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9 min read How to diagnose a slow website

How To Diagnose A Slow WordPress Website

Key Takeaways

  • We use Think With Google to help us advance our website speed performance – once you generate a report, it gives you a list of recommended improvements.
  • You could also use the Google Chrome performance tool, GTmetrix, Pingdom, WebPage Test, or Query Monitor.
  • For greater detail and accuracy, we recommend using more than one tool to monitor your website performance.

Nobody likes a slow website.

New research by Google has found that 53% of web­site vis­i­tors will leave a mobile site if it takes longer than 3 sec­onds to load.

To put that into a per­spec­tive, if your web­site is slow you might be los­ing more than half of your poten­tial customers.

Fix­ing page speed issues on your web­site might have a pos­i­tive impact and increase your sales and revenue.

Let’s put that mon­ey in your pockets.

Are you ready to get started?

Web­site speed can be affect­ed by var­i­ous factors.

The first step to solv­ing any prob­lem is real­iz­ing what is caus­ing it.

How To Diagnose A Slow WordPress Website

Try­ing to iden­ti­fy the prob­lem with­out know­ing where to look is like look­ing for a nee­dle in a haystack.

The good news is that there are sim­ple and quick meth­ods that can help you iden­ti­fy how fast your web­site is and what is slow­ing it down.

To get a bet­ter per­spec­tive on your web­site per­for­mance we rec­om­mend you use dif­fer­ent tools and test it from mul­ti­ple loca­tions around the world. Do not rely on a sin­gle tool or soft­ware to get your results, as they all have their own data­base and their own way of working.

Always check your mobile performance.

Most users use a 4G or 3G con­nec­tion, which can be sig­nif­i­cant­ly slow­er than the wire­less Inter­net in your home. That’s why it’s impor­tant to make sure your site per­forms well on mobile.

Page speed on mobile is a land­ing page fac­tor for Google Search and Ads. Мore rea­sons to work on improv­ing it.

Here are some meth­ods and tools we found help­ful dur­ing our years of experience.

Method 1: Using Think With Google Performance Tool

Think With Google is a new­ly-devel­oped tool by Google that can help you eval­u­ate your web­site speed performance.

The report-based tool is full of data, sta­tis­tics, and trend reports com­ing from insid­ers with access to Google’s huge data­base of analytics.

You can see how fast your web­site is on a 4G con­nec­tion, see what you can do to improve it, and check how your mobile site speed ranks com­pared to your competitors.

The ‘Think with Google’ tool is pret­ty easy to use.

First, you need to enter your domain name and click Enter.

Wait for the report to gen­er­ate and this is what you’ll see.

Think with Google tool

We ran the report for our own web­site and we see that our mobile page speed is 1.6 sec­onds on a 4G con­nec­tion. Not a bad result, but it can def­i­nite­ly be improved.

Once you scroll, you’ll see a list of rec­om­men­da­tions you can imple­ment to improve your web­site speed.

These rec­om­men­da­tions are more gener­ic, but you can also down­load a full report from var­i­ous calls to action across the page.

Let’s do that.

Short­ly after you enter your email address, you’ll receive an email with a PDF doc­u­ment of your per­for­mance report.

There are a cou­ple of pages with gen­er­al infor­ma­tion about page speed, why it is impor­tant, etc. The most impor­tant part of the report is the devel­op­er check­list. Make sure to screen­shot or to write the cus­tom rec­om­men­da­tions down.

‘Think with Google’ is using data from Lighthouse.

Light­house is anoth­er tool cre­at­ed by Google. It’s an open-source, auto­mat­ed tool that you can use on any web page you open in a Google Chrome browser.

It has audits for per­for­mance, acces­si­bil­i­ty, pro­gres­sive web apps, SEO, and more.

You can run Light­house from the Com­mand Line in Google Chrome Dev Tools or as a Chrome extension.

If you wish to gen­er­ate a full report just using the Light­house tool, open your web­page in Google Chrome.

