If you’ve created a website for your business or are in the process of creating one, you may wonder what the user experience is like. Is your Google Form working as it should? Do site visitors have to wait too long while your instructional video buffers? Are there any error messages on your pages? More importantly, does your site take too long to load?
Your website’s loading speed can significantly impact the user experience as well as your SEO and where your site ranks on search engine result pages (SERPs). So, you must address any issues with loading speed to increase your visibility.
If you notice that your website is running slowly, the issue could concern the website itself or the web host. The best way to find out is to run some speed tests.
This article will guide you through web hosting basics and outline the steps you need to take to run a web hosting speed test.
Understanding Web Hosting
What is web hosting?
Simply put, web hosting is an online service that connects your website to the internet. When you buy a hosting subscription plan, you rent space on a physical server. This physical server is where all of your website’s data is stored.
Much like a PBX hosting provider houses, maintains, and updates a business’ phone system off-premises, web host providers offer a remote service that operates and supports your website’s operations.
Web hosts ensure your website’s effective and secure operation. Their role is to implement security measures, keep the server up and running, and ensure data is available to visitors. In other words, they act as the bridge between your website and your visitors.
What is a speed test?
A speed test tells you how fast your web hosting provider is. It measures a server’s response time, which is called “measuring ping”. A ping is an internet program that allows users to test particular destination IP addresses.
It can also be used to ensure that the host computer the user is trying to reach is working. Any operating system with networking capability can use ping.
What is a web hosting speed test on a server?
Most of the time, website speed issues will be related to errors in the website itself, such as chunky code, broken page elements, or non-optimized images (that is, file sizes that are too large). However, occasionally the problem lies with the web host itself.
Whether you operate an eCommerce platform or an online blog, your website hosting server powers your website. So a web hosting speed test checks your hosting server speed. You can carry out this test regularly or as and when you experience problems.
Before You Run Your Web Hosting Speed Test
Before we dive into how you can conduct speed tests for your web hosting service, there are a few internal things you should rule out first. Here are a couple of issues to consider:
- Is your website itself having loading time issues?
- Is there anything wrong with your internet service provider?
If you suspect your website is running slow, cover some bases to figure out what’s happening. The first question you want to ask yourself is when the problems started. Do the problems coincide with any changes you made to your site, or did they come on randomly?
If you ran a speed test from one of the many free online resources, how did your website score? Did you test from multiple physical locations? Visiting your website from your home, coffee shop, mobile phone, and office can help you rule out a problem with your internet provider.
If your website is loading very slowly or stuttering in other ways, the problem likely lies with your website (for example, the code or images, as mentioned above). You may need to tweak a few things and see if that makes a difference. For example, maybe you uploaded a video explaining the different VoIP providers, and this is causing your website to run slowly.
If you’re using an older computer, that could also affect the loading time of your website. Make sure you have made all of the necessary updates and compare how your computer loads other websites compared to your own.
In addition, you can check the status of your internet provider online using a tool such as ismyinternetworking.com to see if there is a problem with your connection.
It’s best to check for these issues before trying to conduct a speed test for your web hosting server to rule out the most likely problems.
4 Steps for Testing Web Host Speed
If you’ve checked for a few common issues and still believe the slow loading speed is due to the web host, it’s time to run a speed test. You can try a few things to check the speed of your website’s host.
1. See what people are saying
Sometimes, word of mouth can be a great way to determine if a company is reliable. People like to complain, so if there are problems with your web host provider, you will undoubtedly find a few negative reviews online.
Besides learning whether the provider offers reasonable prices, has strong customer service or implements threat modeling processes that protect its systems from cybersecurity threats, you can find out whether their service provides fast loading speeds and response times.
The more recent the reviews, the more likely they are to be relevant, and verified reviews will likely be the most genuine.
2. Go to the source
By visiting the host provider’s page, you can determine whether their service has a problem. Hosting companies will almost certainly host their own website on their servers, or virtual servers, so if you discover that their website is running slowly as well, there is likely to be an issue with their server.
You can also run free online website speed tests to see how quick their website is compared to yours. If yours is significantly worse, then it’s likely that the problem lies with your website and not the host.
3. Check out fellow customers
A quick web host search will reveal which companies use the same hosting provider as you. From here, you can run free website speed tests for these websites and compare the results to your website’s speed test.
If their sites load at the same rate as yours, you can rule out a problem with your website. However, it could still indicate an issue with your internet provider, so you compare these website speeds with websites using a different host.
4. Time to first-byte test
The most significant type of test to check your web hosting speed is the “time to first-byte test”. An essential metric, this measures the amount of time that lapses between the moment you send a request to your website and the moment you get the first byte of information back.
You will know that the problem lies with the hosting company if receiving that first byte takes a long time. If the first byte comes back very quickly, but the site takes a long time to load in its entirety, you can assume that the problem lies with the site.
A good test score for this speed test is between .1 and .5 of a second.
Another thing that you can do to improve the experience of users on your site is to look into WordPress maintenance packages that can help boost your website's performance and ensure it runs smoothly.
If you want to stay on top of your website’s performance in the future, there are several measures you can implement.
Run regular speed tests
You can sign up your site to have regular speed tests through a paid service or run the tests regularly yourself. The benefit of doing the former is that you can automate the process and receive updates directly to your email.
Regularly visit your website
Regularly visiting your website or getting colleagues to browse your site as a visitor is a great way to ensure everything loads and displays as it should. Besides checking loading speeds, you can also check for broken links and pictures or video content that doesn’t load.
By staying on top of such issues, you can make your website much more attractive to visitors, improving the user experience, dwell time, and even generating new leads, clicks, and views.
Ask for feedback
One straightforward way to track your website’s performance is to ask your shop or blog visitors to alert you of any issues. You can include a form on your website that encourages visitors to tell you if they’ve experienced any problems with your website or send out a poll or questionnaire in your newsletter.
Remember, it’s essential to fix any issues with loading speed as soon as possible. A broken site or slow-loading content can cause you to lose valuable leads and harm your SEO. Consider investing in a hosted VoIP service so you can send an SMS/MMS, jump on a phone call, or host a video conference call with your team to fix the problem straight away.
A slow-loading website can significantly impact your website’s visibility and reach. The digital world is becoming increasingly competitive, so it’s crucial to address speed issues to ensure your potential customers and readers can still access your site.
Keep in mind that several things can impact loading speed, including chunky coding, large images, and internet connection. While these issues can all be fixed on your side, running a web hosting speed test is also worth it to ensure your server isn’t the cause.