How To Improve Your Total Blocking Time on WordPress In 2024April 7, 2023 | By David Selden-Treiman | Filed in: Core Web Vitals.
The TL-DR on Total Blocking Time
Total Blocking Time (TBT) is a web performance metric that measures the time during which the main thread is blocked, preventing user interactions. You can improve your WordPress site’s Total Blocking Time by optimizing your server, caching, reducing plugin bloat, compressing assets, and using a CDN, among other methods.
- Introduction: Improving Your Total Blocking Time on WordPress
- Analyzing TBT in WordPress: How to Measure and Interpret Your Metrics
- Optimizing WordPress Themes and Plugins: Making the Right Choices for Better Performance
- Improving Server Performance: Boosting Your WordPress Site from the Ground Up
- Optimizing Front-End Assets: Streamlining Your Site for a Better User Experience
- Leveraging a Content Delivery Network (CDN): Speeding Up Your WordPress Site Worldwide
- Monitoring and Maintaining Your Site’s TBT: Ensuring Ongoing Performance Improvements
- Seeking Expert Help: When to Consult a Professional for TBT Optimization
- Exploring Additional Optimization Techniques: Going the Extra Mile for Stellar TBT Performance
- Evaluating the Impact of TBT Optimization: Understanding the Benefits for Your WordPress Site
Introduction: Improving Your Total Blocking Time on WordPress
Hey there! You probably know that having a fast-loading website is crucial in today’s digital world. One important performance metric that you should be paying attention to is the Total Blocking Time (TBT). TBT is a measure of how long your website takes to become fully responsive to user input, like clicks or scrolling. When a website has a high TBT, users might experience slow and unresponsive pages, leading to a poor user experience.
WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems out there, powering over 40% of the web. While it’s user-friendly and versatile, it’s not always the most optimized for speed. However, there are several ways to improve your TBT on a WordPress site to ensure your users have a smooth experience.
For example, imagine you run an e-commerce store selling handmade crafts. If your website takes too long to load and respond to user interactions, potential customers might leave without making a purchase. Improving TBT can significantly boost user experience, and in turn, increase conversions and sales.
By focusing on improving your WordPress website’s TBT, you’ll not only enhance the experience for your users but also boost your search engine rankings. Search engines like Google use performance metrics, including TBT, to determine the quality of a website. A better-performing website will have a higher chance of ranking well in search results.
In this guide, we’ll dive into various strategies to help you optimize your WordPress site’s TBT, from choosing the right themes and plugins to optimizing server performance and leveraging Content Delivery Networks (CDNs). Let’s get started on enhancing your website’s performance and making your users’ experience a more enjoyable one!
Analyzing TBT in WordPress: How to Measure and Interpret Your Metrics
Before you can start improving your WordPress site’s TBT, you need to know where you stand. It’s essential to use the right tools to measure and analyze your website’s performance, so you can identify areas that need improvement. Let’s go through some popular tools you can use and how to interpret the TBT metrics they provide.
Google PageSpeed Insights
Lighthouse is an open-source tool developed by Google for auditing website performance, including TBT. You can use it as a Chrome extension or as a standalone tool. It provides a comprehensive report, outlining specific issues impacting your TBT and offering actionable recommendations. For instance, if you run a blog, Lighthouse may suggest removing unnecessary third-party scripts or implementing lazy-loading for images to improve your TBT.
This is another powerful tool for analyzing website performance. It offers a wide range of testing options, including to measure TBT, and provides in-depth results. You can run tests from multiple locations and devices, which helps you understand how your site performs for users worldwide. For example, if your travel agency website has a high TBT, WebPageTest might pinpoint slow server response times or large CSS files as culprits.
When looking at TBT metrics, you’ll usually see scores categorized as good, moderate, or poor. A good TBT is typically below 300 milliseconds, moderate ranges from 300 to 600 milliseconds, and anything above 600 milliseconds is considered poor. Keep in mind that these are general guidelines, and your specific website’s performance goals may vary depending on your target audience and industry.
