WordPress is generally a fairly fast platform however when you introduce many third-party plugins, most of which were not developed with speed in mind. Your once lightning-fast WordPress site can suddenly suffer from page speed problems. Many elements contribute to slow page speeds but one of the most important elements is server response time.
What is server response time?
Server response time, also known as time to first byte (TTFB) is how long it takes for the server to respond from when you requested a page.
This is often misunderstood as always being a problem with the server itself which isn’t true, a plugin-heavy WordPress website with no caching enabled will almost certainly have a high server response time regardless if you are on a shared or dedicated server hosting.
However, it must be said, to a certain degree a terrible hosting provider will amplify the problem resulting in over 1,000ms of time to first byte which is not acceptable.
How do you reduce server response time?
To reduce server response time on your WordPress site, you will need a full-page caching plugin. The best plugin for the job is LiteSpeed Cache.
Without question, LiteSpeed is leagues above alternative caching plugins. However, to fully utilize the plugin’s capabilities you will need a LiteSpeed-enabled web hosting provider such as Koerge.
How does a caching plugin reduce server response time?
High server response time is due to the server hosting your WordPress application having to process hundreds of PHP files including all your plugins, make multiple requests to the MySQL database and generate the page you requested.
This process is resource-intensive and often results in a high time to first-byte time (TTFB). A full-page caching plugin works by caching the generated page and serving it at lightning-fast speeds due to the server not having to process any PHP, plugins, database queries, etc.
As with all caching plugins the 1st-page view is always slow, due to no-cache being available resulting in the server having to perform resource-intensive tasks to generate the requested page, however, the 2nd-page view and thereafter will be served directly from cache.
How fast can I get my server response time?
Time to first byte of under 100ms (0.1 seconds) is easily achievable with a plugin such as LiteSpeed Cache. However, a few elements will degrade that time.
- Most CDNs will, unfortunately, add latency resulting in a slightly higher TTFB. Unless you are using something like Cloudflare Argo, or full page caching on the CDN itself.
- Where you are located and where the web hosting server is located plays a crucial role on your final TTFB time. For example, if you are in London, United Kingdom, and the web hosting server is located in Australia. Time to first byte will certainly be much higher than normal, often exceeding 300ms due to physics. The speed of light has its limits.
- Poor latency internet connection. For example, if you are on a 3G network, the server itself may respond in 50ms however by the time that responds reaches your device it would appear as 250ms. The same test performed by a faster internet connection will result in a much faster TTFB of under 100ms.
If you wanted to know what sort of time to first-byte times you can get with Koerge WordPress hosting, feel free to test this page.
My website receives very low traffic, can I still benefit from caching?
The simple answer is yes, every website can benefit from a caching plugin however websites with low traffic need bespoke configurations made to the caching plugin.
Failing to do this will result in most of your pages being uncached due to the lack of traffic to warm the cache. If you suffer from this problem and are hosted with Koerge, get in touch with us. Our team of experts would be more than happy to set everything up for you.
What else can a caching plugin do?
Almost all caching plugins include basic and advanced features to improve your WordPress website’s overall page load times. Some of these features include:
- Optimize Images
And many more.
Can caching improve my server response time if I have a lot of plugins?
Yes, full-page caching can reduce your server response times to the same as a light, blank WordPress website. Once a page is cached, the amount of plugins installed becomes irrelevant (this can’t be said for full page load times).
How do I install LiteSpeed Cache?
LiteSpeed Cache can be installed by downloading and activating the plugin. More detailed information on how to install LiteSpeed Cache can be found here.
I have installed LiteSpeed Cache, how do I enable full page caching?
Full-page caching is enabled by default once you installed and activated the LiteSpeed Cache plugin. That said you can double-check it’s enabled by navigating to LiteSpeed then Cache as shown below.
From here you need to double-check that ‘Enable Cache’ is set to ‘On’ and you are good to go!
Please note you will need a LiteSpeed-enabled host to have access to all of LiteSpeeds features.