How to Test & Measure Page Load Speed

Are you looking for a way to test your page load speed to confirm an issue or measure improvements?  Use this quick how to guide to get started testing your page load speed! First, let’s go over why performance matters for website usability and your marketing efforts.

Page load speed matters

The easiest way for me to explain why page load speed matters as a marketer is to point to real world examples. How many times have you given up on reading an article, posting a comment or making a purchase because it took too long to load? ALL of us have experienced this at some point. Most of us do it multiple times a week. Knowing how important the time it takes a page (or app) to load is for you, it’s easy to see why it matters to your site users too. So, if you want to improve your website’s usability, conversion rates SEO and more – you need to improve your page load speed. Which usually starts with testing to see where you stand.

Things to keep in mind

Here’s some things you should keep in mind when testing and measuring your website’s page load speed:

  • Every tool uses different metrics and/or measures them differently
  • Results from the same tool will change between tests so it’s good to use averages to measure changes over time
  • Server location, connection speed, device type/viewport and other factors with influence results
  • There’s a difference between emulated or lab results and real user data

In my experience, top 5 tools for testing page load speed today are:

  • Chrome Developer Tools
  • Google PageSpeed Insights
  • GTmetrix
  • Pingdom
  • Yellow Lab Tools

Chrome Developer Tools

I had to list Chrome Developer Tools as the top page load testing tools because of its importance diagnosing issues. All the testing tools in the world won’t matter if you can’t actually confirm what is causing the issue to be flagged. And 9 times out of 10 that is done with developer tools.

Surreal design of the number 5 (AI generated image)

To check for issues reported in the tools below, open chrome developer tools (Control+Shift+I) and click on the Network tab. In most cases I would recommend disabling cache to give an accurate representation of a first-time user’s visit. And if you’re using a lot of chrome extensions you may also want to hide those URLs using the checkbox at the top.

Chrome Developer Tools network tab

PageSpeed Insights

PageSpeed Insights is easily the most popular page load speed testing tool. Using PageSpeed Insights to measure performance and diagnose issues became commonplace when page load speed become an SEO ranking factor back in 2010. Site owners and SEOs alike have relied on it for over a decade now.

One thing I always found interesting about Core Web Vitals is how aspirational the grading always seemed. For example, even and fails Core Web Vitals Assessment on mobile.

Apple PageSpeed Insights results
Google PageSpeed Insights results

It’s also important to keep in mind that by default you’re viewing the mobile results for the individual URL analyzed. You can also view desktop and origin results, the latter being results for the overall website.

Desktop results for origin


GTmetrix was my favorite page load speed tool for a long time. It was nice to have alternative to PageSpeed Insights and I preferred the presentation. It addition to Core Web Vitals, GTmetrix reports also has their own “GTmetrix Grade” which consists of a performance and structure score. The page details graphs and video recording options were two of my favorite features. But I recently stopped using GTmetrix almost entirely.

The problem with GTmetrix is the new limit for guest/basic usage. On December 1st, 2023 GTmetrix decided to require logins to generate a report. And the new Basic Account only gives you 5 non-renewing credits. I still think it’s a great tool, but I don’t think it’s worth paying for – especially with great free alternatives out there. I would still use it if the credits renewed for free accounts. But they don’t.

GTmetrix limit


If you’re looking for another tool to use outside of PageSpeed Insights, Pingdom is arguably the best free alternative to GTmetrix. According to Crunchbase, SolarWinds acquired Pingdom back in June of 2014. Thankfully Pingdom remains free to use today without any noticeable limits (some sources say 1 request/minute). One thing I really like about Pingdom is content and request breakdown. Many tools provide similar information in some form, but I like the way Pingdom presents this information. Also, Pingdom provides 7 different server locations across the globe to test from. Making it particularly helpful for diagnosing issues for websites with an international audience.

Pingdom content & request breakdown

Yellow Lab Tools

One new page load speed tool I’ve started using recently is Yellow Lab Tools. I found out about it through Smashing Magazine email newsletter and have used it for every page performance audit since. Check it out if you’re looking for a second opinion on PageSpeed Insights recommendations or a free alternative to GTmetrix.

Yellow Lab Tools report for

Taking the next step

Of course, the next step is to take the findings and act of them. I’m not going to lie to you, it’s not always easy. I hope create and share an in-depth guide in the near future. In the meantime, feel free to check out my WordPress Page Load Speed Tips or find out how to improve your site performance with a free CDN.

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