79 Free Tests and Services to Improve Your Website
Once your website is up and running, you need to make sure it’s performing at its best. That means checking the loading time, making sure there are no coding errors, and ensuring it’s indexed in search engines. There are a number of website tests and services that can help you with this.
If you visit your website yourself to check it, you might not get a clear picture of underlying errors. It’s difficult to detect problems with the code, or the DNS settings at your registrar, just from looking at the page in a browser. To stay informed, run through the resources in this article to make your site the best it can be.
Most of the tools in this guide are free, and you won’t need to create an account to use the majority of them. If a tool has a paid version that may be worth considering, we’ve noted it in the description.
Test for Speed and Performance
Your website speed is important. If a page loads slowly, the visitor may simply backtrack, and you’ll probably lose that sale to a competitor. The speed of your site can also affect your search engine rankings, so it’s important to carry out frequent website tests so you can tweak your site or hosting plan.
- Pingdom is a well-known speed tester that ranks your site out of 100 for performance. Its instant, free report gives you your page load speed in seconds. (Requires signup. No charge will be made if subscription is canceled within 30 days.)
- Uptrends’ Website Speed Test lets you choose which location to test from; choose from dozens of cities all over the world.
- BasicState checks your website every 15 minutes. If it discovers a problem, it reports via email or text message.
- WebSitePulse lets you check your website speed from three continents.
- WebPageTest provides detailed statistics on site speed, MIME types, and other technical aspects of your site loading speed.
- PageSpeed Insights is Google’s official site speed checking tool, and offers you a chance to see how long it takes Google’s crawlers to index your data.
- WebsiteTest is another speed checker that reports the time it takes to render and display your website.
- Site24x7 checks website availability from more than 50 locations simultaneously; you can customize the locations it uses from the search box. (Limited free tools; regular accounts come with 30 day trial without credit card.)
- GTMetrix is a speed checker with an extra feature: it offers specific tips that will help to improve load time. If you register, you can record videos of your site loading so you can determine which elements are causing the page to slow down.
- Monitive is an uptime monitoring service with a simple, attractive interface. (Its free test is extremely basic, but you can upgrade for a fee.)
- Dotcom Monitor checks your site speed from 23 locations worldwide.
- WhatsMyIp has a HTTP compression test.
Check Your SEO
Search engines use keywords to determine the theme of your website, and they use this information to rank it for organic search queries. It’s important to see your website through Google’s “eyes.” Use these checkers to ensure your optimization strategy is working, and detect problems with the structure of a page that could be causing your rank to slip.
- Webmaster Tools shows you exactly how your site appears in Google’s index; handy if you want to tweak its appearance.
- Nibbler does a great deal to address issues with your website. It checks your internal links on a subset of pages to make sure they have descriptive link text, rather than things like “click here.” Its Headings report creates a tag cloud of your heading keywords, so you can check whether your content is properly represented. Nibbler also checks the average word count on your pages, and the number of incoming links you have, and a range of factors, including links to social media accounts, the amount of content on your website, your images, and how easy pages are to print. Note that it only tests 5 pages, but it gives you some idea of the user experience you offer without the cost of paying for live user testing. Finally, it scores your website out of 10, looking at internal links, mobile compatibility, code quality, headings, page titles, and URL format across 5 sample pages.
- SEO SiteCheckup has an easy-to-use interface and shows you practical ways to improve your score.
- Chkme provides a short, basic report on your site’s structure.
- IsMyBlogWorking reports a range of useful stats that could affect your SEO, including details about your robots.txt, search engine listings, CMS version, site speed, and RSS feed.
- WooRank analyzes your site’s meta descriptions, titles, keywords and other components to see where improvements can be made.
- PlugInSEO send regular SEO reports to your email address, for free, and displays instant reports about SEO problems on your site.
- PowerMapper’s SEO Optimization Checker tool checks against Google, Yahoo and Bing guidelines, as well as general best practice recommendations. PowerMapper also has a compatibility check that warns of inconsistencies in certain browsers. Its check includes desktop browsers from IE7 onwards. You can also see whether your site has any W3C Standards compliance issues. And it compares your site against Usability.gov standards and picks out pages that violate its guidelines.
- Site Analyzer provides percentage scores for SEO, content, design, performance and accessibility, and presents improvements in a handy checklist. It also creates a handy overview graph showing the issues you need to work on.
- SEO Web Page Analyzer lets you quickly check your headings, meta description, keywords, and more. It also provides detailed statistics about your internal and external links, link juice, and image tags.
- SEOCentro has a suite of SEO checkers, including an optimization analyzer, tag analyzer, keyword density checker, and a keyword suggestion tool.
- Found performs a canonical domain check to ensure your website resolves to the same URL using WWW and non-WWW addresses.
- Screaming Frog is a desktop application that provides a full site audit. If you like lots of detail about links, images, and code, this is the tool for you.
Refine Your Content
Content is the heart and soul of a website. If it’s thin, or badly structured, it’ll fail to bring in the traffic you need. Content should be written with humans in mind, yet it needs the right component parts to ensure search engines understand how to index it and that it loads quickly. Use these checks to scan for duplicate content, plagiarism, and content that is difficult to read.
