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How to Properly Run a Website Speed Test

Updated on Nov 7, 2022

When it comes to Google ranking, one of the most important factors is website speed. If your site takes more than 4-5 seconds to load in the area where it is hosted, you will most likely see a decrease in organic traffic. That is the primary reason why many website owners strive to improve their site's speed. However, site speed is not as simple as you may believe because there are numerous ways to optimize it and test your results.

In this post, we will explain how to properly run a website speed test and provide a list of tools that may be useful.

This post includes:

Why Website Speed Is Important

User Experience (UX) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) both benefit from fast website speeds (SEO). The average internet user's attention span is much shorter than it used to be. As a result, if your website takes too long to load, you will likely lose traffic and have lower conversion rates than you could have. Slow loading times may also increase your bounce rate, which is the percentage of users who leave your website quickly after entering it.

Google uses page speed analysis as one of its ranking factors, so the faster your site loads, the better your chances of ranking high in Google searches.

How to Test Website Speed

Configure your Website Properly

Common issues faced by slow sites are related to the hosting environment, content caching, images, plugins/themes, redirects, JavaScript rendering, and large files (CSS, JS, etc.).

Choose a Great Web Host

This is something that most people miss. Even when you perfectly optimize your site, you will only get slower speeds when your hosting isn't up to the mark. Here are the main things you should look for when choosing your web hosting provider:

  • At least 99% uptime;
  • A variety of hosting plans;
  • 24/7 customer service;
  • Reasonable price;
  • Intuitive account interface;
  • Lots of resources from the start;
  • Supported domain and website migration;
  • Satisfactory security options;
  • A Website Builder.

You get all of the above (and more) when you become a FastComet client. You can be sure that we are always available to help you with anything hosting-related.

Caching

You have the option to reduce a page's response times by delivering cached copies of your content instead of serving them directly from the server. To do that, you can use caching like Redis or xVarnish. This way, you will store static assets on the server-side and leverage browser caching on the local hard drive.

Image optimization

Because images typically account for 30% to 90% of page size, the more you compress your images, the faster your pages will load. Before uploading images to your site, use any plugin from the WordPress repository or any online free image compression tool to properly compress them. When serving sharp and fast-loading images, achieving a good image size/compression ratio is critical.

Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Content Delivery Networks (such as Cloudflare) can help websites reduce page load times significantly by hosting the website resources in servers all over the world. With speeds, CDN can also help with site security, DDOS attacks, and increased content redundancy and availability.

A few other things you can do to speed up your site are minifying resources (CSS, JS, HTML), setting up HTTP/2, removing render-blocking JavaScript, and enabling preconnect, prefetch, and preload.

Choose a Test Location

When using a speed test tool, keep as many variables as possible constant. When testing your site's speed, make sure to test it from the same location each time.

Because servers are located all over the world, what takes 5 seconds to load in one location may take only 2 seconds in another. This is due to the distance between the two locations and the server.

If you run your tests from the same location, you know that the fluctuations aren't caused by a physical location; rather, changes in site speed can be attributed to another variable.

The most important aspect of your website page speed test is consistency. It makes no difference where you take the test. Of course, if you're not physically present at your test location, use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to connect to the site and evaluate the loading time from there.

Run the Test Multiple Times

Each test may yield different results. That is why it is critical to run it multiple times until you achieve the desired consistency. This way, you'll be able to confirm that there is a problem that needs to be looked into further.

Furthermore, if you only run the test once, you are not testing the speed of a cached version of the site. You should ensure that both the cached and "fresh" versions load quickly.

Some tools will run multiple tests for you automatically. Many paid ones will even track your performance over time, allowing you to see any changes in speed and investigate the cause.

Last but not least, make sure you have a "before" and "after" version of the test so you can measure any optimization changes between the tests and evaluate the results.

Best Tools for Website Speed Testing

There are a lot of website speed test tools on the Internet, but not all of them will provide the best possible solution for you. Consider using:

  • GTmetrix;
  • Pingdom;
  • Google PageSpeed Insights;
  • DareBoost;
  • UpTrends;
  • WebPageTest;
  • SiteSpeedBot;
  • Performance by Sucuri;
  • Website Speed Test;
  • SEO Site Checkup;
  • Dotcom-Tools;
  • KeyCDN.

You can find more information about all listed tools in our blog post, Top Website Performance & Speed Test Tools You Should be Using.

Conclusion

Understanding how to properly speed-test your WordPress site will ensure that you are effectively gauging your performance. Your priority is a quick website. That is why you should use at least one of the tools we listed to measure your speed optimization strategy. It should be abundantly clear by now that website speed is an essential component of any successful website. The more quickly your website loads, the better your chances of success.

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