Free Online Tools For The Casual Webmaster

Free Online Tools For Your Website

If you run your own website privately or have someone else look after your website but would like to know more about how it is running then you’re probably interested to know how this is done and what free online tools webmasters use to ensure websites remain fast, stable and up to date.

It can seem daunting at first to indulge yourself with the vast amounts of information that websites can provide you, whether it’s data on the website’s performance, how it ranks in search engines or even what kind of demographic uses your website the most. Knowing where and how to gather this information, and more importantly, use this information to make decisions on your website strategy, does not have to be difficult.

I will cover some basic free online tools below that are completely free to use and will give you a lot of information to use to your advantage without getting into the complexity of filtering extremely specific data, these tools are also great at presenting only the important information in a graphical format that’s very easy to understand.

I have chosen to provide you with free online tools for several reasons:
  • They often have a free version for anyone to use
  • No download or installation required
  • They are constantly up to date and connected to vast databases
  • Running the tool in the same browser as your website keeps thing in one place

Let’s get started.

Web Analytics: Google Analytics

Google provide this comprehensive analytics tool as a free service to anyone with a Google Account. Launched to users in 2005, this service only requires a small snippet of code to be inserted into every page which can track all sorts of extremely useful information on visitors to your website and how they interact with it.

All kinds of metrics can be recorded and compared, such as the average time spent on each page, what pages of each page people interact with the most, and how the user reached your site. Detailed visual reports can be created in Google Analytics that are completely custom, meaning you can display only the information you really want to see.

Google have made sure to make the sign-up and installation process simple to follow, making this a great tool if you are completely new to web analytics.

If you are keen to know what pages on your site get the most visits or how your website’s popularity has changed over the last several months or weeks, then Google Analytics is a fantastic place to start.

Website Audit: Silktide’s Nibbler

This is a newer online website auditing tool that was launched in 2011 and even then has seen many frequent updates to the data collected and beautiful way in which it is presented. All you are required to do is visit the Nibbler web page and enter the address of the website you would like to audit.

The free version of the tool will make 17 individual tests on your website and provide a 0-10 score to you for:

  • Accessibility

    • How well a disabled user can access the website, and how well the website can be viewed on mobile.
  • User experience

    • How enjoyable and engaging the website is overall.
  • Marketing

    • How popular the website is and how visible it is online.
  • Technology

    • How technically up to date and well designed the website is.

You can also look at the result of each test individually, Nibbler will even recommend what you can do to improve your score in each individual test which is fantastic in helping you decide how you want to spend your time improving your website.

The premium version of Nibbler offers more support and more individual tests to the user but for the casual webmaster and small to medium websites, we find that the free version of Nibbler does exactly what we need it to do when we want to make a quick technical audit of our own website, or even someone else’s. Not to mention the homepage makes some wonderful use of CSS and Javascript, you’ll have to see it for yourself.

Speed Testing: Pingdom Website Speed Test

Finally, we would like to know how fast our website loads, and Pingdom Website Speed Test tool offers that and more. Similarly to Nibbler, all that is required is the web page address and we can get started.

Pingdom provides the user with the option of testing from a various locations around the worlds, meaning you can test closer to you if you are only targeting locally, but if you would like your website to pop up quickly around the world then just change the test location and you can see how your website loads when being accessed from that part of the world.

You will be provided with the time it takes to load the website and an overall score which is compared with the average around the world. However after scrolling past this the really useful information appears. Pingdom also shows us a ‘waterfall’ graphic of what file requests were made and delivered when loading the web page, along with a table of every file loaded, these combined allow us to see which files are having the greatest impact on a website’s load time, whether it’s a massive image or a broken link.

A lot of time can be spent using Pingdom allowing webmasters to optimise every page and shave milliseconds off, giving your website an edge in both user experience and search engine ranking.

To name a few

There are so many free online tools out there to use for free, and like each of the three I have mentioned above they will likely have a free version and a paid ‘premium’ version that offers more functionality and support.

This is great as casual webmasters and small websites can make use of the free versions of these tools, which offer more than enough functionality for a beginner or novice. If more functionality and support is eventually required then these tools can then be upgraded, without having to migrate to other tools you are not familiar with.

You now should know more about free online tools for the casual webmaster but more more information, contact Search4Local today.


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