How To Test The Speed Of A Website

How do you test the speed of a website and why do you need to do it?

These are questions I get asked a lot so let’s take a look.

The speed of a website can make a big difference to the SEO, so the faster your site loads the better it will rank with the search engines.

This means knowing the load speed of your website and any issues which are slowing it down is very important information.  

With this knowledge you can address these issues and improve the usability and SEO of your site.

In this post we will look at three free tools that you can use to test the speed of a website and find out what is slowing it down.

What Affects Website Speed

The load speed of a website can be affected by a number of different things and making slight improvements in all of these areas can have a dramatic affect on your sight speed.

Lets take a look at some areas you can improve.

Web Hosting

The type and quality of your web hosting can cause your site to load slowly.  If your hosting has poor performance then you will probably have a website that is slow to load.

This makes the choices you make when deciding on which web hosting company to use is very important.

Always choose the type of hosting that is best suited to the size and traffic requirements of your website rather than just going for the cheapest option.

Choosing the wrong web hosting can be an expensive mistake in the long term.

The hosting company used at ExploreWp is A2 Hosting as they provide a very fast hosting service at a great price.

Find out more about A2 Hosting here.

You can also find more information about choosing a web hosting company in the blog post How To Choose Hosting For Your WordPress Site.

Theme

Your WordPress theme can also have an affect on the speed and SEO of your website.  Some themes will be coded better and load faster than others so choosing a good quality theme is worth doing.

Usually premium themes are better than free ones and will be updated to keep them and your site running smoothly.

If you can afford it I would advise you to choose a premium theme.   

The theme I use and recommend is Generate Press Premium.  This theme can be used on multiple sites with just one licence and is excellent value for money.

It is also updated regularly so you don’t have to worry about it’s performance.

Find more information about Generate Press Premium here.

Plugins

The amount and size of the plugins that you have installed on your website will add to the speed and load time of your website.

There are ways to minimize this problem though.

  • Only have necessary plugins installed.
  • Delete all unused plugins.
  • Keep plugins updated.

By only having necessary plugins installed you are keeping the back end of your WordPress website streamlined and making it easier for the site to load as each plugin adds to the size of the website.

Even plugins that are installed but not activated will slow everything down so make sure you uninstall all unused plugins.

Keeping all your plugins updated will make sure they are all running well and secure and that they load as quickly as possible.

Image Size

The size and quantity of the images on your website will affect the load speed of your site.  This is a problem that can easily be rectified though.

Compressing the images on your website will lower the overall file size but keep all the quality of the image. 

I use the Smush plugin to do this but there are many plugins available that will do the job.  Check out the Smush plugin here.

For more detailed information about compressing images see the blog post – How To Compress Images In WordPress.

Traffic

Traffic quantity can also affect website speed.  If you have a site with many visitors per day your hosting server could struggle and slow everything down.

Unless you have huge numbers of visitors at once or your web hosting is not adequate you should have too much problem with this issue.

File Caching

Using a caching plugin on your WordPress website is another way to speed up your site.  With a caching plugin your site will load static HTML pages which have been saved on your server rather than WordPress PHP scripts which are slower to load.

Finding a good caching plugin is an important part of speeding up your website.  There are lots available, usually for free although some have paid options.

I use W3 Total Cache.  The free version of this plugin is excellent and has enough features for most users.

Find out more about W3 Total Cache here.

That is a few of the things that affect the load speed of a website.  Let’s have a look at ways to test the speed of a website.

Pingdom

Pingdom is a free tool that allows you to test the load time and gives you a breakdown of any issues found.

This allows you to easily identify what is working on your website and any problems that are slowing it down.  

To test your website with Pingdom you just type the URL into the box and select the location you want it to be tested from (usually the most local to your location).

The test will only take a few seconds and it quickly delivers the results.  Firstly it shows the overall results for Performance Grade, Page Size, Load Time and Requests.

These results give you a quick indication about the speed and performance of your website.  Any major issues will become clear immediately giving you the opportunity to investigate further.

It then gives you a few page performance grades with drop down boxes giving more detailed information.

Once you have addressed any problems found you can then test your site again to see the improvements.

Have a look at Pingdom here.

Google Page Speed Insights

Google Page Speed Insights is another free tool that you can use to find out the speed and performance of your website.

Just enter your URL in the box and click analyze.

Once it has analyzed your website it delivers results so you can see any issues with your site and gives you an overall score.  You can analyze either the mobile or desktop version of your site by clicking one of the options in the blue menu bar.

The results between the two can be different so it is worth checking both options.

This tool also gives you information on how to speed up your site based on it’s findings and the amount of time you could save. This can be very useful and the issues can be addressed very quickly once you have this information.

There is also a list of the audits that your site has passed which helps you see what your site is doing right.

This is a great free tool that gives you an insight into your sites performance.  Check out Google Page Speed Insights here.

GT Metrix

Another free tool that you can use to test the speed of your website is GT Metrix.  This site works like the other two and allows you to type in your URL to be analyzed.

After a few seconds your page has been scanned and an overall score is given as well as other information.  Again the information is detailed and very helpful in determining any issues.

There are scores for different areas of your page as well as the overall score which are very detailed and informative. By clicking the different headings you will get even more details making this a great free tool.

You can see GT Metrix here.

Which Is Best?

So which of these three tools is better to use?  Well all three are free to use, which is great so nothing to choose between them there.

All give good accurate information and I would advise you to have a go with all of them to see which you prefer.

I like the layout of Pingdom and GT Metrix.  As for the content I would say GT Metrix possibly just edges it although they are all very close.

Take a look at all three tools as they will all provide a useful insight into the performance of your website.  

I hope you find these tools useful and you use them next time you need to test the speed of a website.

You can find more information about  the tools and products I use for my WordPress websites on the Resources page.