Understanding your website’s TBT and how it affects user interaction is vital in creating a seamless experience. By using these tools and regularly monitoring your TBT, you’ll be well on your way to optimizing your WordPress site for both users and search engines.
Optimizing WordPress Themes and Plugins: Making the Right Choices for Better Performance
Your WordPress site’s theme and plugins play a significant role in its TBT. Choosing the right theme and plugins can make a world of difference in your website’s performance. Let’s explore how to make smart choices when it comes to themes and plugins, so you can minimize your TBT and offer a smooth experience to your users.
Choosing Lightweight and Well-Optimized Themes
The theme you use can either speed up or slow down your website. Look for lightweight and well-optimized themes that are built with performance in mind. These themes typically have clean, efficient code and minimal bloat. For example, Astra, GeneratePress, and Neve are popular themes known for their speed and optimization. Remember, a beautiful theme that loads slowly is not worth the trade-off when it comes to user experience and search engine rankings.
Assessing Plugin Performance
Plugins are incredibly useful, but some can also negatively impact your TBT. Be selective when choosing plugins and only install those that are essential to your site’s functionality. To evaluate a plugin’s performance, you can check reviews and ratings, look for recent updates, and do some research on its impact on TBT. For instance, a contact form plugin may seem lightweight, but if it loads many unnecessary scripts, it can slow down your site. A good alternative would be to choose a more performance-optimized contact form plugin.
Regularly Updating Themes and Plugins
Keeping your themes and plugins up to date is crucial for maintaining a low TBT. Updates often include performance improvements, bug fixes, and security patches. Make a habit of checking for updates and installing them promptly. Outdated software can lead to slow load times and even leave your site vulnerable to security threats. For example, if your website uses a slider plugin with a known TBT issue, the developer might release an update that addresses this issue, and updating the plugin would help improve your site’s TBT.
When optimizing your WordPress site, always keep performance in mind, especially when it comes to themes and plugins. By choosing lightweight themes, carefully selecting high-performance plugins, and keeping everything updated, you’ll be well on your way to improving your site’s TBT and providing a more enjoyable user experience.
Improving Server Performance: Boosting Your WordPress Site from the Ground Up
Your server plays a crucial role in determining your website’s TBT, and optimizing it can lead to significant performance improvements. In this section, we’ll discuss ways to enhance your server performance, from selecting the right hosting provider to implementing caching and upgrading your PHP version.
Choosing a High-Performance Hosting Provider
Your hosting provider can make or break your site’s performance. When looking for a hosting plan, consider the different types available, such as shared, VPS, and dedicated hosting. Shared hosting is usually the most affordable, but it may not offer the best performance since you share resources with other websites. VPS and dedicated hosting provide better performance, but at a higher cost.
Implementing Server-Level Caching
Caching is a technique used to store and deliver content more efficiently, reducing the load on your server and improving your TBT. There are several types of caching you can implement:
Saves a static version of your webpages, which can be served to users more quickly than dynamically generated content. Many caching plugins, like WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache, offer page caching features.
Accelerates PHP execution by caching compiled PHP scripts. Opcode caching is usually enabled by default in PHP 8.x, using the OPcache extension.
Upgrading to PHP 8.x or Higher
PHP is the programming language that powers WordPress, and upgrading to a newer version can significantly improve your site’s performance. PHP 8.x offers faster execution and lower memory usage compared to earlier versions. Before upgrading, ensure that your WordPress installation, themes, and plugins are compatible with the latest PHP version.
By focusing on server performance, you’ll set a strong foundation for your WordPress site’s TBT. Choosing a high-performance hosting provider, implementing server-level caching, and upgrading your PHP version are just some of the ways to optimize your server and improve your site’s TBT, resulting in a faster and more responsive website for your users.
