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Grow your website with these 30+ website optimization tools
Continuously optimizing your website is critical to sustaining long-term growth. In the battle for visitors and conversions, one of your most valuable weapons is your ability to always iterate new and better versions of your website as user expectations (and the competitive landscape) evolve.
Last updated9 Sep 2021
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.
What is website optimization?
Website optimization describes the process of analyzing the user experience (UX), accessibility, and search performance of your website and implementing changes to increase traffic or conversions. Website optimization involves the use of various tools and strategies, including search engine optimization (SEO), conversion rate optimization (CRO), mobile browsing optimization, page speed improvement, and more.
Top 7 free website optimization tools that work in 2020 (and beyond)
1. PageSpeed Insights
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.
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 tracking code to your site, and you'll automatically start recording sessions and generating heatmaps. Don't forget to set up an on-site survey to gather direct user feedback. Hotjar is free for up to 35 sessions/day and 3 surveys.
3. Google Search Console (GSC)
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
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
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.
Did you know? Hotjar integrates with Google Optimize and automatically detects when visitors are in an Optimize experiment. You can filter Hotjar session recordings by Optimize experiment ID and see how visitors browse, click, and scroll on each test page.
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.
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:
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
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:
Using faster-hosting servers
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.
Popular website speed optimization tools
Using WordPress? Speed up your site with these popular optimization plugins:
2. SEO tools
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 and compare search traffic, and tell you 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.
Popular SEO tools
Using WordPress? Optimize your WordPress website with these popular SEO plugins:
3. UX optimization tools
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.
Popular UX optimization tools
Bonus read: heatmaps are a popular type of UX optimization tool that show you how your website visitors interact with individual page elements. Here are 5 ways to use heatmaps to improve your website’s UX.
4. CRO tools
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
Traditional analytics (tools like Google Analytics)
Testing tools (e.g. Google Optimize)
you’ll get a full picture of what’s happening on your site so you can give people what they need to convert.
Popular CRO tools
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
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:
GOOGLE ANALYTICS DATA SHOWING HIGH ECOMMERCE CONVERSION RATE FOR MOBILE USERS
Popular mobile optimization tools
Bonus read: find out how to increase mobile conversion rate in this mobile optimization case study (mobile conversions went up by 63%).
6. Accessibility tools
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.
Popular accessibility optimization tools
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 is just a means to an end: giving your customers the experience they deserve.
1. Watch real user behavior with session recordings
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 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!
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
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:
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 want from your website, and give them the experience they deserve.
Website optimization FAQs
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Despite all the time you’ve spent perfecting your conversion funnel, visitors still aren’t converting. You’ve invested in your site's design and navigation, you've increased your marketing efforts, and you’re following all the 'best practices' for conversion optimization.
But if you don't understand how real customers shop online, you're missing an opportunity to optimize your ecommerce conversion funnel to reflect each visitor's unique customer journey.
Solving the pricing challenge: how today's startups charge their customers
Throughout the past few years, I have had the pleasure of working with extremely talented individuals on a number of tech startups. I love the process of taking an idea and turning it into a product that users are actually happy to pay for - it's incredibly rewarding to see that happen. But there is one part of that process that I find extremely frustrating: choosing the right pricing structure for your startup.
Marc von Brockdorff
We analyzed the homepages of 20 awesome startups and here is what we learnt
Your startup's homepage or landing page may be the one most important page of your site. Think of it as an empty canvas which you, as a business owner or web designer, can use to engage your first-time visitors. Primarily, your homepage's job is to explain what your product or service is all about. But of course, it needs to do much more. It needs to provide your visitors with re-assurance that you are trustworthy, reliable and real. It needs to tell your visitor where to go next. It needs to provide enough information to keep your visitors from pressing the back button. And it needs to do all this in as little time as possible.
Unfortunately, there's no magic formula to building the perfect homepage. There are, however, a number of elements that most startups seem to use repeatedly on their homepages to convert first time visitors into customers. To help me get closer to understanding what makes a homepage work, I decided to analyse the homepages of the top startups. The aim of the research was to establish a set of ideas which can be tested on any homepage.
Marc von Brockdorff