Press F12 or right-click some­where on the screen and click “Inspect” to open the page inspector.

Then click on the “Light­house” tab.


Click the “Gen­er­ate report” but­ton and it’ll start to run a series of audits. You can use the fil­ters on the right to include or exclude dif­fer­ent aspects from the audits. You can test your web­site on mobile and desktop.

Once the audits are done, the tool will gen­er­ate a report on how well the page performed.

The Light­house tool will grade your web­site on dif­fer­ent aspects — per­for­mance, acces­si­bil­i­ty, usage of best prac­tices, and SEO.

Scroll a bit more and you’ll see diag­nos­tics — things you can do to affect the web­site’s over­all performance.

Method 2: Using Google Chrome’s Performance Tool

The Google Chrome per­for­mance tool gives a more tech­ni­cal analy­sis of your web­site speed. The tool pro­vides a visu­al rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the load­ing of files and images on a cer­tain webpage.

You can see which resources are load­ing first, how long it takes for the dif­fer­ent types of files to load and how many sec­onds are need­ed for a par­tic­u­lar web page to ful­ly load.

To access the tool, open the web­page you want to test in the Google Chrome brows­er. Press F12 or right-click some­where on the screen and click “Inspect” to open the page inspector.

Click on the “Per­for­mance” tab.

Click the record but­ton so the brows­er will start record­ing. The but­ton should turn red once it’s enabled.

Refresh the web­site page and wait for the web­site to ful­ly load. When that’s done, click the red record but­ton to stop record­ing. This is the screen you’re going to see.

Expand the tab to see the order in which the dif­fer­ent files and ele­ments are load­ing, their size, and the load­ing dura­tion of each of the assets on your web­site. The Water­fall tab is a time­line that shows when and how long the dif­fer­ent files take to load. The wider the water­fall block is, the longer it took to load.

All that can help you deter­mine what’s hold­ing up your web­site from load­ing fast.

Remem­ber that the tool does not test the web­site as a whole. Dif­fer­ent pages might have dif­fer­ent issues, so make sure to test all of the impor­tant pages of your website.

Method 3: Using the GTmetrix online tool

GTmetrix  is an easy-to-use per­for­mance test­ing tool that gen­er­ates detailed reports for your web­site. Once you get your results, you’ll also see cus­tom rec­om­men­da­tions you can imple­ment to improve your over­all score.

GTmetrix analy­ses your page using Google Light­house audits and gives you action­able insights for per­for­mance opti­mi­sa­tions. You can test your web­site from dif­fer­ent loca­tions across the con­ti­nents. You can also change browsers, con­nec­tion speeds, and much more.

You can even com­pare your web­site’s per­for­mance to your com­peti­tors’ and see what their score is, and what they are doing dif­fer­ent­ly when it comes to page speed optimisation.

To be able to access all of these fea­tures you need to cre­ate a free account.

Once you’ve cre­at­ed your account, enter your web­site URL and click “Test your site” to gen­er­ate the report.

Here’s what the report looks like.

We’ve test­ed how the web­site per­forms from Cana­da on a Desk­top device that uses Google Chrome as an inter­net browser.

The report gen­er­ates infor­ma­tion on over­all per­for­mance, what the top issues on your web page are, what you can do to improve the results, what the web­site struc­ture is, and more.

One of the best fea­tures is the water­fall visu­al­i­sa­tion, i.e. which ele­ments load first and which load last on your webpage.

Method 4: Using the Pingdom online tool

Ping­dom is an easy-to-use online test­ing tool, which comes with free and pre­mi­um plans.

You sim­ply need to enter your web page’s URL, select a test­ing region and click “Start test”. With Ping­dom, you can mon­i­tor your web­site’s uptime, per­for­mance, and inter­ac­tions for a bet­ter end-user experience.

The free ver­sion does not pro­vide a lot of infor­ma­tion, but if you also use it to com­pare the results from dif­fer­ent tools it’s more than enough. Their plans are real­ly afford­able so you can con­sid­er upgrading.

