How to Improve Site Performance with WordPress Caching Plugins

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Good site performance is an important aspect of user experience, and to an extent of your business success too. If you have a WordPress site or a WooCommerce store, your visitors would want to find what they are looking for quickly. Longer site load time would mean that your visitors might go elsewhere. This will adversely affect your site’s popularity, and consequently your business too. One of the easiest ways to improve site performance is WordPress Caching. This article will introduce you to some of the popular WordPress Caching plugins that you can use on your site. You will also understand the benefits of using WordPress caching for your site.

How WordPress Caching Plugins help?

WordPress creates dynamic html pages by loading PHP codes to corresponding database queries. If the process is repeated every time a user makes a query on your site, then the site load time will be considerably longer. This is where caching comes into play. Cache is a location on your computer that stores relevant data from an operation that can be used for later requests. WordPress caching plugins will store the dynamic html pages on the user’s computer so that it is loaded much faster on the next request.

In other words, these plugins would store your web pages and blog posts as static files. It is much easier to load these static pages than create a new, dynamic html page every time. As a result, your server won’t be loaded with a lot of processing requests. Redundancy and load time on your WordPress site can be improved quite well this way.

Purging the cache

Caching your WordPress site may help you really well in improving your site performance, user experience, search engine optimization etc. However it can prove annoying when you are trying to make changes on the site sometimes. Due to caching, the changes you make on the site may not reflect immediately. Purging or clearing the cache is the solution to this problem. It basically means your cache is regenerated based on certain events on your site. For example, when a post is added or updated, or a comment is posted, etc. WordPress caching plugins kind of intuitively know when to do this so that your site visitors don’t have to deal with old pages or posts.

Clearing the cache can be done in multiple levels

Basically when you talk about clearing cache, it can be about your user’s browser cache or your WordPress site.

User’s browser cache – Most web browsers store different static components of your site in cache. These include images, css stylesheets, Javascripts, etc. Your users will have to clear the cache from their respective browser settings.

WordPress Caching Plugin’s – If you are using one of the WordPress Caching Plugins, you may have to purge the cache from the plugin settings page. Most of these plugins allow you to do this in a single click.

Caching has positive impact on your SEO strategies as well

Page load time is considered as an important parameter for good search engine ranking. Making your pages load faster should be one of the strategies that definitely finds a place in your SEO plan. In addition to SEO, it will help with user experience and consequently better conversion rates too. File compression, deflation, optimization, etc are some of the strategies that would help you a lot in reducing page load time.

Best WordPress Caching Plugins

If you search the WordPress plugin repository, you will find quite a lot of options to help you with caching. Some of these are really popular and is vouched by happy users. Let’s look into some of the features that make these options great.

WP Super Cache

This is one of the most popular plugins in the WordPress repository. With over one million active installs and over 900 five star ratings, this is clearly a leader in its category. Fundamentally, static html files are generated from the dynamic WordPress posts, which will be served to most of your users. However, for certain visitors, there will be a customized version. These visitors include logged in users, those who left a comment, those who are accessing restricted content, etc.

This is one of the ost popular WordPress caching plugins, and has multiple configuration options that you can choose depending on your technical expertise
This is one of the most popular WordPress caching plugins, and has multiple configuration options that you can choose depending on your technical expertise

This plugin can be set up in three ways. One that requires expert knowledge uses Apache mod_rewrite to display static html files that are ‘supercached’. This option is really fast as it bypasses PHP code execution. You can opt for this if the traffic on your site is really high. However, do keep in mind that this method involves modification of the ‘.htaccess’ file, which is quite critical. You may need a developer to do this.

The creators of the plugin recommend the second method, which is simpler. ‘Supercached’ files are served through PHP code execution. The plugin requires custom permalinks on your site for this method to work. It is much easier to use this method, as there are no complex code modifications involved. You can also keep parts of you web page dynamic with this method. The third method is WP-Cache caching, which is for customized page caching. For example, pages displayed to your logged in users, urls with feeds and parameters, etc. come under this.

Bouquet of features

WP Super Cache provides basic CDN support. A CDN (Content Delivery Network) is a network of servers that will help speed up your site’s loading time. The system identifies the geographical location of a user and delivers the page from the closest server location. You can create pre-loaded cached versions of each of your pages using this plugin. In addition, it deletes old files in your cache directory through a process called Garbage Collection. There are options to schedule this process and set a timeout too. Furthermore, there are hooks available to customize your caching process.

W3 Total Cache

This is a complete framework that helps you optimize multiple aspects of your WordPress site, so that your search engine page ranking and user experience remain top class. It is compatible with practically any hosting plan that you choose.

W3 Total Cache is a complete package that helps with overall aspects of your site's performance
W3 Total Cache is a complete package that helps with overall aspects of your site’s performance

W3 Total Cache provide caching of the following components on your site:

  • Pages and posts
  • CSS and Javascript
  • Search result pages
  • Feeds, which include comments, categories, tags, etc.
  • Database objects
  • Fragments

You can manage to store all these on RAM or Hard disc, according to your convenience.

