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Grow your website with these 30+ website optimization tools

September 25, 2020 by Hotjar team

Website optimization is the process of enhancing your web pages to improve performance in terms of speed, search engine rankings, conversions, UX (user experience), and accessibility.

Think of it like taking your site to the next level: you’ve already put in the hard work building a website, now it’s time to optimize what’s already there, keeping you ahead of the competition and achieving iterative growth.

Whether you’re at the start of your optimization journey or looking to up your game, in this guide you’ll find the best 30+ website optimization tools for the job, plus two advanced tips you may not have thought about.

We cover:

Top 7 free website optimization tools that work in 2020 (and beyond)

Jump right into optimizing your website with these 7 popular free tools:

  1. PageSpeed Insights
  2. Hotjar
  3. Google Search Console (GSC)
  4. Screaming Frog
  5. Google Optimize
  6. GTMetrix
  7. WAVE

1. PageSpeed Insights

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What it is: created by Google, PageSpeed Insights is a simple, free website speed checker.

What you can optimize: website page speed, desktop website performance, and mobile page speed.

How to use it: enter any URL and click “Analyze”. PageSpeed Insights will return a page speed score out of 100 and give suggestions on how to make your site load faster.

2. Hotjar

hotjar-free-website-optimization-tool

What it is: Hotjar is behavior analytics software that measures website visitor interactions and feedback.

What you can optimize: find and fix bugs, optimize page design for conversion rate, improve UX.

How to use it: sign up, add the Hotjar code to your site, and set up a heatmap, session recording, or on-site survey. Hotjar is free for up to 2000 pageviews/day.

3. Google Search Console (GSC)

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What it is: Search Console is a free search optimization tool from Google.

What you can optimize: measure SEO performance, view keyword impressions and clicks, see your backlinks, and check for crawling and speed errors.

How to use it: sign in with your Google account, verify site ownership, and wait for data to be collected.

4. Screaming Frog

screaming-frog-free-website-optimization-tool

What it is: Screaming Frog is website crawling software for PC, Mac, or Linux.

What you can optimize: on-page and technical SEO—find broken links, check HTML and XML sitemaps, find duplicate content, check redirects, and analyze page titles and meta descriptions.

How to use it: download Screaming Frog and enter a URL or sitemap to start crawling. Screaming Frog is free for up to 500 URLs.

5. Google Optimize

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What it is: Google Optimize is a free website experiment platform that integrates with Google Analytics.

What you can optimize: use A/B testing, split testing, and multivariate testing (MVT) to test variations of different web pages and measure how they perform.
How to use it: sign up for Google Optimize with your Google account, add the tag to your site, install the Chrome extension, and launch a new test after creating page variants.

6. GTmetrix

GTmetrix-free-website-optimization-tool

What it is: GTMetrix is a web page speed tool.

What you can optimize: page load speed.

How to use it: enter any URL and click “Test your site” for a basic speed test. Click the drop-down on each recommendation to learn how to make your page load faster.

7. WAVE

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What it is: WAVE is a web accessibility evaluation tool.

What you can optimize: find accessibility issues like missing alt text, small text size, and contrast errors that make your content inaccessible to screen readers.
How to use it: enter any URL and click through the icon-coded errors to see what to change and learn why improved accessibility is important.



Now you know you don’t need to spend money to start optimizing your website, you can start playing around with one or more of the tools we just covered.

But if you want to go deeper into optimizing a specific area of your website—for example, making a landing page load faster or finding a new keyword for a blog post—here’s a look at the different types of web optimization you can focus on, and more tools that will help you get the job done.

6 types of website optimization tools

Website optimization is a big topic, but the tools you can use fall into six main categories:

  1. Page speed
  2. Search engine optimization (SEO)
  3. User experience (UX)
  4. Conversion rate optimization (CRO)
  5. Mobile-first
  6. Accessibility

Some tools help you work on more than one area at once—for example, Hotjar can be used to improve UX and conversion rates on desktop and mobile—but in general, you’ll need to use multiple tools to optimize your entire website.

