Site speed is a very important search ranking factor. Internet users aren’t a patient lot. A well-referenced study by Akamai revealed that 40% of people will abandon the search if the website takes longer than 3 seconds to load. Caching is a form of technology that will help your website load really fast and encourage visitors to explore your content.
What Is Caching?
Caching is a process that stores frequently accessed content into a facility called a cache. Why is caching important for your WordPress website?
First, let’s examine the activities that take place when someone clicks on your URL.
When an Internet user lands on your page, his browser will establish contact with your server to request information. Your server will retrieve the information – essentially, your content – from the database.
Then, the server will compile all of the retrieved information into an HTML page and send it back to the Internet searcher.
This dynamic process of retrieving information that’s requested by the Internet user ensures visitors of reading updated content on the website. However, it can slow down the page load time especially if there are other users requesting information from the server.
Keep in mind that the components of a webpage today are much different than what it was 10 years ago.
In 2010, the average webpage required 702KB of data to download. Fast-forward to 2019, and the average webpage required 2.2MB of data to download.
Over the past decade, webpages increased in size by 317% because of the increased use of videos, high-resolution images, and complex scripts. The contents of your webpage only change when you publish new content or update old ones.
A caching plug-in makes the process of delivering information faster to the Internet user by creating a static version of your webpage. Thus, when an Internet user’s browser requests for information from your website’s server, what he will see is the cached version of the webpage.
There’s no need for the server to retrieve the information requested by the browser from the database. Fewer data are needed to transmit the cached page to the site visitor and therefore, site speed improves.
Here’s an analogy that will help you understand the concept of a cache plug-in.
Let’s say you have a workshop where you keep all of your handyman tools and other equipment for conducting repairs around the house or for building crafts. For sure, you have repair and maintenance procedures that you do on a monthly basis.
Instead of running out to the workshop to look for the right tools every time repair and maintenance works have to be done, the fastest way would be to keep these tools inside a portable toolbox.
Basically, when repairs are needed, you just grab the toolbox and go. Another option would be to keep the toolbox inside your home.
The workshop is the server and the toolbox is the cache. No time wasted browsing for tools inside the workshop.
So if a cache plug-in retrieves frequently requested content, what happens if you update your content? Will it still work for visitors returning to your website a second time?
A caching plug-in has a feature that automatically “empties” the cache and generates the updated version of your content every time you publish a new post or introduce changes to existing information.
What Are The Different Types Of Caching?
There are 2 types of caching: Client-Side and Server Side caching.
Client-Side caching is also called Browser Caching because it enables your browser to store your static content such as images, scripts, and stylesheets. The information is stored inside a hard drive on your computer.
In contrast, Server-Side caching could be different types that can be managed with a caching plug-in.
Here are the different types of Server-Side caching:
- Page Caching – The web page is stored in the hard disk of the server.
- User Caching – Two types of caching are created; one for your visitors and a second one for members or those who log-in.
- Object-based Caching – Caching plug-ins are used to manage the internal caching systems of WordPress websites.
- Mobile Caching – A cache is created to store information requested by visitors who use mobile devices.
- Database Query Caching – Enables you to cache a single query to your database and store it in the server until such time that changes or updates on the cached information are made.
- Opcode Caching – PHP pages are compiled in a code that can be executed by any device accessing the webpage. Opcode caching reduces the amount of compilation and therefore, speed up the loading time by caching the compiled code.
What Are The Best Caching Plug-ins For Your WordPress Website?
Since you made it this far in our article, we’ve hopefully convinced you to put a caching plug-in into your WordPress website.
We can’t stress it enough; speed is a very important factor in the search rankings. You could stand to lose sales if your website is not fast enough to meet the satisfaction of the site visitor.
Searching for the best caching plug-in can be tricky because there are many caching plug-ins that are available for your WordPress website.
To find out the best caching plug-in, we selected the ones which are the easiest to install and delivers the fastest results when it comes to improving site speed.
Here are 5 of the best caching plug-ins you can consider for your WordPress website:
1. WP Rocket
WP Rocket is one of the most popularly used caching plug-ins. It is reportedly installed on more than 100,000 websites. WP Rocket has been measured by GTMetrix to reduce loading time by an amazing 0.98 seconds.
How impressive is a reduction of 0.98 seconds in loading time? It improved website speed by an average of 34.12%!
2. Hyper Cache
If you have a webpage that generates active engagement or frequent interactions with commenters, Hyper Cache is the ideal caching plug-in for you. This is a PHPO caching plug-in that is easy to install and works very well with WordPress blogs.
To ensure site speed, Hyper Cache has caches for mobile and PC users. An interesting feature of this caching plug-in is that it will continue to cache effectively even if there is an active discussion going on.
According to statistics published by WordPress, Hyper Cache has been installed in more than 50,000 websites.
GTMetrix testing showed that Hyper Cache can reduce the loading speed of a webpage by 0.45 seconds on average. Overall download speed was improved by an average of 13.75%.
3. W3 Total Cache
WordPress statistics reveal that W3 Total Cache is installed in more than a million websites. Among these websites are prestigious publications such as Mashable, Designer Depot, and Smashing Magazine.
GTMetrix tests that were conducted on W3 Total Cache turned in results that showed this caching plug-in reduced page loading time by an average of 0.62 seconds.
Websites that used W3 Total Cache experienced an overall improvement in page loading time of 20.64%.
4. WP Fastest Cache
We can describe WP Fastest Cache as the no-frills caching plug-in. It doesn’t have as many features or options for customization as the other caching plug-ins which makes WP Fastest Cache the easiest one to use for the average person.
WordPress reports that more than 100,000 websites use WP Fastest Cache. Is WP Fastest Cache worthy of its name as “fastest cache”?
No, as speed load tests revealed it only reduced page loading times by half-a-second. Still, the page loading time of the webpages that used WP Fastest Cache improved by 15.3% according to studies run by GTMetrix.
5. WP Super Cache
Similar to WP Rocket, WP Super Cache has been estimated by WordPress to be actively installed in more than one million websites. Popular blog sites love WP Super Cache’s ability to maintain download speed even if the server experiences big spikes in traffic.
With WP Super Cache, page loading speed times were reduced by 0.85 seconds and overall page loading speed was improved by 28.07% according to studies conducted by GTMetrix.
Never overlook the importance of website speed. As the Internet becomes more accessible worldwide and as mobile technology grows more popular, you can expect traffic to create more slowdowns in page loading times.
Installing a caching plug-in will go a long way in improving page loading speed and subsequently, overall user experience.
If you want to learn more about what a caching plug-in can do and how to install one, give us a call or drop an email.
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