Commentary

Server Response Time Is Everything

In early 2018, Facebook made a big announcement regarding its ever-changing algorithm. This time, it was a shift to prioritize content from family and friends instead of publishers. Facebook wants fast, mobile experiences that will keep its users happy and coming back to the platform. A core measurement to deduce a site's speed is server response time, the amount of time it takes a server to respond to a browser request. It's something that will make or break your user experience, and it's the crux of building organic loyalty.

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The importance of user experience has moved up the ranks in digital publishing over the last several years, and it's something strategists have been tracking for just as long. With the rise of ad blocking, the birth of mobile experience formats like Facebook Instant Articles and Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), and the fake news fallout, the need for a quality experience on the internet is more than overdue.

Facebook cares a lot about page speed. If a user is going to leave its platform via an external link, the site they're headed to must be perfect, meaning no slow load times due to ad overload. Server response time is a deep measure of how professionally a site was built, which means sites no longer can buy placement into the News Feed with mediocre sites and experiences.

If your content isn't using Instant Articles and is hosted on a slow site, you won't even get a chance to make it into the News Feed. So not only will your slow response time turn away traffic, you'll miss out on gaining any new traffic.

It's not just Facebook either, says the report. Google has long factored in site speed into its PageRank algorithm for desktop experiences, and recently announced that it's about to do the same for mobile. This latest news is now threatening some of the biggest sites on the internet.

In 2018, if media doesn't have the profit margins for big tech teams, publishers need to focus on quality content first, and let that become their product, concludes the report.

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