Slow website loading in China is a major headache for foreign companies who are forced to host their sites outside of the Mainland. In this post, I will focus on how you can test website loading speed in China with some online tools.
Loading speed is one of the most important metrics of a website performance and is directly linked to bounce rate (the percentage of visitors who enter the site and then leave rather than continuing on to view other pages within the same site) and search engine ranking. Typically, if takes more than 5 seconds to load a page, a visitor would be most likely to move on. Loading time within 2 seconds is considered to be the optimal.
Not surprisingly, website loading speed in China is also a major factor in website ranking with search engines like Google or, in China’s case Baidu.
Unfortunately, even if your website is loading fast in your main market such as US or Europe, it is almost certain that it will be slower in China. There are two main reasons for it: website that are physically hosted outside of China have to pass the “Great Chinese Firewall” – a set of censorship methods setup by Chinese authorities and designed to restrict internet access to websites hosted on foreign servers. The process slows down data transfers and, ultimately, affects the loading speed of foreign based websites.
How to Test Website Loading Speed in China
I’ve personally tried several of the tools that are often recommended but found the results highly unstable or plain unreliable. First the tools that are, in my opinion, don’t do a very good job. Then, at the end, there is the one that I recommend.
This is quite popular but clearly outdated tool which is obvious from the old-fashioned design. One plus, however, is that it allows selection of different browsers to test: Chrome, Firefox, IE etc. Unfortunately, for China there is just one choice – Shanghai. This can be completely inadequate as the loading speeds across China vary quite a bit.
Last time I tried, it got stuck on me and this was all I got:
Conclusion: not recommended
This is a very basic tool, although with slightly more choices for the cities: Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Xian. Not a particularly exciting interface and doesn’t test HTTPS (only HTTP):Conclusion: still too limited
This tool has a much better designed interface and it allows selecting multiple locations and test them simultaneously. However, the results I got while testing Baidu.com loading in China didn’t make any sense – 4.5 sec to load the number one China’s website in Shanghai? I don’t think so.
This modern looking tool allows testing with several cities such as Shanghai, Beijing, Hangzhou and Qingdao. Unfortunately, it doesn’t allow to run simultaneous tests but one by one. However, when testing website loading speed in China, the results were much more believable: Baidu’s loading time in Shanghai was 0.6 sec. Also, the tools shows some useful breakdown of loading time for different site elements:
Conclusion: acceptable but not the best
This is the tool that is local to China. It is free to use and run by Qihoo-Haosou, one of the most popular Chinese search engines. The only drawback of this one is that it is entirely in Chinese, otherwise it’s perfect.
CE Cloud not only tests the site from every province and major Chinese city but gives a color coded map of China. Hovering over a map shows a more detailed info for each location and there is a report shown at the table below with even more data.
This is by far the best tool out there for testing website loading speed in China. Its straight forward interface ensures that even someone with zero Chinese skills can use it just fine.
Conclusion: the best