There are few things more frustrating than using a site that takes forever to load when browsing the Internet. If you run any type of website, it’s important to remember that most visitors will only wait two or three 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.

Key Takeaways:

  • About 80 percent of all speed-related problems with websites are caused by the website itself and not the hosting provider. 
  • There are two things to consider when considering your website’s speed. The overall speed that the hosting company you use ― or are thinking about using ― offers and the speed of your specific site, if your site is hosted on a fast server, it might load slowly if you don’t have it set up properly. 
  • To make sure you find out right away if your site starts responding slowly, you can ask visitors to report, run scheduled speed tests, and visit your site daily.
  • When investigating your specific site’s response times determine when did problems start, and run a free speed test from multiple locations?

    What to Consider Before Checking Your Site’s Speed

    • Does your site have speed issues?
    • Does your internet service provider (ISP) have issues?

    If you have a website and you have noticed it is responding slowly, your first thought may be to blame the hosting company. 

    However, the issue is often on the user’s side. For example, if you are using an older computer or one that has some type of problem, it will result in the website loading slowly. In addition, the problem could be from your internet service provider (ISP).

    Eliminate Your Site and ISP Issues First

    You should eliminate issues on your side and the side of your ISP should be done before going through the often-complex task of troubleshooting issues on your website or with the web hosting company.

    The easiest way to rule out problems on your computer and your ISP is to check to see how other websites are responding. Visit a variety of other sites and see if they load quickly. If they do, then you can be confident that the problem is not on your side (or the side of the ISP).

    Once you have ruled these things out, you will be able to confidently move on to testing your own website (or web hosting) as the cause of the slowness.

    How to Check Your Web Host Speed

    There are two things to consider when considering your website’s speed. The first is: 

    • Overall speed: 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.
    • Specific Site Speed: 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:

    1. Visit the host’s page
    2. Find another site on the same host
    3. Read reviews of the company
    4. Do the time to first-byte test

    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 on their page to get more precise results. Compare those results to the same test by 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 its 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.

    Consider These When Checking the Speed of Your Website

    Here are some things to do when investigating your specific site’s response times:

    • When did problems start?
    • Did you run a free speed test?
    • Did you test from multiple locations?

    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.

    Did You 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).

    Did You 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.

    If you don’t find 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.

    How Do You Know If Your Speed Is Too Slow?

    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
    • Run scheduled speed tests 
    • Visit your site daily

    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.

    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.  

    How Do You Improve My Website’s Speed?

    Some things to look at include the following:

    • Advertisements
    • Plug-ins
    • Images and videos
    • Offsite content

    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.

    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.

    Will Upgrading to Better Hosting Improve Your Site’s Speed?

    In many cases, moving from a shared hosting package to a good quality virtual private server (VPS) or upgrading to a dedicated server will get you the response times you need.

    Just because your web hosting server isn’t responding as fast as it should doesn’t mean that your company is doing a bad job, it could be that your site is overloading the server you’re on. 

    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 if Your Website Is Slow

    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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