Optimizing Front-End Assets: Streamlining Your Site for a Better User Experience
Minifying and Combining Text Files
Implementing Lazy-Loading for Images and Videos
Lazy-loading is a technique that loads images and videos only when they’re about to enter the user’s viewport. This can significantly reduce the initial loading time of your pages, as only the visible content needs to be loaded. There are several plugins available to help you implement lazy-loading, like a3 Lazy Load and Smush. For instance, if your photography portfolio has a gallery with many high-resolution images, lazy-loading will ensure that only the images visible on the screen are loaded, improving your TBT.
Using Responsive Images
Responsive images adapt their size and resolution based on the user’s device and screen size. This ensures that users only load the necessary image size, reducing bandwidth usage and improving TBT. WordPress has built-in support for responsive images using the “srcset” and “sizes” attributes. Additionally, plugins like WP Retina 2x and ShortPixel Adaptive Images can help you further optimize your images. For example, a visitor browsing your site on a smartphone will load a smaller image than someone using a desktop computer, saving both loading time and data usage.
By optimizing your front-end assets, you can significantly improve your site’s TBT and overall performance. Minifying and combining text files, implementing lazy-loading, and using responsive images are just a few of the strategies that can help you create a more enjoyable and seamless experience for your users.
Leveraging a Content Delivery Network (CDN): Speeding Up Your WordPress Site Worldwide
A Content Delivery Network (CDN) can greatly improve your website’s performance and TBT by distributing your content across multiple servers around the world. When a user visits your site, the content is delivered from the server closest to them, reducing the time it takes for data to travel. In this section, we’ll discuss the benefits of using a CDN, how to choose a provider, and how to configure CDN settings for your WordPress site.
What Are The Benefits of a CDN?
CDNs offer several advantages, including faster content delivery and decreased server load. By distributing your content globally, users experience faster load times, regardless of their location. Additionally, since the CDN handles content delivery, your server can focus on processing requests more efficiently, further improving your TBT.
How do I Choose a CDN Provider
There are numerous CDN providers to choose from, each offering different features and pricing plans. Factors to consider when selecting a CDN include the number of server locations, ease of integration with WordPress, and your budget. Some popular CDN providers known for their performance and reliability are Cloudflare, Fastly, and Amazon CloudFront.
Configuring CDN Settings for WordPress
Integrating a CDN with your WordPress site is typically straightforward. Many caching plugins, like WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache, offer built-in CDN support, making it easy to set up and configure. You’ll need to follow the specific instructions provided by your chosen CDN provider to ensure proper integration. Additionally, some CDN providers offer WordPress-specific plugins, like Cloudflare’s WordPress plugin, which can help you manage and configure CDN settings directly from your WordPress dashboard.
By leveraging a CDN, you can significantly improve your WordPress site’s TBT and offer a faster, more enjoyable experience to your users worldwide. Selecting the right CDN provider and configuring it correctly with your WordPress site will ensure that your content is delivered quickly and efficiently, no matter where your users are located.
Monitoring and Maintaining Your Site’s TBT: Ensuring Ongoing Performance Improvements
Improving your WordPress site’s TBT is not a one-time task. It’s essential to regularly monitor and maintain your site to ensure that it continues to perform well and provide an enjoyable experience for your users. In this section, we’ll discuss the importance of ongoing monitoring, the tools you can use, and how to make adjustments based on your findings.
The Importance of Regular Monitoring
Websites evolve over time, with new content, features, and updates. These changes can impact your site’s TBT, so it’s crucial to keep an eye on your performance metrics. Regular monitoring allows you to catch and fix issues early, ensuring that your users have a consistently smooth experience.
Utilizing Performance Monitoring Tools
As mentioned earlier, tools like Google PageSpeed Insights, Lighthouse, and WebPageTest can help you analyze your site’s TBT. Make it a habit to run these tests periodically to gauge your site’s performance. You can also set up performance monitoring services like GTmetrix or Pingdom, which provide ongoing monitoring, alerting you to potential issues in real-time.
