The page speed of your website matters a lot when it comes to providing a good user experience, ranking well in search engines, and attracting more visitors that’ll convert. Page speed is not something you can compromise on. You especially shouldn’t compromise on it since the Google Page Experience update hits the search algorithm in 2021.
So, if page speed wasn’t already a major ranking factor, it sure is about to become one. You need to be ready for the change before it hits you, that’s called adapting and overcoming.
So, to prepare yourself and your business for this change, you need to go deeper than front-end speed optimization. Server-side optimization coupled with front-end optimization can give you amazing results that stand the test of time.
Confused? In this article, we’ll guide you through the importance of server-side optimization while speeding up your website.
Why think about server-side optimization?
The fact of the matter is that your website resides on a server. A server delivers your site to your visitors and end-users. The health and performance of your server ultimately determine the real-time performance of your website.
Of course, you can always upgrade to a server with more storage and higher processing power. But, there is a lot more you can before choosing to upgrade your hosting.
Your server is like the rent your pay for keeping your website accessible all over the world wide web. Now, we bet that you use all the rooms and sections of your house optimally, invest in regular maintenance/upkeep, and do not let random strangers squat on your property. Right?
Why treat your website hosting server any differently. Your server needs to be optimized to ensure that you’re using it to the best of its abilities. You have to ensure that other sites are not hotlinking to your resources and using up your bandwidth. The server must deliver the content quickly to keep the time-to-first-byte (TTFB) at a minimum.
So, if you think about speeding up your website and only think about front-end optimization, you’re only seeing half the picture. Server-side optimization is the other half and it can make all the difference in the real-time page speed of your website.
The Importance of Server-side Optimization for speeding up websites
We cannot stress enough on the importance of server-side optimization. Just because no one can see it, doesn’t mean that it’s fine to ignore it!
Let’s find out why server-side optimization is important.
The results of your front-end optimization depend on your server!
It’s true, the results that you get after optimizing the front-end of your website depend on the health and performance of your server. If your server-side is poorly optimized and bloated with irrelevant resources, no amount of front-end optimization will speed up your website.
If your server is in the best shape that it can be, you’ll find that just a few front-end optimizations will show noticeable improvements in page speed.
This is why, at W3SpeedUp, we recommend all our clients to go for server-side optimization along with the front-end optimization if they want everything working perfectly.
Time to first byte, or TTFB, is the amount of time a browser has to wait before getting its first byte of data from the server. Google recommends a TTFB of less than 200 ms.
When a user visits your website, their browser sends an HTTP request to the server that hosts the website. There are three steps that need to take place between that initial request and the first byte of data:
- DNS lookup
- Server processing
You can see how long this process takes for your site using either Chrome’s Developer Tools or a third-party tool like WebPageTest. If you use WebPageTest, you can find TTFB here:
To improve the TTFB you’ll have to configure your server and optimize it to perform better. Dynamic Content Creation can also affect the TTFB so that will have to be taken care of with caching.
Hotlinking is easy to understand. Imagine you find an image on the internet somewhere and use the URL of the image directly on your site. This image although displayed on your website but will actually be served from the original location. This is convenient for the site that’s hotlinking but it’s actually theft as it is using the hotlinked site’s resources.
You can enable hotlink protection in your Apache or NGINX server to prevent other sites from hotlinking your content. Staying away from server-side optimization might mean that your server runs the risk of being used by unknown third-parties by hotlinking.
It keeps your website performing optimally for a long time!
There’s some possibility that your website might speed up a lot with just a few front-end performance optimizations. You might be happy to get good results for minimum efforts. But, you must not forget, that an un-optimized server can get bloated very quickly and slow down your website again, shortly after.
An optimized server ensures that the front-end optimization stands the test of time and your website keeps performing great for a long time. With a server that isn’t optimized, no amount of front-end optimization will deliver long-lasting results. Moreover, you’ll have to conduct front-end optimization more often than you should.
We, at W3SpeedUp, highly recommend that you focus on server-side optimization also while working on improving your site’s page speed. Making sure that you optimize your website as well as the server will ensure that you leave to pages unturned in speeding up your website. It’s best to put one good effort to get the job done instead of a few slapdash efforts that get half the job done.
You must want to put your best foot forwards for all your visitors. So, don’t take server-side performance lightly and work on improving that!
Got any questions? Let us know in the comments below. You can also write to us for a quick resolution to all your queries.