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There are a lot of reasons why you should invest in a functional website to grow your business. One of the most significant reasons is that websites help form and shape your client’s impression of your brand. Your website is like a showroom or storefront— it gives your potential customers an idea of what you’re about.

Customers are increasingly searching for products and services online nowadays. When they do, even before they see your store or speak with your employees, they interact with your website first. The more functional your website is, the better your brand perception, and the more likely they are to make a purchase.

So, the question is, “what makes my website optimally functional?”. For starters, your server response time goes a long way in improving your website’s ratings. If you’d like to know more about server response time and how important it is for your website, you’re welcome to read through this article.

What’s TTFB?

TTFB is short for “Time To First Byte.” It’s a metric for determining how responsive your webserver is. It’s the amount of time your server takes to receive its first data byte from the webserver after making an HTTP request.   TTFB comprises three distinct components:

  1. The time it takes to send an HTTP request
  2. How long the server takes to process the request
  3. The time the server takes to send the first byte of data to the client or user.

For better comprehension, TTFB is also called the server response time. When you browse on the internet, you send a request and hope to get a response asap. Sometimes, you may notice that when you send your request, you get your answers almost immediately.

At other times, you may have to wait for several seconds (or even a few minutes) to get your feedback. The time interval from when you typed in your data to when you receive the first byte of data is your webserver’s TTFB or server response time. TTFB is slow when it takes a lot of time to load a page. It’s fast when it takes little or no time to respond to your request.

Slow TTFB is every web user’s nightmare. That’s more so when time is of the essence, or it’s an emergency—as it almost always is. Many clients will get irritated if your server loads slowly and ditch your brand with the speedy server response time.

Again, slow TTFB will do your business more harm than good, especially if you’re looking forward to boosting SEO rankings on your website. With a fast-loading website, you stand a higher chance of achieving your business goals and objectives. Research by Google and SOASTA reveals that a page with more than 6 seconds of load-time increases the bounce rate by over 100%. It also reduces the probability of conversions by 95%.


What Factors Influence Server Response Times?

If your server takes forever to load, many reasons could be responsible for that. They include:

1.    Oversized Images

Uploading a large image to your site is equivalent to over-burdening your website. The image would be too much for your site’s capacity and would invariably take too long to load. Your uploaded images should be a mix of web-friendliness and quality. Otherwise, not only will your website function poorly, but it will also harm your SEO rankings.

2.    Plugins

WordPress plugins indeed help to enhance website functionality. It’s also true that they allow you to maintain your site even when you have no technical knowledge in that regard. However, plugins also can slow your site down when they become too many. Be intentional about choosing optimized plugins to increase your chances of a faster-loading website.

3.    Bad Server/ Hosting

Your choice of hosting web service determines where your server will be placed on. That will invariably affect the speed of your page loads. If your hosting service doesn’t provide enough resources on the server, it’d not be easy to achieve a speedy response time. For this reason, it’s essential first to understand your server’s need to choose a hosting solution that meets them. For example, it’s a terrible idea to host an extensive website on shared hosting.

4.    Hotlinking

When someone steals your bandwidth by copying a content’s URL from your website (the source) and posting it on their website, they’re hotlinking. Whenever anyone clicks on the hot-linked image from the stealer site, the image loads with your server and depletes your server resources. As a result, it affects your site performance, and your page-loading speed reduces.

5.    Traffic Volume

As your site grows and entertains more traffic, you should pay attention to your bandwidth capacity. It’s essential to adjust your bandwidth to accommodate traffic as it comes. Otherwise,  your traffic influx would be too much for your server to manage, and it’d reduce your TTFB.

It’s crucial to access your website performance at intervals and discover what factors increase your server response time. It’d put you in a better position to solve the problem.

Ten Tips to Help Your Website Load Faster

If you’re worried about your server’s performance and aim for a speedier loading website, these ten tips can help:

1.    Move your website to a Credible Hosting Solution

The first step to an optimally functional website is choosing the best web hosting solution that suits your needs. Generally, however, dedicated hosting offers the best experience in performance and speed. Using shared hosting for a website with heavy traffic would impede your network speed.

Apart from the hosting solution, your service provider matters too. Only stick with hosting service providers that provide only the best quality servers for their clients.

2.    Optimize and Reduce Image Sizes

Images account for the bulk of your website’s page weight. Image sizes that are too large for the website size pose a serious threat to the site’s operations. Typically, larger images make for slower websites. To solve the problem, you can reduce the number of images on your site and also reduce the sizes of the remainder. You can do this by changing the resolution of your images to the standard web resolution size (72 DPI). You can also reduce the image size by cropping the unnecessary parts out.

