

People won’t stick around if your content isn’t immediately clear.

Donald Miller calls this the grunt test.

The grunt test idea is that your content should be so clear and concise, a cave dweller could understand it.

Putting the Grunt Test to the Test

To test this theory, I picked some random search terms (keywords), a random industry, in a random city and chose some random links on the first search result page.

Here’s an example of what I found:

Screen Shot 2019 08 08 at 11.44.29

This random service industry website is clearly a manufacturing company. But, the website doesn’t tell us much about its products or services. They may know what they do, but the rest of us can’t.

As an outsider, their vague words and photos make it impossible to decipher what they do, let alone how they might help me. Crystal clear to them, confusing for the rest of us.

Sadly, this website fails the grunt test.

Tool #2: Evaluate Site Speed

Every second spent waiting for your site to load is precious seconds of lost business.

The data is clear and irrefutable: customers do not wait for slow sites. Especially on mobile. They bounce away to find another provider who’s site loads faster.

The most effective way to guarantee rapid load speeds is quality hosting on managed cloud servers.

Don’t get suckered in by low-cost web hosts. Penny-pinching on cheap hosting could equal a fortune in lost business.

Cheap hosting is just that, cheap. Before you optimize images and add caching plugins, ensure your business website is properly cared for — including great hosting.

Free Speed Tests

As you audit your website for top performance, you need to monitor your website’s load times. Here are two of the best speed test websites on the market:

Pingdom
Pingdom Website Speed Test
GTMetrix
GTMetrix Website Speed Grader

Both speed test websites are fantastic for measuring things like server load times, image sizes, and time-to-first-byte (server responsiveness). Best of all, they’re free to use.

Pepsi Speed Test
Speed test results for Pepsi.com

Just submit your URL, choose a relevant server location, and submit. You’ll get a report that reveals issues lurking on your site or server along with suggestions to downscale media or delay certain scripts.

Tool #3: Scan Your Site Map

Ever wondered how big your site is? If your website is several years old, there’s a good chance you have links, pages, or posts rattling around on your site, forgotten.

Before we ever do a website redesign or rebuild, we perform a site scan to report the size and depth of the website.

Screaming Frog is a free link crawler (aka SEO spider tool) to survey your website and build an accurate map of your site.

With Screaming Frog you can find broken links, audit redirects, analyse page titles & metadata, review robots & directives, generate XML sitemaps, visualise site architecture, and more. Best of all? It’s free for up to 500 URLs! What a deal.

Tool #4: Confirm Your Site Security

The last tool in our list comes in extra handy when trying to make a website secure. Have you ever wondered about the little green padlock in the URL bar?

The padlock tells you that the connection between you and the site you’re viewing has been independently certified “secure” by a security certificate.

Red = non-secure
Green = secure

Why is a secure website relevant? In 2017, Google began notifying Google Search Console users that they would flag non-secure websites to visitors. Most site owners ignored Google’s warnings.

So in 20018, Google began displaying a red padlock and a non-secure warning on http websites. To make matters worse, some SEO experts now believe that Google is downranking insecure websites in the Google search results.

We know that Google started weighting SSL/HTTPS in their search algorithms back in 2014, so it’s a distinct possibility.

Bottom line? Secure your site.

Most modern hosts provide Let’s Encrypt security certificates which allow you to add a layer of security to your website, for free. We include them in our Care Packages, for example. Once you’ve installed your security certificate, you can use Why No Padlock to find those pesky insecure elements.

Google will reward you, and your visitors will thank you. Double bonus!

HCW CTA SM

What’s Stopping You?

A digital marketing strategy is only as good as the weakest link. Use these four tools to get your website working like it should. A fast secure website can be your company’s best salesperson; rewarding you with increased visits, click, leads, and ultimately, conversions.

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