Improve Server Response Time
Over 35% of websites are based on WordPress, and many new customization plugins, themes, and other extensions are released by WP every year. They allow you to fine-tune your platform according to your individual needs, and implement unique design elements and functionality.
While increased diversity and accessibility are useful features, a wrong mix of technologies can cause a variety of compatibility issues. In this article, we will focus on delayed response times, what causes them and how to address them.
Importance of Fast Server Response Time
Since 2018, Google has used server response time as a primary ranking factor, which makes this metric vital to your online platform’s SEO performance.
Google’s ranking policy is geared to providing the most valuable, high-quality and engaging content to users. If your website fails to respond quickly, Google may assume it is obsolete and ineffective, and your pages will be buried deep in search.
Research has shown that most websites featured on page one in SERPs have a loading time of two seconds or less. Let’s discuss how you can attain faster response time.
Check Your Platform’s Response Time
Even if your platform responds quickly to your requests, it may not perform in the same way for first-time visitors. Modern browsers are able to memorize user behavior and promptly retrieve previously viewed content. But for first-time visitors, all features are reproduced in a browser from scratch. The experience of a new lead on your website may differ greatly from your own.
Use tools like WordPress Speed Test to get an idea of how well your platform performs. Most tools for testing response time are free and provide instant and accurate results. If your response time is longer than two seconds, you need to identify the reasons for the slowdown and find effective solutions.
Factors That Reduce WordPress Server Response Time
Your speed test program will likely provide recommendations for reducing your WordPress server response time by addressing the following issues:
- Improper web hosting configuration
- Failure to cache pages in visitor histories. In this case, all the elements are uploaded to a user’s browser every time they visit your platform, increasing server load and risking the website’s crash.
- Non-optimized visual content.
- Poorly coded plugins.
- Heavy external scripts.
How to Reduce Server Response Time in WordPress
The following tips for reducing server response time require no coding adjustments, which is a huge relief for beginners. You can improve your loading time by taking a few simple steps.
Use a Managed Hosting Instead of a Shared Hosting
Reliable and responsive hosting is vital to fast loading speed. Although there are many good shared hosting providers, we do not recommend using tham. If another website overloads a shared server, it can lengthen your response time and alienate your site’s visitors.
A managed solution gives you sole control over hosting performance and lets you take advantage of automatic backups, updates and advanced security options.
Enable Caching with a Special Plugin
WordPress builds dynamic pages, meaning that users can change their content by simply entering new information. Each time a user revises page content, time and resources are spent to analyze their intentions, prepare the necessary response and display it in a browser. Multiple visitors interacting with your website simultaneously can overload it and cause server response issues.
Caching plugins can prevent overloading and help WordPress reduce server response speed by two to five times. Rather than uploading all the elements every time your pages are accessed by repeat visitors, plugins create page templates in the first visit and change only affected elements in all subsequent sessions. There is no need to constantly retrieve unchangeable information from backend files and convert it to HTML.
Lighten Your Images
To quickly engage prospective clients and inspire them to read your content, you need stylish and appealing visuals, original design elements and text that supplements your illustrations to describe your products or services.
While visuals are essential to user engagement, they can also increase response time. To avoid this, properly optimize all your images prior to placing them on your pages. There are many free programs for compressing images and changing their format, to reduce the file size by up to five times.
The two most common image formats:
- PNG is an uncompressed format that saves most details and provides good quality. At the same time, PNG has a relatively large size and takes a long time to upload. Use PNG for simple images or those with a transparent background.
- JPEG is a compressed format that provides lower quality but uploads significantly faster. Use JPEG for complex multi-color images.
Regularly Update Your WordPress Version and Extensions
WordPress is regularly updated, along with its plugins and themes, to meet current web requirements. By updating your version of WordPress immediately after a new release, you can leverage new features and gain more control over security and bug detection. Since hackers constantly update their toolkits, using obsolete technologies can expose your platform to security risks.
Rationalize Background Processes
Too-frequent backups or crawling can lead to response slowdown.
There is no point in making daily backups if you only update your content a couple of times per week. Use low traffic times on your website to make sure your backup plugins are active. SaaS solutions are recommended if you need to do frequent backups.
Access Google Search Console to determine if your platform is being crawled as frequently and thoroughly as you need it to be, or make adjustments.
Some other helpful tips to minimize response time:
- Use previews instead of displaying entire articles on your homepage
- Divide long articles and comments into pages
- Limit the number of comments and guest post revisions
- Monitor and take advantage of PHP updates
- Use a CDN to promptly deliver content from local servers
- Upload videos via YouTube rather than WordPress
- Use special speed-optimized themes and plugins
- Disable unnecessary scripts and styles to reduce HTTP queries
- Optimize your CMS database
- Install anti-hotlinking protection
- Lazy-load visual content
Applying all the above tips should greatly increase your website’s response time and improve your ranking in SERPs. Keeping up to speed with the latest updates and using the best WordPress practices will boost the speed and performance of your online platform.