Is Google upset about your server response time? Are you getting the “Reduce server response times (TTFB)” from Google Core Web Vitals?

When it comes to optimizing page speed and performance we usually discuss front-end performance and optimization to accelerate the performance of the sites. However, the server-side also plays a critical role in boosting page speed. If you have ever checked your site on Google PageSpeed Insight, you are likely to have come across the following recommendation: “Reduce server response times (TTFB)”. That is what we are going to look at today. In this post, I will share some great tips and tricks to reduce server response time to boost your sites speed and performance. 

But before we move on, you should know the process involved in the rendering of a web page on the user screen. When a visitor opens a web page, their browser sends a request to read the text and download all the necessary assets including all the embedded CSS, JS files and scripts. Once the content and images are downloaded, it starts rendering the content on the screen. The full process involves downloading the assets entirely and depends on the hosting server. Thus, by reducing the server response you can greatly reduce the page loading time and boost your site speed. 

Reduce initial server response time

So Let’s take a look at how you can reduce the server response time on your site within a few minutes.

What is server response time (TTFB)?

Server response time (TTFB) is the time the server takes to respond to the user request and the browser starts to render the content on the screen. So basically it is the time spent waiting for the page to render from the second the visitor sends the request to the server. 

TTFB commonly involve three components including:

1. Time taken to send the HTTP request

TTFB starts right when the client browser sends the HTTP request to the server. There are various factors such as slow DNS lookup time, speed of user’s network, even the distance of the server and several other interruptions in connection that can come in the way of the server to receive the request. This delay in receiving the request increases your server response time and causes the web page to slow down.

2. Time taken to respond to the request

Once the server receives the call, it processes the request and works on starting the rendering process. This includes making database calls, running scripts, caching data from the database, downloading and processing HTML, CSS files and other assets, and communicating with other system networks.

3. Time taken to render the first byte of the content on screen

Once all the assets are downloaded and calls are processed, the server starts to show the first byte of the content on the user screen. The time sent during the whole process is known as server response time.

Why should you reduce server response times (TTFB) on your site? 

We know getting the fastest loading speed is something everyone wants for their website. But of course, it is not really simple. There are several roadblocks that delay your page loading time and frustrate your user. So if you’re seeing a high bounce rate, it might be because of an unnecessary long TTFB. 

The longer the TTFB the longer your site takes to render the first byte of content on your visitor’s screen. And that is the first thing that frustrates the user and pushes them to abandon your page. Moreover, a slow site speed can also hammer your SEO efforts and put your page lower in the Google Search results. So if you want to make your site fast and responsive you should reduce the server response time. 

How to reduce server response time (TTFB) on WordPress? 

There are multiple strategies to reduce the TTFB on your server, but here I have shared some of the key ones that are most likely to work.

1. Use a Fast WordPress Host

The very first strategy to reduce the server response time on your site is using the fastest WordPress host that has carefully thought-out architecture. Since your hosting provider plays a critical role in maintaining speed and performance, switching to a better host can greatly reduce your page loading time.

If you think your website is slow because of your hosting provider try disabling all plugins and using a default WordPress theme and run a test. This will quickly show if your issue is with your host’s server or your WordPress set-up.

Feel free to reach out to your host and ask them about speed they will often try to upsell you to a more powerful server but sometimes they can offer advise as to what areas to improve.

2. Eliminate high CPU Plugins

A lot of the plugins on your WordPress site run ongoing scans and processes on your site. These processes can greatly affect your page speed and slow down the loading process. Eliminating these high CPU plugins can significantly reduce the server response time and increase your page speed. There are some online tools such as Query Monitor and WP Hive that can help you to find these slow plugins on your site.  

High CPU WordPress

3. Cache your WordPress site

Another valuable approach to reduce the TTFB on your server is to set up caching. Caching your WordPress site can greatly decrease your page loading speed by reducing server response. Ask your host or enable it if you have server side caching or use a plugin like WP rocket to cache pages on your site. It is really easy and effortless to do this.

4. Use GZIP Compression

GZIP compression is the process to compress the assets such as HTML, CSS, JS, and images on your site. By compressing these assets you can greatly reduce the server response time. Once the assets are compressed your server will take less time to download and process these files, ultimately reducing the page loading time. Ask your host to enable the GZIP compression on your site. In addition, you can also enable GZIP compression by using some suitable plugins such as Enable Gzip Compression.

The Bottom Line

Hopefully, you can see how critical it is to render your site with the minimal possible time and that can only be possible if your server receives and responds to the visitor request immediately. Above I have mentioned the simplest and efficient way to reduce the server response time. They are pretty easy to implement and you will get the fastest server performance. So give them a try today and enjoy fastest webpage experience. 

Don’t forget to share your valuable experience with TTFB. I would love to hear it in the comment section below. 

Need Help?

Know your websites slow and worried about Google reducing your visibility due to TTFB issues and other speed-related errors. Book in a call to talk to us today or book one of our free speed checks or paid speed audits.

Josh Morley

I have been designing & marketing websites since 2013. I specialize not just in WordPress web design but also in online marketing. SEO, PPC, keyword research, link-building and most recently on lead acquisition for local businesses.

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