Making Adjustments Based on Findings
Once you have your performance data, it’s essential to act on the insights provided. For example, if you notice that your TBT has increased after installing a new plugin, consider finding a more performance-optimized alternative or removing it if it’s not essential to your site’s functionality. Similarly, if your tests reveal that your images are not properly optimized, you might want to re-evaluate your image optimization strategies or implement a more effective lazy-loading solution.
Remember that improving your site’s TBT is an ongoing process. By regularly monitoring your site’s performance and making necessary adjustments, you’ll ensure that your WordPress site remains fast, responsive, and user-friendly. This not only benefits your users but also helps improve your search engine rankings, making it a win-win situation for everyone involved.
Seeking Expert Help: When to Consult a Professional for TBT Optimization
While many TBT optimization tasks can be accomplished on your own, there may be times when it’s beneficial to consult a professional. WordPress experts and website speed optimization specialists can help identify complex issues and implement advanced solutions to improve your site’s TBT. In this section, we’ll discuss when to consider seeking expert help and what to expect from a professional service.
When to Seek Expert Help
If you’ve tried various optimization techniques and still struggle with a high TBT, it might be time to consult a professional. A specialist can provide a thorough analysis of your site’s performance, identify bottlenecks, and implement advanced solutions that may be beyond your expertise. Some examples of scenarios where expert help could be beneficial include:
- Troubleshooting complex server issues affecting your TBT.
- Optimizing your site’s database for improved performance.
- Implementing custom code or configuration changes to address specific TBT issues.
What to Expect from a Professional Service
When you hire a professional to optimize your site’s TBT, you can expect them to perform a comprehensive performance audit and provide tailored recommendations for improvement. They may also help implement these changes, monitor the impact on your TBT, and provide ongoing support. For example, a specialist might recommend implementing a custom caching solution, fine-tuning your server settings, or optimizing your site’s database structure to improve TBT.
Finding a Reliable Professional
To find a reputable expert, you can start by asking for recommendations from friends or colleagues who have experience with WordPress optimization. Additionally, you can search for professionals on platforms like Upwork or Freelancer, where you can review professionals’ portfolios, client feedback, and ratings. Always take the time to vet potential professionals, ensuring that they have the skills and experience necessary to optimize your site’s TBT effectively.
At Potent Pages, we specialize in the more technical aspects of website optimization, and would be happy to help if you need any assistance.
In conclusion, while many TBT optimization techniques can be implemented on your own, there may be situations where seeking expert help is the best course of action. By consulting a professional, you can ensure that your WordPress site is thoroughly optimized, providing the best possible experience for your users and improving your search engine rankings.
Exploring Additional Optimization Techniques: Going the Extra Mile for Stellar TBT Performance
There are many ways to optimize your WordPress site’s TBT beyond the core strategies discussed earlier. By exploring additional optimization techniques, you can further enhance your site’s performance and user experience. In this section, we’ll cover some of these extra strategies that can help you take your TBT optimization to the next level.
Optimizing Database Performance
Your WordPress site’s database stores essential information, like posts, pages, and comments. As your site grows, the database can become cluttered with unnecessary data, slowing down your site and impacting your TBT. To optimize your database performance, consider using a plugin like WP-Optimize or WP-Sweep, which can clean up your database by removing unused data, like old revisions, spam comments, and expired transients.
Prefetching DNS Requests
Prefetching is a technique that anticipates the DNS resolution of third-party resources, like fonts or scripts from external sources, speeding up their load time. By adding prefetch tags to your site’s header, you can tell the browser to resolve the DNS of external resources in advance, reducing the time it takes to load them.
For example, if your site uses Google Fonts, you can add a prefetch tag for fonts.googleapis.com to speed up font loading.
