Reducing server response time should be a top priority for WordPress website owners who want to get visitors to stay on their page. All your efforts to create a flawless website in terms of aesthetics and organization will be wasted if your server response time is slower than it should be and visitors lose interest.
A slow server response time can negatively affect the experience of those who want to visit your website, which ultimately means a lower conversion rate and unsatisfactory results in terms of search engine rankings. In a fast-paced world, the success of a website is closely linked to how it is optimized, and server response time is part of that strategy.
What is server response time?
Before we get into the various ways to reduce server response times, we thought we’d give you a brief introduction to what this means and why it’s important for website performance. So, if you have a WordPress website and are experiencing a high bounce rate, read on to find out if slow server response could be the cause and how you can fix it.
Server response time is a critical performance metric that tracks the duration between when a user initiates a request for a web page in their browser and when the server fulfills that request. Essentially, it tracks the time between the user’s request and the server’s response, and is an important factor in website speed and performance. This is usually measured in Time to First Byte (TTFB), which measures how long it takes for the first byte of the website to be received by the user’s browser after an HTTP request has been made (TTFB is measured in milliseconds).
Why should you focus on the server response time?
There are several reasons to focus on improving the server response time. First and foremost is the user experience, which determines bounce rates. The higher the bounce rate, the more likely it is that something is wrong with your website. If the server is slow to respond, the content will appear slower on the user’s device, and a delay can lead to frustration and a negative experience. If you don’t want the visitor to go to your competitor’s website, you need to do something about your server response time. Of the factors that affect server response times, some can be controlled, such as the web hosting you use and whether or not you use a caching solution.
Another reason not to overlook server response time is that SEO efforts will be wasted if users have a negative experience due to slow server response time and this is reflected in high bounce rates. As a result, you may see a drop in search engine rankings, as Google has made page load speed a major ranking factor. In short, the better your TTFB, the better your chances of getting a better position on Google.
How to improve server response time?
If your server response time is over 200ms and you want to improve it, there are a number of things you can do. Here are our top recommendations:
Choose a good and reliable hosting provider
When it comes to hosting, WordPress website owners have a lot of options to choose from. Hundreds of companies offer attractive hosting deals, but they don’t offer the same performance in terms of page speed and support. If you use free web hosting or shared hosting services, it is natural that server response times will be slower.
To provide a positive user experience and maintain fast server response times, you need to invest in good, reliable hosting. It is advisable to choose a hosting provider that focuses on performance and high availability. Because we’ve been working on solutions to improve website loading speed for years, we’ve put together a hosting solution that meets the needs of WordPress owners.
ShortPixel Hosting was created after several years of our team interacting with website owners. The hosting plan includes many features, such as:
- Free transfer for all your website
- 24/7 support
- Free SSL certificates
- Malware scanning, detection and removal
- HTTP/3 support
Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
Another way to reduce server response times is to use a Content Delivery Network (CDN). A CDN is a system of servers that deliver web content to users based on their geographic location. When you use a CDN, the user receives content from the server closest to them. The distance between your server and the user is shorter, which means an improvement in response time.
Most websites that target a global audience use a CDN. This reduces latency and ensures that the user gets the content they want on their device in less time. Using a CDN also means less work for the website hosting server. Ultimately, using a CDN means better performance for your WordPress site, a better user experience through faster content delivery and, last but not least, improved server response time.
Use a good caching solution
Caching solutions are designed to ensure that users enjoy fast loading websites. Without caching, the browser will always require resources from the server when loading a page. The use of caching is an important measure to reduce TTFB, as files are stored locally on the visitor’s computer and used later when they return to the same page, speeding up load times. A good caching solution will give the browser access to locally cached assets, i.e. data retrieval is faster.
Because fewer requests are made and the browser caches data, the server is not as busy, which can ultimately lead to faster response times and a better user experience.
Another tip you can use to reduce server response time is to reduce the size of the code, i.e. to minify the scripts. This means optimizing the files to remove any unnecessary characters like white spaces, comments, and line breaks from the code. It is a process whose purpose is to reduce the time it takes for these files to load.
If the database is poorly optimized, data access and retrieval will be delayed. Initially, when you first create a website, you will not have this problem because the database will respond quickly to requests. Over time, however, a database will become increasingly slow as it handles more and more data.
If you have a lot of content on your website, then the size of your database is correspondingly large. That’s why it’s important to optimize it if you want to reduce server response time.
The use of caching can also be considered as a way of optimizing the database, as caching allows for faster data retrieval and reduced server workload. Regarding database optimization, we can also mention reducing the number of queries to be executed.
Reduce your website bloat
To reduce bloat on your WordPress site, our advice is to stick to lightweight themes, not installing a lot of plugins just for the sake of having them, and compress your images. If you follow these practices, you’ll find that your site loads faster and your server response time improves. Bloated websites load slower and require more resources, hence the slowdown that leads to a poor user experience.
A very common mistake made by WordPress website owners is choosing fancy themes without considering that such themes can slow down the load time because the server has to work harder. Many themes are not coded properly and many plugins are unnecessary – these are things to watch out for. Keep an SEO-friendly theme and only use the plugins you really need.
Keep everything up-to-date
To reduce the server response times and improve the overall performance of your website, it’s important to keep everything up to date. In WordPress, there is a section in the dashboard where you can see if any updates are available and where you can install the latest version.
Updates are a way for developers to improve performance and fix bugs. If you’re running an outdated version of WordPress, a theme or plugin, things may not only be slower, your website may also be more vulnerable to security threats. Therefore, it’s important to regularly check for updates and apply them promptly.
To summarize, we can say that reducing server response time is a critical task for WordPress website owners. By taking the necessary measures and implementing our suggestions above, you will deliver a delightful user experience and increase the chances of conversion. Besides that, reducing server response time can lead to lower bounce rates, improved website performance, and business growth.