- Word2CleanHTML lets you strip weird Word formatting from content before pasting it into a CMS, so you don’t wind up with strange characters or formatting.
- Copyscape scans the web for duplicate wording, so you can quickly see if anyone’s stealing your content. It detects exact copies, and also close matches that may indicate plagiarism or spinning.
- Siteliner quickly finds duplicate content within your own website, and pulls out broken links, the average number of words per page, and the number of links on your pages.
- Clarity Grader scans your content for readability. (It requires that you sign up for a 7-day free trial to use it.)
- The SmallSEOTools Plagiarism Checker lets you check articles for spun content; it’s ideal if you hire a freelance writer, and you want to check their work is unique before you publish it.
- SEOBook’s Keyword Density Analyzer lets you see how often your keywords appear on a page. Don’t over-optimize, as an unnatural amount of keywords will make your content difficult to read.
- Online Broken Link Checker provides simple website tests for broken links. It pinpoints their exact location in the HTML, making removal or correction really simple.
- The Readability Test from Juicy Studio offers a number of website tests using the Gunning Fox index, the Flesch-Kincaid scale, and grade level tests, and it explains how to interpret the results from the different tests. If you’re a beginner, this is a great place to start.
- Read-able provides scores for Flesch Kincaid, Gunning Fog, SMOG, Coleman Liau, and Automated readability, as well as an estimated minimum age for the reader, and the number of complex words in your content.
- Readability-Score scans content and provides a Flesch Kincaid Reading Ease score. Content has to be scanned page by page in the free version, but you can bulk scan if you become a paying member.
- CSS Drive allows you to compress CSS code to improve loading time.
Ensure Your Website Is Accessible
Website accessibility guidelines help to make the web usable for disabled users. That might include people with visual problems, such as colorblindness, or people who find it difficult to use a mouse. It’s important to remember that no tool can fully replace a human viewer, but a combination of website tests will indicate where potential problems lie.
- Cynthia Says scans your website and tells you if the content is accessible. It measures against Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, and W3C WCAG standards.
- AChecker scans your HTML for accessibility problems, focusing on the content.
- Color Oracle is a desktop application that simulates color-blindness, allowing you to see your website graphics through the eyes of a color-blind visitor.
- WAVE picks out low contrast areas on your website; these could make links and buttons difficult to read for people with visual impairments.
- The Accessibility Color Wheel lets you pick out color combinations that will make your website easier for color-blind people to use.
- Accessibility Developer Tools is a Google extension for your browser. It adds accessibility panes to the default developer toolkit in Chrome.
- Adobe’s Acrobat DC includes a feature that lets you scan PDF documents for accessibility problems. This is handy for any business that offers downloadable help files, brochures, or forms.
- aXe Developer Tools is a Firefox plugin that scans websites for accessibility problems.
- NoCoffee is a Chrome extension that lets you view your website in different modes: low acuity, low contrast sensitivity, color-blindness, or an obstructed visual field. (Direct link to plugin: install NoCoffee.)
Check Compatibility Across Different Desktop Browsers
Do you check your website in different browsers, just to check that it renders correctly? In recent years, browsers have become more standards compliant, but many of your viewers could be using old browsers, or operating systems you don’t have access to. Make sure everyone who visits your site can use it, and iron out browser compatibility issues with these tools.
- NetRenderer lets you check how your website will look in Internet Explorer versions 5.5 to 11. It’s rare to find older versions in use, but some visitors will be stuck with them, so it’s best to resolve as many errors as you can.
- BrowserShots provides screenshots of how your site appears in different browsers, and on different operating systems. This is a great way to understand what a particular visitor is seeing when they report problems with your website.
- BrowserStack shows website compatibility for more than 700 different browsers and browser versions. You can generate screenshots for a variety of platforms; the checker includes mobile and desktop devices. (You must sign up for a free trial.)
Validate Your DNS Records
The domain name system (DNS) allows your computer to find any site on the web. In order to be fully visible, your DNS records need to be correct, but getting the settings right can be challenging for novices and non-techies. DNS records also include critical data that ensures your email account works correctly, so it’s imperative that you scan your DNS periodically, and every time you swap web hosts.
- WhatsMyDNS lets you check whether your domain name has fully propagated by scanning servers around the globe. This is handy if you’ve just moved hosts and want to ensure your nameserver changes have been fully replicated.
- Pingdom’s DNSCheck tool performs six website tests on your DNS settings to make sure there are no errors with your zone.
- Uptrends offers a handy DNS report that quickly scans SOA, NS, A, MX, and TXT records.
- IntoDNS offers a comprehensive report on every aspect of your website DNS, and clearly highlights errors or aspects which could be improved.
- ViewDNS offers a clutch of DNS tools for webmasters. Check whether your site is down, access your DNS records, or find all of the sites sharing your nameservers. You can also check whether your site is blocked in China or Iran.
