Free Tools to Improve Website Health

I recently discussed how to diagnose inconsistent performance across devices. If you performed this exercise and determined that your site is under-performing on certain devices, now is the time to figure out which elements are failing and how you can fix them in order to improve the site experience. There are a couple of tools you can use to do this and the best news is…THEY ARE FREE!

Google’s PageSpeed Insights

This incredible tool provides information about site failures across devices. It can be accessed in Google Analytics under Behavior –> Site Speed –> Speed Suggestions. In this view, Google reports the number of site errors occurring on your website pages.

google analytics speed suggestions

From here, you can choose to view the errors, which takes you to Google’s Developer tools and a slew of performance improvement suggestions. Here’s an example:

page speed insights sample report

This offers a detailed view of the errors occurring on both Desktop and Mobile. Even if you’re not a developer, this information is super helpful. It provides insight into how content is performing on your site, recommendations for improvements, and guidance on how to fix poor-performing site elements.

I suggest reviewing the the PageSpeed Suggestions report and start by focusing on the pages with the lowest scores in the PageSpeed Score column. Send a link to the report to your dev team and have them update the pages according to the recommendations.

Google Webmaster Tools

This resource is awesome. I’ve found that it’s grossly under-used by web managers. It takes almost no time to set up and provides a wealth of information about your site. It’s a toolbox for the internet!

Webmaster tools primarily focuses on how you can improve your site for Google’s purposes — mainly for indexing and search engine results. But, you know what I always say — what’s good for Google is good for you! (That’s the first time I’ve said that, but now I’m going to say it all of the time.)

Google’s objective is to make your site as effective and relevant as possible. The goal is to optimize your pages for keywords that are related to your product / service, and when your site appears on the search engine results page for those keywords, they want the visitors’ experience to be a good one. Therefore, Google tells you when you’re failing. If you review the reports in the Webmaster tool and repair errors and make the recommended changes, your site will begin to perform better in a number of ways – better organic search results, improved usability, etc.

Here are some notable areas in Google Webmaster tools to start with:

Site Messages

Via site messages, Google will tell you if your site has been penalized for violations. It’s important to be aware of any penalties your site might incur, so you can fix the cause as soon as possible.

HTML Improvements

The reports found in this section provide details on missing, duplicate, and poorly-structured tags. It also provides information on non-indexable pages. Repairing these issues will improve your search engine results.

Google Webmaster HTML Improvements

Crawl Errors

This report tells you if there are any issues occurring with DNS, Server Connectivity, and your Robots.txt file. It also reports on all page errors, across devices. From here, you can download a list of pages that are resulting in errors such as 404’s. Send this list on to your dev team and request that they set up a 301 redirect for these pages, so visitors aren’t getting pissed off when they arrive on a landing page that doesn’t exist.

Google Webmaster Crawl Errors

Security Alerts

This section notifies you if there is any suspicious activity happening on your site.


There are a slew of other tools to use to diagnose and fix your website, but they aren’t free. I suggest starting with these tools and then moving on to more complex, paid options, once you have a real understanding of your needs.

What tools do you recommend for improving site performance?