It is a beautiful day if you have found yourself here. Because I have prepared for you some of the best and actionable tips to reduce your server response time with a few switches here and there, by implementing these tips to the letter, you should notice a reduced server response time and definitely a better TTFB.
Let’s get started with the basics;
What is server response time?
This is the time it takes for a server to respond to a HTTP request sent by a client. It is calculated in milliseconds.
What is TTFB?
(Time To First Byte) is the amount of time a server takes to process a request and display the first byte of information for the client on their requesting browser.
A couple of things affect TTFB, these are;
- Clients Internet Speed
- DNS Lookup
- Server Distance
- Hosting Package/ Provider
You can check your TTFB using these free tools;
- Webpagetest.org – Website Performance and Optimization Test
What server response time is good?
The short answer is below 200ms.
But, not everyone can attain this.
Therefore, ensuring that your server response time is below 500ms should be your first goal.
On hitting the below 500ms mark, you can then proceed and optimize further to reach the below 200ms mark.
Here are Tips to reduce your server response time:
1. Enable Caching
Without caching, each sent request is processed independently.
That means, even with a thousand requests, all requests will have to undergo multiple executions and many backend processes to display the intended page content.
Caching breaks down the need to unnecessarily processing these requests independently by storing a rendered page before requisition.
Once a client requests access to that content, the server offers the already rendered page.
This reduces wastage of server resources and in return saves time in server request execution, which reduces the server response time and improves TTFB.
So, how do I implement my caching?
I personally use WP Super cache which is a free cache plugin for WordPress site. It is easy to set up and seems to deliver what it promises.
Other Cache Plugins are;
2. Do Away with Unnecessary Plugins
Plugins are vital in the growth of WordPress sites, this we must all agree.
But, for this fact, many find themselves with a ton of unnecessary plugins.
Not all plugins are equal in value. You cannot compare a footer and header addition plugin to an SEO plugin. The latter is definitely worth having.
Many plugins can increase your server response time, especially those that are outdated or those that contain encrypted code.
It is important that you reduce the number of unnecessary plugins to save on server response time.
Among the first plugins to uninstall are those that work similarly or are almost similar in functionality. Choose one that works best and uninstall the other.
3. Use A Content Distribution Network
This is another great way of reducing the amount of time spent to load static assets, saves you server resources.
If you are not using a CDN already, I highly recommend that you do.
Because, by using a CDN, all static assets are cached on the CDNs servers, some of these assets are; images, JS, and CSS files.
And because CDNs have multiple servers distributed across the globe, they reduce latency by providing these cached assets via the server closest to the client.
Providing a cache to your clients improves both TTFB and time to fully loaded.
Personally, I use Cloudflare. You can choose the free package or upgrade to the paid ones.
Here are some other CDN providers that you can choose from;
4. Upgrade your Server Hardware
To save dollars here and there, you might have started on a cheap server.
This likely translates to a server that’s on the downside for CPU Core, RAM Size, and Bandwidth Limit.
Upon gaining some popularity, your traffic also increases, you start to get more server requests than before
And because your server is not ready to handle that, It is likely things will get really slow.
To reduce your server response time, upgrading your server hardware is recommended.
You can choose a better hosting package or switch from shared hosting to a managed hosting.
Shared hosting is okay. But, when one site starts to put a lot of pressure on the server, that pressure is felt by the other sites, their loading speed increases as well as the TTFB.
With shared hosting, you can’t do much when this happens.
But, with managed hosting, you are in control of almost everything, starting from the hosting itself, backup performance, and security enhancement.
With managed hosting, you can reduce your server response time by optimizing everything on the backend to meet your needs while at the same time becoming solely responsible for how your server performs.
6. Upgrade To PHP 7
To use PHP 7, choose a hosting provider that offers PHP 7.
This way, you will increase your site’s performance by almost 2 times.
Therefore, by just using PHP 7, you reduce your server response time.
7. Implement GZIP Compression
By using GZIP compression, you save on server resource take up. This reduces the server response time.
You can check if your site uses GZIP compression here
You can enable GZIP compression on WordPress plugins such as; WP Rocket and W3 Total Cache.
8. Upgrade your Server Software To Reduce Server Response Time
Using outdated software will take more of your server resources and result in poor server response handling, which will slow you down.
Depending on what you use, Apache, NGINX, or MySQL/MariaDB. You must keep updating to their latest version.
By upgrading/updating your outdated server software, you will reduce your server response time, making response handling better and faster.
9. Reduce The Number Of External Queries
Eternal queries are requests that need to be processed on other external servers before your page renders.
For each external query comes extra time to server response.
This is because each request needs to be processed and information sent back so that the page can load fully.
Reducing the number of query requests will, therefore, reduce your server response time and improve your overall loading speed.
Although caching can reduce the time it takes to load these queries, they will still result in external calls now and then.
And, more external queries mean a slower server execution process.
10. Reduce Redirects
Now and then, you will find yourself using redirects to point your visitors in the right direction.
But, redirects affect the server response time by increasing the number of HTTP requests sent to the server for execution.
With many redirects, a server takes more time to render the requested page.
Ensuring that redirects on your page are, at a minimum, is, therefore, a great way to reduce your server response time.
Fewer redirects translate to a faster HTTP request execution and a faster page loading speed.
11. Implement Lazy Loading
Lazy loading is important as it improves the TTFB.
A user can interact with some of your content before the rest of the page is fully visible.
Therefore, choosing what loads first will reduce your server response time and make content visible fast.
For instance, you can lazy load your scripts later or concurrently with other page content. Hence, you end up saving on your server resource uptake. This improves your server request execution speed.
To enable lazy loading on your WordPress site, use plugins like WP Rocket, Lazy Load, BJ Lazy Load, and Phastphress.
12. Optimize Your Database
A database is like a library. Both store information that can be retrieved when need be.
With proper arrangement and sectioning, retrieving your favorite book becomes very easy.
Similarly, databases need to stay clean, optimized, and updated.
Removing old and unnecessary data will reduce your server response time by cutting the need to go through unnecessary data.
You can also restructure your query format to execute your requests faster.
Here are some of the best WordPress database optimization plugins;
To improve your conversion rate, having a fast query execution from your servers is crucial.
Therefore, you must put into action all the tips that we have discussed above.
With a better server response time comes a better loading speed, which is an important SEO and search engine ranking influencing factor.
Focusing on making your server response time better will improve your overall technical and On-page SEO. This way, more quality traffic will come your way.
Think I left out anything? Feel free to share in the comments below.
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