When browsing the Internet, there are only a few things less frustrating than using a site with a slow load time. If you run any type of website, it’s important to remember that most visitors will only wait 2 or 3 seconds for a site to load. Anything beyond that, and they’ll hit the back button and look for something else.
Whether your site makes money from advertisements, selling products, or providing customers with information, having visitors move away from your site because it’s too slow can be devastating.
Learning how to test a website’s speed will help you determine whether your page is slower than it should be. In addition, testing the speed of your site is an important first step in figuring out what you can do to speed things up. In this article, you’ll get all the information you need, including:
- How to test your website’s speed
- How to determine if the response times are too slow
- What types of things impact site speeds
- What you can do to speed up your site
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How to Check Your Web Host Speed
There are two things to consider when considering your website’s speed. The first is the overall speed that the hosting company you use ― or are thinking about using ― offers. This is essential for sites that value factors like user experience (UX), as fast loading speeds will keep visitors on your site longer.
The second thing to be aware of is the speed of your specific site. Even if your site is hosted on a fast server, it might load slowly if you don’t have it set up properly. For example, if you place ads from a low-quality ad servicing company on your site, that will slow things down dramatically. If your site is infected with a virus or malware, that can also slow things down.
So, with this in mind, you’ll need to know how to check both of these things. Fortunately, this process is fairly simple.
Checking the Speed of a Hosting Company
There are a few things you can do to test the speeds from your actual web hosting company. The following are some of the simplest things you can do to test this:
- Visit the host’s page: Start by visiting the hosting provider’s page. All hosting companies host their own website on their servers. If you find that their main page is running slowly, the problem is likely on their side. You can also run a free online website speed test to their page to get more precise results. Compare those results to the same test going to your site to see the differences.
- Find another site on the same host: Determine what other websites operate on the same hosting provider or even the same server. This can often be done with a quick browser search, especially if you’re using one of the more popular web hosting companies. Once you find one, run the website speed tests to your site and another on the same host and compare the results.
- Read reviews of the company: While less precise, reading reviews of the hosting company can help to let you know if other people have complained about their speeds. Try to find reviews that were written recently. A hosting company that was once good can go downhill fast if they don’t work hard to keep their systems up to date.
- Time to first byte test: The best type of test to run when testing your page is the time to first byte test. This measures the amount of time it takes from the moment you send a request to your website to the moment you get the first byte of information back. If receiving that first byte takes a long time, the issue is with the hosting company. If the first byte comes back quickly, but the full site takes a long time to load, the problem is with the site. You generally want to see results from this test between .1 and .5 of a second.
Checking the Speed of Your Website
If you don’t find any problems with your hosting company, you’ll want to check the response times on your specific site. Make sure to keep in mind that about 80 percent of all speed-related problems with websites are caused by the website itself and not the hosting provider. With this in mind, here are some things to do when investigating your specific site’s response times:
- When did problems start: Did your site just start responding slowly in the last few days or weeks? If so, what changes have you made to the site? Consider backing them out to see if there is any improvement.
- Run a free speed test: There are several different website speed tests available online. Find one that you like the interface of and start running periodic tests on your site. You want to make sure your site is fully loaded within 2 seconds (sooner is better).
- Test from multiple locations: Try to visit your site ― and run speed tests to your site ― from multiple physical locations. Visit it from your home, office, and phone, for example. This will help you to rule out a problem with your internet connection.
How Do You Know If Your Speed Is Too Slow?
If your site is having problems, you want to know about it as quickly as possible to take action to fix it. Unfortunately, many website owners don’t find out about a slow-loading site for months after a problem begins, which could mean huge numbers of visitors leaving the site and never coming back. The following are a few things you can do to make sure you find out right away if your site starts responding slowly:
- Ask visitors to report: One of the simplest things you can do to find out if your site is slower than normal is to ask visitors. Place a button or form on your site that asks visitors if they experienced any issues or have any complaints. If they do, they can report them right away.
- Run scheduled speed tests: Look for a website speed test that will allow you to run scheduled tests regularly. Some of these services will charge a small fee for this type of advanced reporting, but it’s often worth the investment. In addition to just running these tests, they can also notify you of problems through text, email, and other things.
- Visit your site daily: Perhaps the most obvious option is to visit your site each day. If you’re used to browsing your site, you’ll notice quickly if things aren’t working properly. It’s best to clear your cache or use incognito mode on your browser when visiting so that your site has to fully load.
How Do You Improve My Website’s Speed?
If you find that your website is loading slower than it should, there are several things that you can do. For situations where the problem is with your front-end site, you’ll need to figure out what it’s about your page that’s slowing things down. Some things to look at include the following:
- Advertisements: Advertisements are notorious for causing sites to load slowly, especially if you have many of them. Check with your ad provider to see if their services could be slowing things down. Consider disabling ads and testing your site to see if speeds improve.
- Plug-ins: Plug-ins can provide great functionality to your site, but if they are poorly coded or do several tasks, they can also slow things down. Consider disabling all your plug-ins and running some tests to see if that’s the problem.
- Images and videos: Make sure all the images and videos on your site are optimized and compressed properly to allow them to load quickly.
- Offsite content: If you pull any content from somewhere other than your web servers, try removing that content and seeing if it fixes the problem. Everything on your page needs to load smoothly, including third-party content, to give users a good experience.
Will Upgrading to Better Hosting Improve Your Site’s Speed?
Just because your web hosting server isn’t responding as fast as it should doesn’t mean that the company is doing a bad job, it could be that your site is overloading the server you’re on. In many cases, moving from a shared hosting package to using a good quality virtual private server (VPS) or upgrading to a dedicated server will get you the response times you need.
Will Changing Web Hosting Companies Speed Up Your Site?
If you find that the issue is with the actual web hosting company, you may transfer to another provider. Changing hosting companies isn’t difficult, although it does need to be planned out and executed properly to avoid downtime and ensure everything goes smoothly.
Find a hosting provider with a great reputation and opt for hosting that uses solid-state drives (SSDs) since those can do much to speed things up.
Take Action Right Away
Having a slow website is a huge problem. Whether you are an individual, an online business, or a physical company with a web presence, making sure your site loads fast is essential. In some ways, having a slow-loading website is worse than having no website at all. So, if you find that your site isn’t performing the way it should, take the time to figure out what is wrong and take action to get it fixed as soon as possible.
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