Reducing the server response time of your website should be your primary focus in regards to both development and search engine optimization (SEO). Investing the massive time and resources to create a website will become meaningless if it’s slow and people leave your website.
In fact, the first few seconds will ultimately determine whether or not a potential customer stays on your website or bounces and visits a competitor’s website. According to Google, 53% of website users on mobile devices will leave a website that takes longer than more than three seconds to load.
In this article, you’ll learn how to implement seven effective methods to reduce server response times.
To put it simply, server response time is the duration of time that passes between a person requesting a web page and the server responding to the request. Server response times are measured by what is known as TTFB (Time to First Byte).
TTFB is then measured by milliseconds, from the moment a person requests a page to the exact moment the server responds and delivers. This may all sound complicated, but the concept is simple.
When you open a website from your browser, the search engine (Google) takes your request to the server the site is hosted on instantly. The point we’re mentioning here is the amount of time the server responds to the request.
Server response times impact both SEO and user experience (UX). Slow websites are often ignored, causing you to lose out on potential sales opportunities and conversions. As a result, Google recommends all websites to maintain a server response time lower than 200 milliseconds.
However, a response time of 100 milliseconds is more ideal. Any duration over 500 milliseconds is a major dilemma. Overall, here is what you should know about achieving the perfect server response time:
Google estimates that about half of online websites are slow, and 10% of them are fast. This leaves 40% of websites with an average server response time. This creates a lot of areas of improvement.
Below are seven ways you can improve your website’s server response time.
This seems obvious. The faster your hosting provider’s servers are, the quicker your website will load when users click. Unfortunately, website hosting is a very technical concept.
A lot of people don’t know anything about hosting providers and fall victim to subliminal advertising and low prices. When you’re shopping for hosting providers, make sure their servers are always available.
Servers with at least 99.9% uptime means the technology is always online to handle requests. All servers require maintenance, but hosting providers that can ensure 99.9% availability is ideal.
A CDN, or content delivery network, is a framework of widespread networks of proxy servers and their data centers. Essentially, a content delivery network reinforces your server by quickly delivering website content to users as quickly as possible.
If your website caters to worldwide users, investing in a CDN can help all kinds of people enjoy fast response times. Remember that a server that’s located far from your target audience could delay the response time.
Thus, CDNs can deliver content at abnormally fast rates and improve latency issues. This is because CDNs act as a proxy to your server in a remote, virtual location.
Your website’s server response time is also dependent on the optimization of your database. When you first create a website, the database will respond quickly to requests.
However, as your website begins to accumulate more information, its server response time can increase. The good news is that there are ways to optimize your database to speed up your website.
For example, if you are using WordPress, you can use a query checker to identify slow queries. When you discover lagging queries, work diligently on optimizing them. You can try using indexes, changing groups to objects, and more.
WordPress is the most popular content management system (CMS) available on the internet. The website builder offers numerous plugins and themes to help you build and customize a fully-functional website.
If you overload your theme with excessive plugins, you can drag down your server’s response time. Therefore, if you’re going to use a native WP theme, avoid installing too many plugins.
You can use a web page monitoring tool to detect which plugins are slowing down your website, and you should also uninstall plugins you aren’t using. Servers have a difficult time analyzing a website and fetching elements when they have to process too many plugins.
Website developers can minify the code on a website to create a more lightweight website. Minification is the process of reducing the size of the site’s code by truncating comments, unwanted characters, and long variables.
Minifying and compressing scripts helps to keep important data files available without sacrificing its quality. Make sure to externalize ambiguous files to help them cache easier and place tiny files internally as a part of HTML files.
All in all, having a fast website will ultimately depend on its server response time. This is why it’s important to have a fast website hosting and ensure that your site is constructed properly.
Your website’s composition will affect its speed. Therefore, if your website is far too slow, you’ll need to partner with a reputable website development agency. At Dev.co, we specialize in creating efficient websites for our clients.
If you want to create a fast website from scratch, contact us today to speak to a member of our team.
Ryan is the VP of Operations for DEV.co. He brings over a decade of experience in managing custom website and software development projects for clients small and large, managing internal and external teams on meeting and exceeding client expectations–delivering projects on-time and within budget requirements. Ryan is based in El Paso, Texas.