It’s hard to overstate the importance of loading speeds on a website. Slow-loading pages can have a negative impact on the way your site operates, and may also cause visitors to leave your site in frustration.
‘Caching’ is a way to create static copies of your website that can be stored closer to where your visitors are at. This cuts down on the time it takes for your site’s data to travel between its server and a visitor’s browser. Caching offers numerous benefits, but is most commonly used to improve performance and decrease loading times.
In this article, we'll explain what caching is, and discuss how it can improve your site’s speed and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). We'll also explain how to implement caching on your WordPress site. Let’s get started!
Caching is very advantageous to most websites, yet is often under utilised because website owners don’t understand how it works. To make sense of caching, you first need to consider the process that happens when someone visits your website.
The visitor’s browser sends a request to your site’s server, asking for all the data that makes up your site – including its code, content, and media. That data is sent back to the visitor’s browser, and each piece must be loaded before the page can be fully displayed.
This is process is usually so fast that the visitor won’t even realise it’s happening. However, if your traffic rates are high, your site contains a lot of data, or the visitor is located far away from your server, it may take more than a few seconds for all the necessary information to be transferred over.
That’s where caching comes in. A caching solution will create copies of your site, which can be stored and displayed to visitors more quickly. This is usually because those copies are stored in the visitors’ browsers, or in various servers that are spread out geographically. Either way, this process cuts down on the back-and-forth communication that’s usually required between your site’s main server and your visitors’ devices.
As we’ve mentioned, the primary benefit of regularly caching your site is that it’s very likely to improve loading speeds. Most visitors expect a website to load in less than two seconds. Failing to hit that target could encourage people to look elsewhere for the content they need.
Therefore, caching your site and improving its speeds can lead to increased levels of conversions and site traffic. What’s more, high-performing sites tend to rank more favourably in the results pages of search engines like Google.
Caching can even help reduce the load on your website’s server, meaning that you’ll use less server memory for each new visit. This makes it an excellent performance-boosting strategy if you’re using a WordPress hosting plan with limited resources.
Despite the extensive benefits, however, many people never set up caching on their websites. This is partly because they assume it’s a difficult process. In reality, caching is a lot easier to implement than you might expect.
The fastest and simplest way to cache your site is by enlisting the help of a handy plugin. There are numerous options out there, but the WP Fastest Cache plugin is a particularly effective and user-friendly option:
After installing and activating the plugin, open its settings in your WordPress dashboard. On the resulting screen, you should see an option called Cache System. Select the Enable check box next to it, which will tell the plugin to start working on your site:
From there, you can begin to adjust the plugin’s additional settings as you see fit. Let’s look at some of the most important options to consider:
The Preload setting will generate page caches automatically, instead of waiting for someone to visit the site. You can even choose which features you want to automatically cache.
The Logged-in Users feature will enable you to avoid presenting the cached version of your site to known users – such as administrators, or any web developers you’ve hired. This ensures that the people who work on your site will always see the most up-to-date version of its content.
Mobile disables the presentation of cached files for users on mobile devices.
New Post and Update Post ensure that your cache is automatically cleared when a post or page is published or updated.
The Gzip feature uses compression to reduce the size of the files transferred from your server. This can improve loading times even further.
Once you have everything set up the way you prefer, select Submit to save your chosen settings. After that, it’s a good idea to test your site’s performance to see where it’s at. If you find there’s been an improvement, that’s great news! If there’s still a little more work to do, don’t worry – you can keep tweaking the plugin’s settings until you’re happy with the result.
The time it takes for your site to load plays a major role in its success (or failure). Users expect fast pages, and will look elsewhere if you fail to deliver. Fortunately, caching your site enables you to easily keep your performance levels at a consistently high level.
Caching creates static versions of your website and stores them in external locations, which means they’ll take less time to load. This can improve your site’s user experience, while also boosting your search engine rankings.Plus, when you’re using a plugin such as WP Fastest Cache, caching is a relatively simple process.
Do you have any more questions about how to set up caching on your WordPress site? Let us know in the comments section below!
Image credit: Rawpixel.
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