Think of it like one big optimization ecosystem: if you improve your website speed, you will also help your SEO, UX, and CRO efforts. As long as your mindset is focused on making your website better, you’ll get a lot out of the tools we discuss below.

1. Web page speed tools

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An example of a web page speed test on WebPageTest

A slow website can drive users away and hurt search rankings. Web page speed tools aren’t going to fix your slow site on their own, but they will measure page speed and show you what’s slowing it down. You’ll be able to pinpoint how to improve page load times by following recommendations like:

  • Reducing and compressing HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and images
  • Caching content
  • Using faster-hosting servers
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Speed improvement suggestions from Google PageSpeed Insights

Want to make your website faster? We collaborated with HubSpot Academy on their free Website Optimization course. You’ll learn how to make your website faster to retain more visitors.

2. SEO tools

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A keyword analysis dashboard from Ahrefs

SEO (search engine optimization) can help you get more free website traffic from search engines like Google and Bing. There are many different types of SEO tools that will help you optimize everything from the structure of your web pages to tracking how you rank for certain keywords:

  • Technical SEO tools to audit on-page SEO (like checking meta robots tags or 404 links)
  • Keyword research tools to find keyword ideas
  • Rank tracking tools to measure search traffic and how your site ranks in the SERPs for target keywords
  • Content optimization tools to optimize for target keywords
  • Backlink analysis tools to check which pages link to your site (or to competitors)
  • Video SEO tools to optimize your videos to rank highly on sites like YouTube

You can use specialist SEO tools that only do one thing (for example, Screaming Frog is a dedicated technical SEO tool), and all-in-one SEO tools, like Ahrefs, which will do a little of everything.

3. UX optimization tools

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The team at Skyscanner reviewing a Hotjar heatmap

Great UX (user experience) will keep visitors happy and reduce friction on your site, ultimately leading to better conversions and increased revenue.

UX optimization tools aren’t going to magically improve user experience, but usability testing will help you understand user behavior and diagnose problems so you can optimize pages and give people what they need to keep browsing and buying from your site.

UX tools help with each step of the page optimization journey, from spotting where users are getting stuck to conducting user research.

4. CRO tools

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An ecommerce funnel visualization on Google Analytics

When done right, CRO (conversion rate optimization) will increase the number of website visitors that become customers (or perform any desired action on your site).

There’s no single tool that will improve conversion rate, but with a combination of

you’ll get a full picture of what’s happening on your site so you can give people what they need to convert.

Bonus resource: use our free 3-step CRO plan to find out what brings people to your site, why they buy or leave, and how to persuade them to convert.

5. Mobile optimization tools

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A Google mobile-friendly test results page

More people browse websites on mobile than desktop, so mobile-first optimization can help you ensure that people view your site correctly on phones and tablets. Web elements like pop-ups, image-heavy pages, and tiny text can make your site difficult to navigate on mobile.

Of course, generalizations aren’t always helpful; check your analytics data to find out what percentage of your users and customers browse on mobile devices, so you know how important mobile optimization is to your business.

If you're using Google Analytics, for example, use the Audience > Mobile > Overview report:

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Google Analytics data showing high ecommerce conversion rate for mobile users

6. Accessibility tools

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A website color contrast test on CheckMyColours

An accessible website is easy for everyone to use—which is a win-win for you and your visitors: great UX for them and more happy customers for you.

Accessibility tools can show you how your landing pages look on a screen reader or to people with various impairments (for example, different types of colorblindness) and provide optimization suggestions to make your website more inclusive.

Designing through inclusivity doesn't mean that you're designing one thing for all people, it’s designing a diversity of ways to participate so that everyone has a sense of belonging. Working with, including and learning from people with a range of perspectives, can capture a greater share of the consumer market.”

- Ilana Davis, Shopify & Squarespace consultant

Watch Ilana’s 5-min lightning talk on designing for inclusivity for more accessibility tips.