Make Sure Your Site Looks Great on Mobile
Mobile devices are increasing in number, so you need to make sure your website looks good on phones and tablets. This pleases visitors and makes your site easier to use. Google also ranks mobile-friendly sites higher than sites that haven’t been mobile optimized, so it’s a good idea to run thorough checks each time you tweak your theme.
- Google Mobile-Friendly Test determines whether your site looks good on mobile devices.
- MobiReady shows you how your site looks on different types of mobile devices.
- Screenfly shows you what your website looks like at different screen resolutions. You can select specific devices to see exactly what users see in their browser window.
- MobileTest.me displays your website in a mobile emulator; choose from a range of devices and operating systems. You can interact with your site exactly as you would if you were really viewing it on that device, so you have a full realtime preview of how it renders.
- BrowserStack’s Responsive Design Tester shows you how your website looks on different devices. Rotate through landscape and portrait mode, and take screenshots of your site as it appears on that device. (You must sign up for a free trial to use it.)
- iPadPeek lets you browse the web using a virtual iPad or iPhone.
- AmIResponsive shows a quick preview of a URL in four different screen sizes.
- W3C’s mobileOK checker offers a basic mobile-friendly test.
Verify and Correct Code Errors
Code mistakes can wreak havoc on your website, affecting its layout, functionality, or speed. Even if you’re a competent coder, you could unwittingly introduce mistakes when you install new themes and plugins. These checkers will quickly scan your HTML, CSS, and scripting languages to pick out validation errors in a matter of seconds.
- HTML Validator Pro is a quality tester for your site; it scans the site’s HTML code to make sure that it’s valid. It also checks spelling when it scans your site.
- The W3C CSS Validation Service checks your live CSS code for errors.
- There’s also a W3C Validation Service for HTML, XHTML, SMIL and MathML.
- HTML Tidy automatically scans HTML files for potential improvements.
Measure User Experience and Usability
A webmaster’s opinion of their own website will often vary greatly from a visitor’s opinion. User experience (UX) is key to understanding how pleasing your website is, while usability is a measure of how easy it is to complete a task. UX and usability are complex, so many of these services use real people.
- TryMyUI offers you the chance to observe a real person using your site. You pay a fee for every user that visits, and in return, you get an audio and video recording of their experience. You can also create a questionnaire for the user to fill out. (You can get a single user test as a trial for free.)
- UsabilityHub gives you the chance to capture a visitor’s first impression of your site using its FiveSecondTest tool. It also offers first-click, navigation, and A/B design tests, plus the chance to collect feedback in a questionnaire. Basic website tests are free (registration required), and a professional version is also available.
- LuckyOrange records video of each user’s visit, so you can see exactly what they looked at, and how far they scrolled down the page. The aim is to pick out problem areas, where people get stuck or frustrated on your site. (Requires registration.)
Gather Statistics About Your Site’s Performance
To continually improve your website, check your stats and reports frequently. Analytics tell you what has happened in the past so that you can tweak and improve it based on evidence. You probably have at least one stats package installed, but it’s a good idea to have at least two working side-by-side, since each gives a slightly different picture.
- Google Analytics is the free web analytics tool every site owner must use. Installation takes a couple of minutes, yet it collects vast amounts of data about user behavior and site statistics.
- LuckyOrange has a Heat Maps tool that detects the location of each click or tap. It displays these visually over your website layout, so you can see the things people are clicking on most — and the areas that are being ignored. (Free trial is available.)
- WordPress has its own Statistics tool that offers data on your site’s content and performance. It’s a great way to see which posts are performing well, and which ones are failing to gain traction. These stats can be switched on immediately if you’re using WordPress.com. To use them on a self-hosted WordPress install, just install the JetPack plugin and hook it up to a free WordPress.com account.
- Statcounter collects data-rich statistics and reports them in real time. It’s free for small websites with fewer than 9,000 page loads a day, although you’re limited to accessing detailed data from the last 500 visitors only.
- If you use AdWords, you must use the AdWords Search Terms Report alongside your analytics tools. It provides details of the keywords people used when they clicked on a PPC ad. This is an essential report for anyone using AdWords, since it allows you to see irrelevant searches and turn them into negative keywords.
Keep Your Site Secure
Website security is last on our list, but it shouldn’t be an afterthought. Tight security is essential to keep hackers out, and prevent your IP from being blacklisted for spam.
- Sucuri scans your website for harmful malware, and lets you know if your site has been blacklisted. It will also check to see if your software is out of date.
- Why No Padlock? helps to diagnose problems with SSL certificates, and provides a list of insecure items on your site.
- ScanMyServer provides website tests for malware, SQL injections, and XSS.
- WebCheck.Me notifies you if your server is not configured correctly, and also scans for viruses and malware.
- Unmask Parasites alerts you if it finds hidden malware links that are often very difficult to locate.
Continually Improve Your Website
It’s difficult to manage a website, and many of these website tests take time to run through. But the sooner you begin to measure success, the sooner you’ll spot serious problems. That could make a huge difference to the way your visitors perceive you, and it could help to boost your income and reduce the chance of disaster.
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