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How-to 6 min read October 2, 2019

How to check server response time and reduce it

You can find out the server response time using the webmaster panels or third-party tools. If after a request to the server the page is generating for longer than 200 ms, use different methods to reduce this indicator.

Checking the server response time

After a request from the browser, the server accesses the database, after which page generation begins. The more scripts and styles are used, the longer the formation of expected content will take place. Server response time is a period from the browser request to the loading of the first byte of the page on the screen. Do not confuse this concept with the download speed of the page itself.

To find out the server response time, refer to webmaster panels. The HTTP status code should be 200 OK, and the server response time should be no more than 200 ms. Ideally, it is recommended to make this indicator another 4 times less. The sooner the requested page is generated, the better it is ranked in the search results. This direct dependence of the search engine optimization on the server response speed was found in the study by MOZ specialists.
Linking Response Speed and SEO Promotion
To determine the indicator in Google Analytics, go to the "Behavior" section:
Average server response time in Google Analytics
Website download speed indicators and recommendations for their improvement are provided by PageSpeed Insights:
Check PageSpeed Insights site loading speed
In the report, you can see the speed indicators for the mobile and desktop versions.

Another method of recognizing the slowness of the server response is using third-party tools. For instance, Netpeak Spider. This parameter is also included in the website SEO audit in Serpstat:
Serpstat Site Audit Download Speed

How to reduce server response time

Even if this value is within the acceptable range, it is always recommended to reduce it even more. Several ways contribute to this:
1
Database checking. Each request to the server addresses the website database. In the hosting panel of a website, sort the tables by size and determine which of them weigh most:
Size of tables in a database
Back up the database before cleaning the tables. Open the tables one at a time to clear unnecessary rows from them. For example, old plugin caches, extra options, junk files. In WordPress, this task can be assigned to individual plugins, for example, WP-Optimize. But, as practice shows, they don't always completely cope with database cleanup.
2
Caching pages. The next time you access the server, the page will not be recreated using a series of requests. In response, the browser will be offered its previously saved copy, which will save a lot of time. In WordPress, you can use the Hyper Cache plugin for this purpose.
3
Server performance. To get the answer as soon as possible, it is recommended to use a dedicated IP or VPS (Virtual Private Server or dedicated server). Free hosting or server with low performance takes much more time to provide a response.
4
Caching scripts. These are the so-called PHP accelerators that back up commands. As a result, the next request will use a ready-made binary code, rather than a newly generated one. Here are some examples of PHP accelerators: eAccelerator, XCache, PhpExpress, OpCache.
5
Using third-party services. Sometimes, to obtain data, the internal server refers to a third-party uncontrolled source, which takes part in constructing the response. The response from it can go a long time or even change, as a result, the response of the server on your website will slow down. Tip: Only use internal resource requests.
Checking the duration of the server response is the first step to creating a website with quickly loading relevant pages. Test this indicator not only on the main page but also in sections, product cards, and categories. After achieving the desired result, proceed to the next step which is reducing the page loading speed.

Conclusion

Testing the server response time is the primary measure for the search engine optimization of the site. For successful ranking, this indicator on each page cannot exceed 200 ms. It is optimal for it to be 3-4 times smaller. To find out the server response, use the webmaster panels or third-party resources. Do the following to reduce this indicator:

  • clean the database of trash and unnecessary options;
  • create caches of pages and binary codes of the PHP connections;
  • go to a high-performance server;
  • delete calls to third-party resources;
  • reduce the number of server requests.

To reduce server response time in WordPress, use caching, data cleaning, and server request plugins.
This article is a part of Serpstat's "Site Audit" tool
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