2 core website optimization strategies that always work

So far, we’ve listed 30+ web optimization tools that you can use right now to grow your website traffic and revenue. And there are thousands more where those came from.

So where do you start?

This may surprise you, but it’s not from a tool at all.

While you and your competitors have access to the same optimization tools, there is one thing that’s unique to you: your customers and how they behave on your site. When you start with a goal to understand your customers, their needs, and why they came to your site in the first place, the tool(s) you choose to improve your site are just a means to an end: giving your customers the experience they deserve.

1. Watch real user behavior with session recordings

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Even if you have the fastest website on the planet, and rank high for your target keywords, no amount of speed or search engine optimization ‘best practices’ will help you understand what your users actually do on your site or how they experience its pages.

Enter: session recordings, which help you understand the experiences of individual users on your site. Using recordings, you can watch how real people get stuck, progress through your funnel, and what they do right before they convert or leave. You’ll witness frustrated rage clicking, be able to spot and fix website bugs, and get a clear picture of what needs optimizing on your site.

Bring your own popcorn!

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How can visitor recordings grow my business? Here are 4 session recording case studies of how real companies used recordings to increase conversion rates and sign-ups, spot bugs, and optimize for mobile.

2. Get input from your users with surveys and feedback widgets

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There’s one extremely valuable optimization resource that only you have access to: your customers.

You can get feedback from customers and users in different ways, including:

  • NPS surveys: track your customers’ likelihood of recommending your product/service to someone else
  • On-site surveys: a simple pop-up that helps you ask users short, straightforward questions about their experience on a specific page
  • Off-site surveys: send a survey invite link to your email subscribers or customer list so they can reply in their own time

Feedback widgets like Incoming Feedback: users can express their love (or hate) for your page, and can click on any element to add a comment about it

Not sure what to ask your users? Here are over 70 survey questions to help you ask the right questions so you can get the answers you need to optimize your site.

Ready to optimize your website for your users?

Use Hotjar’s behavior analytics and feedback tools to find out what visitors really want from your website, and give them the experience they deserve.

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Website optimization FAQs

Website optimization is a continuous process of improvement to your pages to help them load faster, rank for keywords, increase conversions, be more accessible, and provide better UX to visitors.

Think of it as a virtuous circle of optimization.

Web optimization works by using tools to measure and track opportunities for improvement and provide insight into the changes you can make to grow your site.

Website optimization is important because it helps you increase website traffic, overtake the competition, and give a great experience to your users and customers. Put simply, an optimized website will ultimately help you grow your business and increase revenue.

Website optimization tools help you collect information about how people experience your website, so you can understand what’s working well and what can be improved—and ultimately deliver a better experience for your visitors.

Website optimization tools will help you:

  • Speed up your website
  • Improve user experience
  • Increase conversion rate
  • Improve site accessibility
  • Optimize for search traffic
  • Optimize for mobile browsing

Website optimization tools help you make sense of performance and behavior data about your website, and create a roadmap for improving different elements of your site, like:

  • Speed
  • SEO
  • Mobile-performance
  • UX, and
  • CRO

Without optimization tools, you’d be stuck making guesses about what to change or fix on your site.

The first step to optimizing your website speed is to paste your URLs into a speed test tool like PageSpeed Insights to find out what’s slowing you down.

Some common site speed optimizations include:

  • Compressing and resizing images
  • Using browser caching
  • Reducing server response time TTFB (time to first byte)
  • Minifying CSS, JavaScript, HTML, and other scripts
  • Using a CDN (content delivery network) like Cloudflare

If you’re new to SEO, keep your toolkit small. Begin with Google Search Console, then choose one of the popular all-in-one SEO tools: Ahrefs and Moz are both great beginner-friendly SEO tools with plenty of tutorials, videos, and how-to guides to get you started.

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Hotjar team

100+ Hotjarians, 25+ countries, 1 goal: to give you and your team the insights you need to create experiences your users love.