Check TTFB (Time To First Byte)

Learn how much time the web server takes to respond to the first byte

About TTFB

The Time to First Byte (TTFB) indicates how quickly a web server responds to requests (be it browser-based or APIs). It’s measured as the time taken from the moment the user submits the Web request, to the moment when the first byte of response is received from the server.

Please note that in this, it’s different from page load time, which measures how long it takes for a page to fully load once it has started rendering. You’ll see the poor TTFB phenomenon in many sites: they’re very fast once the page starts rendering, but there seems to be an initial hiccup or “warmup time” to overcome.

Why you should care?

You should care about TTFB since it’s a key metric considered by search engines, and a high TTFB can lead to lower rankings even if you have stellar content.

Technically, it boosts up essential user-centric parameters like:

  • First contentful paint (FCP)
  • Largest contentful paint (LCP)
  • First input delay (FID)
  • Cumulative layout shift (CLS)
  • Total blocking time (TBT)
  • Time to Interactive (TTI)

Reasons for Unoptimized TTFB

The Time to First Byte is actually a reflection of how the website is set up and how fast the underlying hardware is. There can be a number of reasons for high TTFB, and these need to be addressed to improve the TTFB performance:

  • Slow DNS resolution
  • Slow HTTPS redirection or certificate verification
  • Slow database connection (for dynamic sites like WordPress)
  • Poor disk performance (Disk I/O) of the server
  • Poor network connection to the server
  • Insufficient system resources (CPU and RAM) on the server

How to Improve TTFB?

There are many things you can do like below.

Web-Hosting

This is where you shouldn’t prioritize cheap. An economical web hosting service may suffice for personal projects. But, businesses should stick to competitive hosting providers right from the start.

Some of the best hosting platforms are:

Content Delivery Network

A server located oceans apart increases network latency killing user experience. A CDN performs much like global servers for a worldwide audience. This ensures fast-loading websites from every corner of the world.

Some top picks:

Caching

Using caching can increase your chances of decreasing TTFB. No cache can increase your overall loading times, including TTFB, as this is the first step to loading any website. Again, good web-hosting providers have powerful in-built caching tools to cut short loading times. If you are using WordPress, you may consider using WP Rocket, one of the powerful caching plugins.

Custom DNS

All hosting plans come with basic DNS servers. Some of which render requests slowly, increasing DNS lookup times. This ultimately pushes the TTFB, resulting in delays in website loading. Some premium hosts like Kinsta already provide premium DNS to their subscribers. However, anyone can switch to a 3rd-party DNS server like Google Cloud DNS, Cloudflare DNS, etc.

Minimize Page Redirects

This adds in the HTTP requests made by the web browser. The extra to-and-fro increases server response time, increasing the TTFB, which ends up frustrating the end-users.

Use the latest HTTP

Make sure your web hosting provider is using the up-to-date version of HTTP like HTTP/3 and HTTP/2. This will help to load the content in parallel over single TCP connection.

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