What is the Time to First Byte (TTFB) and how to improve it

Florian Bücklers
August 16, 2023
5 min read
Contact our team
Let's check your website speed.
Contact sales
Share blog post
Everyone benefits from speed.


In today's fast-paced digital landscape, where every second counts. The performance of your e-commerce website can make or break your online success. A seamless user experience is vital to drive conversions and boost revenue. One crucial metric that directly impacts user satisfaction is the Time to First Byte (TTFB). This is the time it takes for your customers' browsers to receive the first byte of data from your web server. In this guide, we'll explore what TTFB means for your e-commerce business, why it matters, and provide you with actionable tips and key performance indicators (KPIs) to optimize it and supercharge your online sales.

What is TTFB?

TTFB is a reflection of your customers' waiting experience. Simply put, it measures the time it takes for a user's browser to receive the first byte of data from your web server after they click on your website. It represents the initial server response time and sets the stage for your customer's journey on your e-commerce platform.

Why does TTFB matter to your business?

The TTFB might not ensure a quick loading time alone, but a bad TTFB is very easy to spot for the user and therefore makes your website feel slow.

  • Customer satisfaction and user experience: In the fast-paced world we live in, customers only accept very short waiting periods. A high TTFB can lead to frustration, cart abandonment, and a negative perception of your brand. Studies have shown that already one second page speed improvement can already lead to a bounce rate decrease by 9%. By reducing TTFB, you enhance the overall user experience and create happier, more satisfied customers.
  • Search engine rankings: A slow TTFB can lead to lower search engine rankings. Google is ranking pages based on the so-called “Page Experience”. One of the factors for Google that indicate page experience are the Core Web Vitals. The TTFB might not be part of the Core Web Vitals, but it influences the Largest Contentful Paint (LCP). The LCP measures the time a website need to load the most data intensive element on your website. If your website needs longer for the initial server request, you get a worse LCP.

Factors affecting TTFB

Understanding the factors that influence TTFB is key to improving it and providing a lightning-fast shopping experience. Here are some crucial factors to consider:

Server response time

Your server's response time is a crucial element in TTFB. Factors like server hardware, software configuration, server load, and database performance can impact how quickly your server generates a response. Optimize your server infrastructure to ensure efficient processing and lightning-fast responses.

Network latency

Network latency refers to the time it takes for data to travel from your server to your customers' browsers and back. Factors like geographical distance, network congestion, and the quality of the user's internet connection can contribute to network latency.

How to measure TTFB?

Measuring TTFB is crucial for tracking performance improvements and ensuring your optimizations are effective. Here are some KPIs and tools to help you measure TTFB accurately:

  • Descriptive statistics: It's not recommended to use the average TTFB as a measurement. Here, outliers can ruin the integrity of your analysis. It's better to focus on the median or percentiles. If you wish to visualize your data, you should use a histogram. This will show you the percentage of your users that experience a certain TTFB while visiting your website.
  • TTFB by page type: Analyze TTFB by different page types, such as product pages, category pages, and checkout pages. Identify specific areas for improvement and prioritize optimizations based on their impact.
  • Geographical TTFB: Measure TTFB for different geographical regions to ensure a consistent experience for your customers across the globe. Identify regions with higher TTFB and explore options to optimize their performance.

According to Google, you reached a good TTFB if over 75% of your users have a TTFB of under 800ms. But this does NOT equal a good user experience. If you start thinking about it, 800ms means that your website need almost one second until it can start loading content. Everything else that is needed to display the website happens afterward and takes extra time. So you should always aim for a TTFB far below 800ms.

If you look at different tools to measure the TTFB, you always have to keep in mind that there are different types of tools. Some inspect the TTFB based on Lab tests and some based on Real User Monitoring (RUM). Tools like Lighthouse and WebPageTest are great to retrieve results from Lab Data. Also, our Page Speed Analyzer provides great first insights based on lab data about the performance of your website. Google CrUX is a free to use RUM tool, but you have to be aware that it only looks at portions of your total RUM data. For example, it only takes data from Chrome users into account.

If you wish to learn more about the differences between CrUX and RUM Tools, this article is for you. Speed Kit also provides a RUM service including all the data from the users of your website additionally to our website acceleration solution.

Tips to improve TTFB

Here are actionable tips and strategies to optimize TTFB and deliver a lightning-fast shopping experience:

Reduce DNS lookup time

DNS lookups are an essential part of the page-loading process, as they translate the URLs people use into the IP addresses used by computers. Before servers can send back the first byte of data to a browser, they need to do this check. For this reason, optimizing the DNS lookup process helps you shave time off your TTFB.

Optimize server configuration

Ensure your server is properly configured for optimal performance. Fine-tune server settings, leverage caching mechanisms and implement advanced server technologies to minimize response times and improve TTFB. This also includes protocol optimization. Examples for this would be the usage of HTTP3 and IPv6 protocols, TLS stack with correct certificates and active OCSP stapling. Those are good methods to improve web performance.

Implement browser and server-side caching

Leverage browser caching and server-side caching to store and reuse previously requested resources like CSS, JavaScript and Fonts. By enabling caching, you reduce the load on your server and improve TTFB for subsequent visits. If you use a solution like Speed Kit, even dynamic caching is enabled, so you can reduce your TTFB for your dynamic HTML as well.

Monitor third-party scripts and integrations

Third-party scripts and integrations can significantly impact TTFB. Regularly audit and monitor the performance of these scripts, ensuring they don't introduce unnecessary delays and optimize them for speed. With a solution like Speed Kit, you get the opportunity to cache those resources as well and therefore optimize your loading time.

Continuous performance monitoring, testing, and optimization

Performance optimization is an ongoing process. Regularly test, monitor and analyze your website's performance with the tools mentioned above. Identify bottlenecks, and make iterative improvements. Keep a close eye on TTFB and other performance metrics to ensure you consistently deliver a lightning-fast website experience.


By optimizing TTFB and providing a lightning-fast website experience, you create a better user experience for your customers, build trust, and lower your bounce rates. Embrace the challenge, optimize your TTFB, and watch as your traffic dramatically increases.


Book a free website speed check

We analyze your website speed, identify web vitals issues, and compare your competitors.

Book free speed check
iPhone 15 Device CheckLaser Scanner