Utilizing Browser Caching
By exploring these additional optimization techniques, you can further improve your WordPress site’s TBT and overall performance. Optimizing your database, prefetching DNS requests, and utilizing browser caching are just a few examples of the advanced strategies you can employ to ensure your site is running at its best and providing an exceptional user experience.
Evaluating the Impact of TBT Optimization: Understanding the Benefits for Your WordPress Site
After implementing various TBT optimization strategies, it’s essential to evaluate the impact on your site’s performance and user experience. Understanding the benefits of these improvements will help you prioritize future optimization efforts and ensure that your site remains fast and user-friendly. In this section, we’ll discuss some key performance indicators to track and how to assess the impact of your optimization efforts.
Monitoring Key Performance Indicators
While TBT is an important metric to track, it’s also essential to monitor other key performance indicators (KPIs) related to your site’s performance, such as First Contentful Paint (FCP), Time to Interactive (TTI), and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). By monitoring these KPIs, you can gain a more comprehensive understanding of your site’s performance and how it affects user experience. Tools like Google PageSpeed Insights and Lighthouse can help you monitor these metrics.
Analyzing User Behavior and Engagement
Another way to evaluate the impact of TBT optimization is by analyzing user behavior and engagement on your site. If your site’s performance has improved, you might see lower bounce rates, longer session durations, and higher conversion rates. You can use tools like Google Analytics, Hotjar, or Crazy Egg to track and analyze user behavior and engagement.
Assessing SEO Performance
Optimizing your site’s TBT can also have a positive impact on your search engine rankings, as page speed is a known ranking factor. By monitoring your site’s organic traffic and keyword rankings, you can assess the impact of TBT optimization on your SEO performance. Tools like Google Search Console, SEMrush, and Ahrefs can help you track your site’s SEO performance.
For example, after implementing TBT optimization strategies, you might notice that your site’s FCP has improved, resulting in a more visually appealing experience for users. This could lead to a decrease in bounce rates, as users are more likely to stay on your site and explore your content. Additionally, your improved site speed might result in higher search engine rankings, driving more organic traffic to your site.
By evaluating the impact of TBT optimization, you can better understand the benefits for your WordPress site and prioritize future performance improvements. Monitoring key performance indicators, analyzing user behavior, and assessing SEO performance will help you gauge the success of your optimization efforts, ensuring that your site remains fast, user-friendly, and well-ranked in search engine results.
In conclusion, improving your Total Blocking Time (TBT) is a crucial aspect of optimizing your WordPress site’s performance, leading to better user experience and potentially higher search engine rankings. By following the strategies we’ve discussed, such as optimizing your server, caching, reducing plugin bloat, optimizing front-end assets, leveraging a CDN, and monitoring your site’s performance, you can ensure that your site remains fast and responsive.
Remember that optimizing TBT is an ongoing process, requiring regular monitoring, maintenance, and adjustments based on new insights and developments. Make use of tools like Google PageSpeed Insights, Lighthouse, and Google Analytics to track your site’s performance and make data-driven decisions to further improve your site’s TBT.
If you ever feel overwhelmed or need expert guidance, don’t hesitate to seek help from professionals who specialize in WordPress performance optimization. They can provide valuable insights and implement advanced solutions to help your site perform at its best.
Ultimately, by dedicating time and effort to optimizing your site’s TBT, you’ll create a more enjoyable experience for your users and improve your website’s overall performance. This not only benefits your audience but can also give you a competitive edge in search engine rankings, making it a win-win situation for everyone involved. So, go ahead and start optimizing your WordPress site’s TBT today, and watch your website thrive!
David Selden-Treiman is Director of Operations and a project manager at Potent Pages. He specializes in custom web crawler development, website optimization, server management, web application development, and custom programming. Working at Potent Pages since 2012 and programming since 2003, David has extensive expertise solving problems using programming for dozens of clients. He also has extensive experience managing and optimizing servers, managing dozens of servers for both Potent Pages and other clients.