Improving Search Rank by Optimizing your Time to First Byte
Back in August, Zoompf published newly uncovered research findings examining the effect of web performance on Google’s search rankings. Working with Matt Peters from Moz, we tested the performance of over 100,000 websites returned in the search results for 2000 different search queries. In that study, we found a clear correlation between a faster time to first byte (TTFB) and a higher search engine rank. While it could not be outright proven that decreasing TTFB directly caused an increasing search rank, there was enough of a correlation to at least warrant some further attention on the topic.
The TTFB metric captures how long it takes your browser to receive the first byte of a response from a web server when you request a particular website URL. In the graph captured below from our research results, you can see websites with a faster TTFB in general ranked more highly than websites with a slower one.
We found this to be true not only for general searches with one or two keywords, but also for “long tail” searches of 4 or 5 keywords. Clearly this data showed an interesting trend that we wanted to explore further. If you haven’t already checked out our prior article on Moz, we recommend you check it out now: How Website Speed Actually Impacts Search Ranking.
In this article, we continue exploring the concept of Time to First Byte (TTFB), providing an overview of what TTFB is and steps you can take to improve this metric and (hopefully) improve your search ranking.