What does the error REDUCE SERVER RESPONSE TIME mean in the Google PageSpeed report?

If you are trying to speed up your site and you are using the Google PageSpeed report to identify the areas you can improve, you may see the error “Reduce Server Response Time”. The server response time is the amount of time it takes the server (that is your hosting) to respond to the first request for your website files from a browser. This is also known as Time To First Byte (TTFB).

What does server response time depend on?

The server response time depends on two things.

  1. The speed which a request for your website files travels from someone’s computer to the server where your files are stored. This speed depends on distances and quality of the infrastructure the message must travel through on its way to your server. Think of a car on a long road with lots of traffic lights. Some days all the traffic lights are green, other days, they may be red. The request can experience delays at various points on its journey.
  2. The speed at which your server processes the request and serve the response. This speed depends on the quality of your website hosting package. If you are on a really cheap, shared hosting then your server response time will be reduced. This is because basically, you get what you pay for and you are sharing services so the more traffic hitting the server, the slower your response time will be.

What should the server response time be?

Google suggests a server response time of 200mS. https://developers.google.com/speed/docs/insights/Server

How can you reduce server response time?

To reduce server response time you need to decrease the time it takes a request to travel from a PC to the server. This is done by using a CDN. CloudFlare offers a free CDN that could be worth checking out.

Next, you need to decrease the time it takes for your server to respond to the request. To do this you will need to have access to some of your server settings or be prepared to pay for better hosting. Some of the areas you can look at are;

  • Database optimisations. (Sometimes this can be achieved using a WordPress plugin).
  • Keeping the server software updated.
  • Use a dedicated IP address as soon as you can afford it.

You should always speak with your hosting provider if your speed issues are pointing towards your server. They are in the best place to advise you on your way forward on how they can help you reduce server response time.

How I have reduced my server response time

I have a dedicated IP address with SIteGround, with an SSL cert and my response time was 0.59 seconds according to the Google PageSpeed tool.

Reduce server response time

My response time was 626mS according to Pingdom tools. I scrolled to the bottom of the report to find the waterfall report.

Server repsonse time pingdom

From my hosting CPanel, I updated my PHP version to the latest and I got an amazing boost in response time. Pingdom was reporting 147mS

Server Response TIme after php update pingdom

Google had removed the error and placed a new notification in the report.

Server response time updated php code google

I was really happy with that result. Now, what could I fix next? Stay tuned…

P.S if you would like your speed increased get in touch so I can get you results like this too.

 

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