I’m sure, you must have also used many online tools to check the performance of a WordPress site and taken a few steps to speed up a WordPress site. But, you did not get the expected results. Right? Well, you might be aware of the fact that optimizing a WordPress site depends on the front-end as well as the back-end development including your hosting.
Today, I will tell you the role of a managed WordPress hosting provider in speeding up a WordPress site and how hosting helps to reduce server response time for a site. But before I start, I want you to make understand the flow of displaying a web page. There are mainly four steps involved:
- Request: Request made by the visitor’s browser
- Response: The web page files, resources, and scripts are processed by the server and sent back to the requested web browser
- Build: Web browser uses page resources to build a web page
- Render: The page is displayed to the visitor
The second step (response) is entirely dependent on your hosting server. In the first step, the visitor makes a request, then waits for the server to process and respond. If the server is too busy handling other requests, then it might not perform the way it’s supposed to. This is quite common in shared hosting where we are promised to get unlimited resources but those resources are further shared with hundreds of other sites as well. The delay in server response can affect the overall performance of a page to load. As a result, a slow web page load affects the SEO as well as user experience.
What is Server Response Time?
Server response time is a time taken by a server to respond to the visitor’s request. It is also referred to as the Time To First Byte (TTFB).
While reviewing the results generated by an online performance analyzing tool like WebPageTest, you might have noticed TTFB. According to Google guidelines, a website shouldn’t have TTFB more than 200 ms.
If you run a speed test of a WordPress site, then you probably come across references of slow admin-ajax.php in your results. If yes, learn how to fix it!
How to Reduce Server Response Time?
Many factors can cause a slow server response time. But, here, I’ll highlight the most prominent factors that can be controlled by site owners.
- Distance Between Server and Visitors
- Hosting Resources
- Dynamic vs. Static
- Server Software
- Choose WordPress Hosting Wisely
- How Cloudways Helps In Improving Server Response Time?
1. Distance Between Server and Visitors
Let’s start with the fundamental one!
Before getting a hosting server, you must know the audience of your site and choose the data center nearest to your targeted audience. Due to the minimum distance between server and visitors, latency will also be the minimum. As a result, it helps you reduce server response time.
If the audience is global, you can take advantage of WordPress CDN providers that distribute the assets to different nodes available globally, which in results help improve server response time.
With the continuous growth of your business, it is evident that you can get a sudden increase in the traffic. Let’s take an example: if you own a business site like a coffee shop and launches a special offer, then your number of visitors can be increased dramatically. Resulting, more and more visitors start requesting the server to respond at the same time. And if the server fails to tackle all those requests, you can face downtime and hence a decline in sales and reputation.
3. Hosting Resources
Requirements gathering is the most essential and the very first step to jump into a business. You must be aware of your requirements, either the available resources can handle all the stuff correctly or not. If you are not sure, which hosting server can cater to all your expectations. Contact your hosting provider support first and tell your expectations so they can guide you accordingly. You may also try the service before actually investing in it.
Cloudways offers a free trial (without a credit card) in which you can launch any server and test its capabilities against your requirements.
A database is a place where all the required information is stored. It must be optimized so that it can easily be accessed, managed, and updated. If the database is very complex, it may take a bit of more time to process the request resulting in a slow server response time. Try to remove the unnecessary data and recheck queries, either they were written considering optimization.
5. Dynamic vs. Static
Dynamic content is generated at runtime on the request generated by a visitor. It varies from user to user. For example, I have ordered a coffee and you have ordered a burger. While handling the request generated by ordering food, a server needs to contact the database and serve accordingly. What if a lot of customers are ordering the food at the same time with different requirements?
The static content is the one that is hardcoded in HTML, JS, CSS, and images. They will not change on the user-input. The server delivers the same content to every visitor. This is the fastest way to deliver the content as it does not consume many resources of a server. As a result, an improvement in server response time and a faster web experience.
If you think there are a few dynamic stuff that can be used as the static content. Try to convert dynamic into the static one so that it can be served in a faster way. You can also offload static contents by using a CDN to reduce load time on the server.
6. Server Software
Another important thing is the stack of your server. For example, which software and services are being used to handle the server like, Apache, Nginx, MySQL/MariaDB etc. However, these are the free web server options that can be used to perform all of the above-mentioned factors in this article.
Don’t forget to keep your WordPress updated. Most of the WordPress users are still using the older versions of PHP. WordPress itself recommends using PHP7 as it powers processing requests in a faster way.
WordPress on PHP 7: Performance Benchmarks & Upgrade Guide
7. Choose WordPress Hosting Wisely
Considering the above factors, I would suggest going with a dedicated environment so that you can control and optimize the stuff accordingly. If you are not a tech-savvy, choose a highly-optimized managed WordPress hosting provider. But be sure that the respective hosting provider meets the above factors.
8. How Cloudways Helps In Improving Server Response Time?
Cloudways is a managed cloud hosting platform that has its optimized server stack and is ideal for WordPress sites. A basic WordPress site hosted on Cloudways and Breeze installed can be loaded in just a few ms. Isn’t it impressive?
Load WordPress Sites in as fast as 37ms! Thanks to the Best Hosting for WordPress
- Distance Between Server and Visitors
Cloudways has partnered with top-notch cloud infrastructure providers having 55+ data centers globally. No matter where your audience is, just choose the data center nearest to the audience and launch the server with a respective cloud infrastructure.
Remember, the closer the server helps improve server response time. For the global audience, utilize CloudwaysCDN.
With the growth of your business, it’s obvious that you will be having an increase in the traffic. Cloudways offers you to scale-up the server resources in just a single click.
- Hosting Resources
The cloud experts at Cloudways are 24/7 available for your guidance. Feel free to discuss and let the Cloudways Support know your requirements/queries so they could guide you accordingly.
Currently, the official WordPress supports MySQL and MariaDB only. Considering this, we at Cloudways left the choice to WordPress users by adding both into the platform. Converting MySQL to MariaDB is just a click away.
- Dynamic vs. Static
As described above, it is on the user end. At Cloudways, the servers come with pre-installed PHP7 that give a significant boost in performing dynamic content. But, make sure all the code is compatible with PHP7, create a WordPress staging environment of your live site, once the testing is done, push/pull the changes. And for static content, our ThunderStack formula can easily serve you well!
- Server Software
Cloudways servers are the combination of Apache, Nginx, Varnish, Memcached, PHP-FPM, Redis, and support for PHP 7 that all collectively work together in boosting the performance of a WordPress site.
TTFB on Cloudways Servers
Just for the testing purpose, I have launched a 1GB Linode server (Fremont) with all the default settings of a server, then installed Breeze to enabled minification and grouping. And then, run the test via Web Page Test. Here are the results.
You can see, the Time To First Byte (TTFB) is under 200 ms that fits guidelines by the Google.
When the same site is tested on Pingdom. Here is what I got!
Improving the overall performance and reduce server response time for a WordPress site can be achieved by following the above-mentioned practices. When you are confident enough with the Time To First Byte (TTFB) of your hosting provider, then you can follow tips to speed up a WordPress site.
Want to test TTFB of your existing WordPress site on Cloudways? Start with a free trial and migrate your WordPress site with just a few clicks. And don’t forget to share results in the comment section below.
Mustaasam is the WordPress Community Manager at Cloudways - A Managed WordPress Hosting Platform, where he actively works and loves sharing his knowledge with the WordPress Community. When he is not working, you can find him playing squash with his friends, or defending in Football, and listening to music. You can email him at email@example.com
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