3.    Try Caching

Caching helps to lessen the number of requests that a server needs to process. With caching, the elements of a requested page are cataloged in temporary storage or cache. As a result, the next time the user visits the site, their browser will load the page without sending another HTTP request to the server.

So, instead of reloading the page, the website displays the cached version and saves the server from attending to overwhelming numbers of requests. By storing cache versions of data, server lag is reduced and page speed increases extensively.

4.    Enable HTTP Keep-Alive Response Headers

When you send HTTP requests, they clench a file, send and close. It’s a simple process, but here’s the catch—it’s time-consuming too. However, you can use HTTP keep-alive response headers to hasten the process. The headers do this by ensuring that the server and browser grab and distribute several files using the same connection.

5.    Evaluate Your Plugins

While plugins are good, be careful that they don’t become so many that they harm your website’s functionality and loading speed. First, outdated plugins slow down your site’s performance, so make sure they’re removed and replaced with their updated versions. Also, try not to entertain plugins with the same features as already existing ones. Only use plugins that are necessary for your sites’ top-level performance.

6.    Compress Your Content

Apart from images, you should consider compressing your overall website content too. It’d help improve your server performance. You can explore various online compressor services that read your HTML and CSS code of excess spaces and characters. Alternatively, if you use web servers like Apache and IIS, you’d have access to the GZIP compression algorithm. They’d compress your content automatically across CSS, JavaScript and HTML.

7.    Evaluate Your Physical Server Location

Regardless of how great your hosting solution is, the risk of experiencing high TTFB increases as the distance between your target audience and your web server location widens. In more precise terms, it’s wise to ensure that your servers are physically sited near your web visitors.

That’s because when server requests are made, it has to travel from the request location to the server for processing and back to the request location. The closer your servers are to your site visitors, the higher the probability of a fast-loading page.

8.    Combine Images with CSS Sprites

Lots of images on your website page forces the server to make several round trips in order to get all the resources. As you can guess, this impacts your servers’ speed and slows it down. Using CSS image sprites, you can compress all the images on the background page into a single picture. That way, all the images load with the single one and the speed-limiting round trips are done away with.

9.    Use Asynchronous Loading for CSS and Javascripts

You can optimize the way your files load on your pages after you’ve minified them. By configuring your scripts ( CSS and JavaScript) to load asynchronously, they can help speed up your pages. That’s because asynchronous scripts load simultaneously. As such, unlike synchronous scripts, when your browser loads a page, it doesn’t have to wait for each script to load one after the other. Instead, asynchronous files load all at once, reducing the server response time.

10. Use a CDN

One great way to reduce load times for your site users is to use other server networks alongside your hosting server. That means that different servers would handle user’s requests. As a result, a single server wouldn’t be overburdened with high traffic levels.

Using a CDN ( Content Delivery Network), you’re caching your site on a global network of servers. So, when users make a request, it is processed by the closest server available. This strategy significantly helps to decrease load times.

Advantages of a Reduced Server Response Time

There are lots of benefits you will enjoy when your server’s response time is reduced to a minimum. Here’s some:

1.    Boosts Website Quality

When defining website quality, your TTFB is a major determining factor. No one wants to associate with a website with poor and slow page-load time.

2.    Increased SEO rankings

You will love your website to pop up first on the search engine when a potential client searches your services. To achieve this, you must pay attention to your SEO rankings. The higher Google rates your website, the more your chances of being on the first page of the search engine. Search engines use a lot of factors to rank websites—loading speed is one of them.

3.    Boosts Sales and Brand Visibility

Fast page loads are a major attraction for customers. With improved user experience, your target audience is more likely to interact with your site, make purchases and refer more clients.

4.    Helps to Form a Good Brand Perception

When your page loads fast and your website is top-functioning, it helps to shape your clients’ view of your brand. It creates the perception of integrity, trustworthiness and professionalism. If this positive brand perception is sustained over time, it can easily translate to brand loyalty.

5.    Saves Time

The more activities your business can conclude per time, the higher the probability of business growth. Time is money and when your site page loads slowly, you lose customers and invariably lose money. Reduced server loading time not only benefits your clients, it helps you achieve your business goals within a shorter time frame.

Lessen Your TTFB with the Best Dedicated Hosting Service Provider Right Away!

If all your efforts to lessen your server response time prove abortive, then your only option is to change your hosting service provider. The best-dedicated service providers offer industry-leading server equipment to their clients with 100% network uptime.

At GTHost, we provide cost-effective solutions to reduce your TTFB and help you achieve your business goals. Consult with us today!

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