Let’s start with the truth, shall we? You would not be here on this website if it had taken a lot of time to load. Instead, you would already have been browsing the next link suggested by Google. Researchers suggest that a majority of the users do not wait for more than three seconds for a website to load. And, many of those lost customers are not likely to return to your WordPress blog ever again. Who would have guessed that the three lost seconds could cause so much harm?
In our fast-paced world where people hate waiting, it’s crucial that your website loads up the moment your customer presses ‘Go’ on his web browser.
There are many ways to increase your website speed:
- WordPress caching
- Choosing a good WordPress hosting
- Lightweight and speed-optimized themes
- Using a Content Delivery Network
- Landing and homepage optimization
Let us understand what WordPress caching is and how it helps in reducing website load times.
1. What is caching?
To understand how caching works, let’s first take a simple example to understand the underlying idea. If someone asks you what the answer to 5x3 is, you wouldn’t need to carry out all the steps to know that it equals to 15. This is because you have carried out the multiplication so many times, that it doesn’t really require any mental processing. Caching works in a similar manner.
Websites are viewed almost a million times per month. Usually, each time a browser requests a web page, the server has to do a bunch of complicated and time-consuming calculations. It retrieves posts, generates the header and footer, finds your site’s sidebar widgets, etc. In most cases, the results of such calculations will be the same. It would be great if the server could remember the final result, instead of processing each request individually, wouldn’t it?
This is where caching solution plays an important role!
2. How does caching work?
Assume that you have a caching-enabled blog. Now, when a user visits your website for the first time, they receive the page in the normal manner – the request is received by and processed on the server, with the resulting web page being turned into an HTML file and sent to the user’s browser.
Since caching has been turned on, the server stores this HTML file within its RAM. The next time a user visits the site, the server will no longer be required to do the processing and conversion into HTML – it sends the stored HTML file to the browser!
You might wonder if this process works, in case a new post has been published on the blog. Would the caching process skip the new post? A caching system doesn’t just store the prepared HTML files, but it also empties the cache when certain conditions are met (in this case, the publishing of a new post).
WordPress caching is used and implemented in two forms:
- Client-side caching
- Server-side caching
i. Client-side caching:
Client-side caching is also known as browser caching. In this type of cache, the static HTML pages are stored on the user’s local computer. Whenever a user visits the site, a copy is loaded from his computer. Thus, this approach is much faster.
ii. Server-side caching:
Server-side caching is used when you have a massive website with multiple databases. To increase efficiency, static pages are stored on the website server’s hard disk or RAM. Although this is not faster than browser caching, it is still faster than no caching.
3. Reasons to use WordPress caching:
We talked about how caching is going to give your website a speed boost, but there are more reasons for implementing caching as a direct or indirect consequence of the speed increase.
Search engines love websites that are quick to load. A faster site will mean a better SEO rank, and the higher you are on the search engine results page, the more traffic your website is going to get.
ii. Reduced load on website server:
Because of caching, a snapshot of the webpage is loaded every time a user requests it. This means that the number of steps involved in serving a webpage is reduced, thereby leading to a reduction of load on the web servers. Not just your customers, but even your web host will be happy!
iii. Better user experience:
When users don’t have to wait for pages, they are going to browse your site more and visit it more often.
Now that we have talked about the advantages of WordPress caching, let us talk about why you will have to clear your WordPress cache.
4. Why you will have to clear your WordPress website cache?
Remember that caching saves the static webpages of your site. That means whenever you make any change in the live site, the end user will not be able to see it if caching on his browser is enabled. This is certainly not good.
Moreover, the search engines will also think that there is no new content on your website, which will affect your SEO, too. You would not want that as well.
When you update your WordPress themes and plugins, the changes won’t reflect on your user’s systems unless you clear your cache. Imagine all that effort you put in and not letting your customers know about it
Therefore, whenever you make any changes or update your website, you must clear your cache. Ideally, it would have been great if the cache intuitively cleared on its own when there was any change. Since that’s not possible, it falls on the webmaster to clear the cache when required.
I know caching is looking a lot more complicated now, leaving you in a dilemma if you should use it or not. Every WordPress related problem has a solution in the form of the following option.
i. WordPress cache plugins:
That’s right, WordPress has hundreds of caching plugins (premium, free, and freemium) which take care of caching for you. With just a click, plugins will cache your website, find the pages which should be used for building the cached site, and perform many more activities which you’ll no won’t have to bother about.
Here are some of the most popular caching plugins to get you started:
- WP Rocket (Plans start from $49)
- W3 Total Cache (Free and paid from $99)
- WP Super Cache (Free)
- Cache Enabler (Free)
- Comet Cache (Plans start from $39)
- WP Fastest Cache (Free and lifetime plan for $39.99)
- Hyper Cache (Free)
Find more plugins here.
Some of the features which you should look out for when choosing a plugin are:
- One-click caching and clearing the cache
- Simple UI
- Mobile caching
- Gzip compression
- Lazy Loading for images
- Page caching
- Object caching
- Cache pre-loading
- CDN support
- DNS pre-fetching
- Page compression
Ideally, you should try out a few plugins before you settle on one you think is the best for your site. But before you find and install a WordPress plugin, it’s advisable to take a backup! Although plugins are beneficial and help simplify managing your WordPress websites, they can also cause your site to break.
This is why it’s so important to take a backup before you make any changes on your site. BlogVault has the most reliable backup plugin with a 100% recovery rate. So if anything goes wrong on your site, you can rely on BlogVault’s backup solution!