The free ver­sion grades your score, gives you a list of rec­om­men­da­tions to improve your cur­rent grade, dif­fer­ent con­tent sizes by con­tent type, file requests, and web­page response codes.

When you use Ping­dom, we rec­om­mend you test your web­site from dif­fer­ent loca­tions that are rel­e­vant to your tar­get audi­ence, to under­stand how slow your web­site actu­al­ly is for your customers.

Let’s see the results for purpleplanet.

You can see per­for­mance grade, load time, and the page size in MB. You’ll also receive a list of rec­om­men­da­tions on what you can do to improve your score.

Method 5: Using the WebPage Test online tool

Web­Page Test was orig­i­nal­ly devel­oped by Patrick Meenan for inter­nal use and was open-sourced in 2008. The tool is com­plete­ly free to use.

Web­Page Test is anoth­er great online tool that allows you to test how your web­site per­forms from dif­fer­ent loca­tions around the globe and in dif­fer­ent browsers.

Not only that — click on the advanced set­tings but­ton and you’ll be able to test dif­fer­ent types of con­nec­tions — cable, 3G, 4G and all on dif­fer­ent desk­top resolutions.

Let’s insert the pur­ple­plan­et URL and test it out.

The tool pro­vides you with overview grades of dif­fer­ent aspects such as secu­ri­ty, trans­fer com­pres­sion, sta­t­ic con­tent cache, image com­pres­sion, and more.

It also pro­vides a detailed water­fall view you can exam­ine to see when dif­fer­ent con­tent loads, when the first item loads, when the last one loads, and so on.

You can also watch a live video to see how your web­site page loads. Check out the videos from here.

This tool is great for peo­ple with more expe­ri­ence and knowl­edge, who already know what they’re doing. The tool does not sug­gest what can be done to improve the speed of the web­site and the per­for­mance analy­sis it gen­er­ates is more technical.

Method 6: Use Query Monitor to identify slow plugins

One of the best things about Word­Press is the abil­i­ty to utilise dif­fer­ent plu­g­ins. They let you opti­mise and cus­tomise the site as you choose. How­ev­er, with all the free options avail­able it’s easy to over­do it and fill your web­site with plu­g­ins you don’t real­ly need.

Page speed is often affect­ed by these plu­g­ins, so make sure you often check which plu­g­ins you use and remove the ones you no longer require.

Although the num­ber of plu­g­ins used on your web­site plays a huge role in your web­site per­for­mance, some­times that’s not the case.

It’s pos­si­ble that you are using 1–2 big­ger plu­g­ins that are forc­ing your web­site serv­er to work overtime.

There is a plu­g­in called Query Mon­i­tor, which can help you iden­ti­fy the per­for­mance of your Word­Press plu­g­ins. There are a lot of pos­i­tive reviews from peo­ple who use it on their websites.

Query Mon­i­tor can be accessed through the admin bar in your Word­Press website.

Using the Queries tab in Query Mon­i­tor can show you plu­g­in query times, and how long it takes the serv­er to process each. You can also use the “Queries by com­po­nents” to see an overview of the total time spent on queries for each plugin.

You can iden­ti­fy which plu­g­ins are slow­ing down your web­site and con­sid­er whether you can find an alter­na­tive that works bet­ter or whether you can even remove them from your web­site alto­geth­er. If you use a plu­g­in once every 2–3 months, it is bet­ter to install and unin­stall it than to keep it on your web­site and wait for it to load every time your web­site loads.

Did you check your web­site with these tools?

If your web­site is in great shape, well done!

If you’ve iden­ti­fied that your web­site is slow it’s time to do some­thing about it.

Write down all rec­om­men­da­tions and issues you received from the dif­fer­ent tools you’ve used to check your web­site. See which rec­om­men­da­tions are fre­quent­ly mentioned.

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      To order the service package you’ve chosen, please fill in the form and we’ll get in touch with you soon.