TTFB / new Core Web Vitals metric

I’d like to know ask what strategies are recommended for improving TTFB. The ones I know about are:

  • good hosting
  • minimal overhead (reduce plugins / database clutter)
  • page caching dynamic content

Of these, only the last one is something that can be done through Cloudflare. But are there any other Cloudflare settings or add-on services that can help with TTFB?

I know Cloudlfare has pushed back against the idea that TTFB matters. And they’ve made a convincing case not to worry about it (in 2012).

But in the past few days, Google has added TTFB as an experimental metric in their main PageSpeed Insights reports panel. It’s not currently a ranking factor (at least, not as far as we know) but its promotion points to the strong possibility that it could become a ranking factor, probably sooner rather than later. Google doesn’t tend to just add these things on a whim.

And yes, I’m well aware of all the other things that are more or similarly important (good content, optimized images, links, and so on). But I’ve also seen first-hand the dip and then bounce back with poor then good Core Web Vitals, I’ve seen the real practical difference that meeting Google’s CWV expectations makes.

All other Core Web Vitals metrics for my site are good, and I’ve worked hard to make them that way. TTFB is now my weakest, and if there are Cloudflare settings or features that I can make better use of, it makes sense to use them.

Argo Smart Routing could be something that you can try.

If you are running a WordPress, try APO too.

1 Like

Thanks for the tips.

Forgot to mention: I already have Argo active. And APO. But still failing Google’s TTFB threshold.

Are you willing to share your domain?

Sure. Here’s an example URL:
[since deleted]

I see a TTFB of 29ms which is more then excellent (after multiple reloads…):

Google PageSpeed Insights measures 70ms. Still nothing to complain about:

I guess in this case this is more a problem of Cloudflares consistency, not it’s “potential performance” since, even if Cloudflare can be fast it in a lot of cases is not. These cases are happening due to the fact, that Cloudflare is a reverseProxy CDN and the cases are:

  • Every time TTL gets reached
  • Every time you update content
  • Every time a URL gets called for the first time
  • Every time Cloudflare purges cache for other reasons, since often cache gets purges before the TTL is getting reached.

This applies for every URL on every POP Cloudflare does have. Which specially, with not too many visitors will influence the average measured real world performance by a lot. That’s why Field Data - therefore “real life data”, also called “Core Web Vitals” - measured by Google, are very different from the labor data measured in a synthetic benchmark. The discrepancy this creates, can be seen here:

Mobile:

Desktop:

Both times the TTFB is way higher, actually unacceptable higher, than the currently synthetically measured TTFB from Google. So people do have a different experience on your site, than what a synthetic benchmark would make it look like.

I am sorry, but with Cloudflare there are just other ways to conceal the real problem, none of them will actually forevery and indefinitely solve it. APO actually already does make a good job in improving your site, but fails on consistent performance as it seems.

THB your Core Web Vitals and your average GPSI value are btw outstanding and really impressive for a WordPress-based page. Even on mobile you score 100/100 which for a lot is the ultimate goal:


But like mentioned above these are synthetic values, not real world ones and therefore they do not reflect the real world experience on your site.

I am sorry to say, but there apparently is nothing further Cloudflare can do for you, to improve the real world experience. Specially if you already have enabled APO and Argo.

Thank you. I appreciate the time you’ve spent with such a detailed response.

At least it’s good to know I’m not leaving a simple solution on the table.

Thanks again.