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A related question is: Is there a service or consulting company that can verify that your server is optimized properly for serving your site?
As far as optimisation for webserving, there are a lot of sites out there that deal with fine-tuning, Apache in particular. Having tried thttpd, I'm hooked on it, but it doesn't do fancy stuff like PHP.
SQL may be fun, but it can slow a site down... One of my customers' site is a busy forum, and they crash SQL every other week, almost regular as clockwork. Gettin' annoying. :)
I've always wondered how to translate from numbers to subjective experience, this is truly difficult to do - to say that a latency of x ms translates into an acceptable experience or not.
I suppose it also depends on the user's internet connection and distance from the server. What would be interesting is if there was a statistical method to determine that your site traffic was capped relative to another benchmark system and to suggest that this difference was a function of users being frustrated with the slowness of the connection.
Checking the connection speed, and checking the server itself (as with "top"), are about the easiest things you can do...
I use the various VisualRoute servers to check the latency of my sites from various parts of the world at various times of the day. It's cheap, and it's worked well enough for me.
Any specific resource to suggest... And any free tool that helps do it.
I don't check Alexa often, but I notice that none of my sites (all in the one-million plus ranking, alas) have speeds listed...