7 Tips To Reduce Server Response Times (TTFB)

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7 Tips To Reduce Server Response Times (TTFB)

Google Pagespeed Score

You’ve probably used Google’s PageSpeed Insights and get a low score. And one of the opportunities mentioned was ‘Reduce server response times (TTFB)’.

If you are searching for ideas on how you can fix this, then you are in the right place.

In this article, I will be sharing what is Time to First Byte (TTFB) and most importantly, how you can reduce TTFB and increase your Google PageSpeed score.

What is Time To First Byte (TTFB)?

TTFB measures the responsiveness of your web server (i.e how long it takes for your server to respond and send the first byte of data to your visitors’ browser).

Usually measured in milliseconds (ms), a faster and responsive web server will have a smaller TTFB number compared to a slower web server.

Why is TTFB Important?

TTFB determines how fast your website loads for your visitors. A fast and responsive web server means your website loads faster.

When your website loads fast, it will give your website visitors a good experience, which will increase your chance of conversion, regardless of what conversion you are looking for.

On the other hand, a fast website also helps you rank better on search engines, giving you more traffic, and more conversions.

What is Good TTFB?

A good TTFB is below 200ms according to this Google developer. That’s like the blink of an eye!

However, finding such a web server is often difficult without costing a bomb. I usually recommend a more realistic TTFB between 300 to 500 milliseconds.

What Causes a Slow TTFB?

According to the same Google developer, a slow TTFB usually caused by 2 primary issues:-

  • Bad network conditions between your visitor’s and your web server, or
  • A slow and unresponsive web server

To know what causes your website to have a slow TTFB, let’s use some tools to measure it.

How to Measure TTFB?

You can use this KeyCDN tool to measure the TTFB of your web server from multiple locations.

Step 1: Go to https://tools.keycdn.com/performance and enter your website URL to start testing

Step 2: Check the TTFB of your web server from different locations. TTFB with the smallest number usually indicates the location of your server

In the example above, the server is located in Amsterdam with a TTFB of just 56ms. If a visitor comes from Amsterdam, the site will loads a lot faster for this visitor.

How to Reduce TTFB and Speed Up WordPress Site

About 36% of websites on the internet are powered by WordPress according to W3Techs. Which is why some of the tips below are specific to WordPress sites.

Quick Hack: Combine a Fast Web Hosting (FastComet) and a 3-in-1 CDN, Caching & Minification Plugin (Nitropack.io) to instantly reduce TTFB and boost your website’s speed!

1. Switch to a Fast Web Hosting

In order to improve the TTFB of your web server, you’ll have to switch to a faster web hosting.

Avoid EIG-Owned Web Hosting

Many web hostings are owned by the same company called EIG. According to Wikipedia, EIG owned 87 different brands such as Hostgator, BlueHost, and iPage to name a few.

EIG-owned web hosting is notorious for their slow servers and bad customer support. It was thoroughly discussed in social media, Reddit and review sites.

List of Best TTFB Hosting (Non-EIG)

  • FastComet (shared hosting from USD 9.95/month
  • A2Hosting (shared hosting from USD 7.99/month)
  • WPEngine (premium hosting from USD 25/month)

I’ve personally used FastComet and A2Hosting. FastComet server is fast with great support. A2Hosting is good and support is not too bad too.

I’ve not used WPEngine personally but I have heard great things about them from social media and review sites.

2. Keep Your Server As Close to Your Users As Possible

This is a no brainer. If a visitor from the US visiting your website is also located in the US, your website will load faster due to the closer proximity.

Most web hosting allows you to select a server location of your choice. Choose the location where most of your visitors are coming from.

3. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

CDN is a network of servers across the globe. It stores a copy of your website’s files in its network and serves it to your visitors from the closest server (i.e a visitor from Singapore will load these files from its Singapore server instead of loading all the way from your US server).

You can use a free CDN called Cloudflare.  I’ve been using Cloudflare for all my sites and have seen a boost in my site’s loading speed as well as reduced TTFB.

4. Use a WordPress Caching Plugin

A WordPress site executes a lot of scripts, database operations, etc to load your website. This can slows down the TTFB and overall loading speed of your website.

caching plugin generates a static version of your website and saves it on your server. When a visitor visits your website, your caching plugin serves up the lighter static version instead of processing the usual heavier load.

One of the best caching plugins I’ve used so far is Nitropack. I consistently get very fast loading speed and high Google PageSpeed score just by using this plugin. (Get 10% off Nitropack paid subscription plan with coupon code dscom10)

NitroPack with High Google PageSpeed Score

5. Use a WordPress Minify Plugin

A minify plugin reduces the overall file size of your website. The smaller file size will lead to files being downloaded faster and improve loading speed in the process.

Nitropack plugin mentioned in #4 has this feature included automatically so you can get the benefits without any extra works.

However, if for whatever reason you are not using Nitropack, you can try another plugin called Autoptimize + Cache Enabler. Quite easy to set up as use although not as good as Nitropack.

6. Optimize Database with WP Optimize

A database is another crucial part of your website where all your data is stored in the database. In order for your website to loads, it needs to read all the information stored in the database.

As your website starts to get bigger, your database will starts to get slower due to the amount of data it stores. Thus, you will need to optimize the database periodically.

WP Optimize is a WordPress plugin that do just that. Just install the plugin and start optimizing your database.

However, if your website is not very big, the optimization may not help much. Which is why this tips is not at the top of the list.

7. Keep WordPress Lightweight

This last tip is really about removing unnecessary plugins and themes from your website.

Many WordPress sites are guilty of this, installing tons of plugins that isn’t useful or no longer needed. Which eventually slows down their website.

Go through the list of installed plugins and themes, deactivate and delete any that you think is not needed anymore.

Final Thoughts

That’s the 7 tips that you can try to reduce the server response times and improve your website’s loading speed.

Most of these tips are easy to implement. Give them a try and let me know in the comment if you encounter any issue trying to implement any of these tips.

Disclosure: Some of the links in my post are affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I’ll earn a small commission to keep me going, without any additional cost to you 🙂

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