In the last few years, load speed has become a hot topic in SEO. Today, more than ever before, a fast-loading website is important, with Google looking at the load speed as a direct ranking signal, as well as many implicit signals based partially on how fast your pages load.
Since it was launched Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool has been a favorite, however, for professionals it does not provide the granularity necessary to make actionable recommendations to your clients. Tool I prefer is WebPagetest.org, which has great overviews of every element in a page load – this provides a clearer analysis and recommendations that are much more useful.
Just recently DareBoost, which is a new tool, was brought to my attention. Made in France, DareBoost is one of the newest web performance analysis tool that combines a number of features of WebPagetest, PageSpeed, and Insights. I was asked to try it, and here’s my review.
DareBoost – page speed analysis
The primary functionality of DareBoost’s is to analyze webpage load speeds and provide recommendations on how to improve it. This is no different than what PageSpeed Insights and WebPagetest do, but there are a number of features that set DareBoost apart from these free tools:
You can also choose whether you want to do a desktop or mobile speed test, and DareBoost lets you choose which browser will be do test (Chrome, Firefox) and where the test will be conducted from. This imitates WPT, but DareBoost has fewer browser and location options so it does narrow how useful the tool is.
However, the additional features make up for it. For example, you can emulate a user with an adblocker, that lets you make meaningful comparisons on page speed with/without adblocking.
DareBoost lets you select the bandwidth of the test, form field submissions, provide htaccess login details and customize the HTTP header the test will use to access the webpage. These options provide you with a lot more control, and they let you test websites in staging environments.
Page speed comparison
DareBoost has been raised on a diet of growth hormones with many additional features that the free tools just don’t have to offer. Especially great is the comparison tool that lets you compare load speeds of two pages side by side and then provides you with compared scores for both of the pages.
This lets you do side-by-side comparisons of two versions of a specific web page, or of the same web page on two servers, so you can identify exactly why load speed delays occur and where they occur.
For example, you could use this to test two different designs that have identical content, along with different server configurations, code optimizations, hosting environments, etc. The value of the comparison tool is hard to overestimate. Yes you can get similar data manually from tools like WebPagetest, having the combined side-by-side reporting that DareBoost offers makes it considerably better.
DareBoost has monitoring that does a daily check of a given webpage, and it tracks the load speed over time. The monitoring feature sends out email alerts if the page performance is drops below a specific threshold that you can specify and over time it will generate graphs.
There are a few drawbacks to DareBoost that I have addressed. The biggest is the limited number of locations from which you can run a test and this must be expanded. Letting you do tests from many different locations is the biggest draw of WebPageTest.org’s and DareBoost is going to have to provide more if it wants to take users away from the tools that are already established. DareBoost offers modified packages that provide you with custom test locations, which could be a good option for businesses to explore that have the cash who require a great speed monitoring tool.
What else can be improved is the waterfall view in DareBoost, which is on their radar so we hope to see this addressed in future versions.
In terms of advantages, DareBoost has many indeed, over the free rivals. The tests are far more comprehensive, the comparison option is fantastic, the daily monitoring feature superb, and the recommendations far more useful.
In addition it is very affordable. The basic package is only $9/month, and the full premium suite is only $79/month, making it a very attractive price tag for a great tool that will easily be used daily. If you take page speed seriously then DareBoost is definitely worth trying.