Reducing Server Response Time To Increase Website Speed

Everyone today wants a website with lightning speed. One way to achieve this goal is to reduce the server response time (SRT) of your website. Server response time is the time taken for the web browser to receive a response. When the server response is slow, it takes longer to load the page no matter how much you optimize an individual page. This is a threat to your website’s performance and proper attention is needed to rectify this issue. If the website doesn’t load in the first couple of seconds then the customer might not stay on your page and would bounce to a competitor.

When users navigate to a URL in their web browser, the browser makes a network request to fetch that content. Your server receives the request and returns the page content. The server may need to do a lot of work in order to return a page with all of the content that users want. For example, if users are looking at their order history, the server needs to fetch each user’s history from a database, and then insert that content into the page.

However, optimizing our server to do this task as quickly as possible can help us to reduce the time required to load the page. In order to do that, we need to first identify the core conceptual tasks that your server must complete in order to return page content, and then measure how long each of these tasks takes. Once you’ve identified the longest tasks, search for ways to speed them up. According to Google’s PageSpeed Insights, your server response time should be under 200ms. Your aim should be to achieve this goal as it is a big booster to your overall SEO.

Some of the possible ways to improve your server response time are:

  • Optimize the server’s application logic to prepare pages faster. If you use a server framework, the framework may have recommendations on how to do this.
  • Optimize how your server queries databases, or migrate to faster database systems. By ensuring that your database can retrieve data as efficiently as possible, you speed up the loading times for your site as a whole, not just the page the browser currently displays. Slow queries are the number one reason why a server responds to a request slowly, so you should spend time identifying ways to prevent bottlenecks. Server optimization is a deep topic where specific steps vary depending on what server you use.

Good place to start with when optimizing include:

  • Rewriting your queries so that they return only what you need and are written with performance in mind (for example, use joins instead of loops)
    • Using indexes where necessary or appropriate
    • Changing your schema to group objects such as tables, views, and stored procedures appropriately
  • Upgrade your server hardware to have more memory or CPU.
  • Checking the hosting. If you want your pages to load as quickly as possible for your users, the first thing you need to have is sufficient resources to handle your traffic. If you lack resources then additional traffic results in longer SRTs, meaning your server handles fewer users in a given period. It is essential to maintain fast server response times that do not fluctuate. Free web hosting, inadequate hosting services with minimal or no support, and shared resources all contribute to slower servers. You go for cheap hosting plans when you start. However, with time as your traffic increases, you should opt for faster hosting plans. SiteGround has some really good reviews and EIG owned companies don’t have good reviews because they pack too many websites in the same server to cut costs.
  • Choose Your Web Server Carefully. While Apache is an excellent and attractive option, you might be able to get better results using something else, such as Nginx or OpenLiteSpeed. While comparing the many options available might seem overwhelming, putting in a bit of time in the beginning will pay off later as you are better able to handle changes in your server needs.
  • Optimize Your Web Servers. Once you’ve chosen a web server to use, you’ll need to set it up. While it’s tempting to take the easy route and go with the default settings, one size does not fit all. By choosing this option, you run the risk of using a sub-optimal configuration for your needs and usage patterns. Unfortunately, each web server configuration differs from another, so there’s no generalized solution for optimizing a web server. Refer to the documentation specific to yours for additional information on how to get the best performance possible.
  • Reduce Bloat. If you’re using a content management system (CMS) like WordPress or Magento, your site will accumulate bloat unless carefully managed. Even if you don’t use a CMS, you still run this risk as you add content (e.g. images, new content pages, and so on) to your site over time. As such, cull things that you do not need. Optimize your images, combine your resources, and enable compression since smaller files are your friend when it comes to lowering SRTs. Eliminate render-blocking JavaScript and CSS in above-the-fold content.
  • Use a Content Delivery Network or CDN: A content delivery network (CDN) is a system of distributed servers (network) that deliver pages and other Web content to a user, based on the geographic locations of the user, the location of the web page and the content delivery server.
  • Upgrade your PHP version: The newer versions are faster and better, so make sure that you have the latest version of PHP for your website.
  • Check if you are using HTTP/2: Some hosting companies don’t support HTTP/2 so it would be great if you check whether you are using the latest version of HTTP. If you don’t have the latest version then pick you phone asking your hosting company for an upgrade or it would be wise to consider moving to a different hosting company.
  • Reduce request from external sites: You will not be able to optimize your website for external request and this will only increase the response time. Only use external request when it is absolutely necessary.

The above-mentioned steps can be universally applied. However, if you are using WordPress CMS then you can try the below mentioned steps:

WordPress allows you to create beautiful websites easily. It has appealing themes and numerous plugins for customizing. However, be careful not to overload your theme as it can slow down response time. If you are using a WP template, try to stick to simple, lightweight ones and avoid adding too many plugins

  • Find, uninstall and delete plugins which uses lots of resources: These are mostly those who run continuously at the background such as WordPress related posts, WordPress popular posts, Jetpack, Sliders, etc. Delete any unused plugins and deactivate ones that use up CPU.
  • Upgrade your PHP version: Always check whether you have the latest version of PHP or not. If you are using GoDaddy hosting, then you can go to the dashboard and change the PHP version.
  • Avoid External Requests: We can’t optimize our external requests because we are relying on external servers to populate information. It would be best if we have fewer or no external requests to reduce server response time.

Once you have resolved the potential shortcoming the following steps should be monitored regularly:

  • Gather and inspect existing performance and data. If none is available, evaluate using an automated web application monitoring solution (there are hosted and open source versions available for most platforms), or add custom instrumentation.
  • Identify and fix top performance bottlenecks. If you are using a popular web framework, or content management platform, consult the documentation for performance optimization best practices.
  • Monitor and alert for any future performance regressions!

If you need a website which has the speed of the lightning, attention is needed to be given to reduce the server response time. If you optimize your server, your website will run smoothly.

Leave a Comment