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Mar 3, 2023
Caching Plugins for a WordPress Site
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Going on a website with a slow loading time is a very bad experience for users. Furthermore, it is equally bad for search engine optimization (SEO) because search engines hate recommending slow websites with high bounce rates. So how can you improve this and avoid making the rookie mistake of not doing anything about it until it’s too late? Here’s how to speed up your WordPress website real quick.

We’re going to set up a caching plugin. To do so, we have a variety of plugins to choose from. Free versions, or the premium ones. I recommend these two: WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache. But in this article, I’m just going to give you a brief guide for WP Super Cache.

Let me guide the process. After installing the plugin, you can do some extra configurations by clicking the “settings” menu on your WordPress sidebar. You will have the option to turn on the Caching. Turn it on and click “update status”. Now the plugin will begin working seamlessly in the background to check and convert big PHP files to smaller HTML ones to make the task of loading pages on your website easier.

Next, you can explore some more advanced options of the plugin on these tabs under the settings menu.

Advanced tab

For beginners, it’s always better to follow the recommendations so go ahead and make sure the recommended options are ticked. Some of their recommendations are not enabled by default so make sure to double-check. Here are some that are worth checking out:

  • Compress pages. Compressed pages speed-up loading but there can potentially be issues if you enable this so you can try and test to see if it’s working perfectly specifically for your website.
  • Don’t cache page for new users. In case there’s any update the change will be directly visible.
  • Extra homepage checks. This is important because most visitors will start on your home page so you want to make sure that the cache of the homepage has all the updated information.

When you have ticked what you need, click on the Update Status button

CDN

CDN or Content Delivery Network enables your website visitors to load some static files from the server closest to them instead of the server hosting your website. The CDN provider will keep the cache of your static files all over their network of servers. Let me give you an example: say someone who is in Indonesia is visiting your site that is hosted in the US. With CDN, they probably can load some of the content from the CDN server that is much closer, let’s say in Singapore. It’s a lot closer to them hence it will be faster. Enable this feature by checking the “Enable CDN Support”. Save changes.

Contents

This section will show your cache status, when was the last caching took place, how many of your pages are cached, and how many of them are expired if there’s any. Additionally, it also provides you with the list of your cached pages.

Preload

I recommend enabling the preload mode so that when someone visits for the first time, a cache file will be created so the second and third time only the cache is accessed and loading time will be better. Remember, faster loading times equal to higher google ranking! This can also be done for your tags, categories, etc. I would also update the refresh period for the cache to 1,440 minutes which is about a day.

So go ahead and tick the boxes and click update settings.

Don't get caught plagiarizing

So that is it! Your plugin is set up and your website should be optimized for faster loading. When your site is relatively new, caching probably will not affect you that much as there’s not much to load anyway, but once you have more pages, contents, and files, you will be able to tell the difference. 

One last thing, if you’re curious about how your website is performing speed-wise, you can run a test against your site. You can use tools.pingdom.com. It’s sort of like an audit for website performance. Just put down the site address and select the location you want to test from and boom! You can check out your loading time, how it compares to other websites, they also give suggestions on how to improve your website even further.

So congratulations! You’ve learned how to configure caching for your websites and checking your website performance.

Review:

  1. What does a caching plugin do?
  2. What does CDN enable your website to do?
  3. What information can we get by using tools.pingdom.com?
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