Some of the obvious benefits of using this plugin include better search engine ranking, considerable improvement in site performance, etc. Reduction in server usage too can contribute to the overall performance of your site. It also contributes indirectly to better conversions on your site due to the improved user experience.

With over a million downloads and over 2600 five star ratings, W3 Total Cache is not really behind any other plugins of its kind.

WP Fastest Cache

Like the options above, this plugin too generates and stores static html files from dynamically created pages. The plugin uses Mod_Rewrite option for fast results. With easy setup and automatic modification of .htaccess file, this plugin is considered more user friendly than its competitors.

Simple configuration and dependable functionality makes this a much-loved caching option
Simple configuration and dependable functionality makes this a much-loved caching option

With this plugin, you can easily delete all cached files (including CSS and Javascript) from the settings page. It also deletes all cached pages by default when you publish a page or post. Using a shortcode, you can block specific page or post from caching. You can also set cache timeout for all or specific pages. There are options to disable caching for specific users such as your registered users, or those accessing your site from mobile devices. The plugin also offers integration with CDN, SSL support, and preloading options.

This plugin too is quite popular in the WordPress repository with over 400,000 active installs and more than 1500 five star ratings.

Comet Cache

Comet Cache offers an intuitive caching process to help you reduce the processing time on your WordPress site. It caches posts, pages, links and categories on your site effectively, so that your site performs optimally all the time.

Comet Cache offers an intuitive caching process with simple, straightforward set up
Comet Cache offers an intuitive caching process with simple, straightforward set up

It avoids caching for logged in users and users who recently left a comment. With the same logic, it avoids caching administrative and login pages too. Comet Cache provides options to automatically clear caching too. Many advanced features, including CDN integration, are available in the premium version of this plugin.

WP Rocket

Another popular caching plugin, suggested by experts, is WP Rocket. Though it is a premium one, it offers a load of advanced features. Moreover, it is quite simple to set up and use. WP Rocket doesn’t require any lengthy configuration; it gets to business right away after activation. The plugin instantly enables page caching on your site. It has a page loading simulation process makes search engine indexing easier.

Advanced features and great support sets apart WP Rocket from the rest of the lot.
Advanced features and great support sets apart WP Rocket from the rest of the lot.

Furthermore, it compresses the files (html, CSS, Javascript) on your site and that means pages will load much faster. The plugin offers lazy image loading, so that images are loaded only when the users scroll down the page. This is another great strategy to improve page loading time. The plugin also allows great customization options, as it has many hooks available for developers to work on. Furthermore, it has a user-friendly design and clean, developer-friendly code.

The pricing plan for WP Rocket starts from $39 for single site license. You will get one year of updates and dependable service with the purchase.

Factors to consider while selecting a WordPress caching plugin

As with the case of any other WordPress plugin, you should have a clear purpose before you install one of these plugins. Here are some of the aspects to consider.

Free or premium

As you may have noticed, there are quite a few awesome options available for WordPress caching plugins in the repository. Generally you choose the premium version of a plugin if you are looking for several additional features. Overall it increases the dependability of the product too. If you find a free option that would adequately serve your purpose, you can stick with that. However, if you find value with a premium option, it is quite a sensible option to go with that. For example, W3 Total Cache is really feature rich option, which is free.

Ease of setting up

If you have good technical knowledge, dealing with a plugin won’t be so much of a task for you. But if you are relatively new to WordPress, you may need guidance in setting up and configuring the plugin. Therefore, it is a good idea to check about the setting up procedure of these plugins. If the set up is complicated, and you find it tough to handle on a daily basis, there are always alternative options available. Sometimes, if a plugin has detailed documentation, that can surely help. WP Rocket is a great option that has pretty simple setting up.

Features

The number of features available is always a concern when you are choosing a plugin. For example, some of the caching plugins come with features like file compression, code cleanup, integration with content delivery network, etc. You have to take a call on whether you need these features based on the nature of your site.

Dedicated help

One generally noticeable aspect with premium WordPress plugins is that they come with dedicated support. Any issue you face while setting up or configuring the plugin, you can contact the developers to get help. Some of the free plugins too have great support, but it”s rather rare. Again, you can make the decision after carefully comparing different plugins and taking into account your knowledge level.

Conclusion

Caching is accepted as a definitive way to improve page loading and site performance on your WordPress site. Indirectly it improves user experience and search engine likability of your site too. WordPress caching plugins mentioned above make it particularly easy to manage page caching on your site. Since a wrong configuration can adversely affect the performance of your site, it is a good idea to gather essential technical knowledge before installing one of these plugins. You can read up on some of our related articles here or here. If you have any queries or suggestions regarding this article, please leave us a comment below.

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