A Web cache is simply a temporary storage place for files. For websites, Caches help to speed up the load time and this can have real benefits including impressive user experience and ranking benefits on search engines. After an original request for data has been successfully fulfilled, and that data has been stored in the cache, further requests for those files (a Web page complete with images, for example) results in the information being returned from the cache rather than the original location.
Why is Caching Important
There are a good number of reasons you have to enable on your WordPress website. Here are some of them:
- It enhances the speed and performance of your website. Cached pages are like static pages and they load faster than dynamic database queries. This results in faster loading and better performance of your website. Speed is very important for every website and an improvement of just a single second can have huge implications for your bottom line. For example, back in 2012, Amazon estimated that if their website loaded just one second slower it would cost them $1.6 billion in sales; and this number has surely only increased since then.
- Caching also help reduce the load on your hosting server. This can save server memory. As a result, caching is fast becoming a vital feature, especially for those with limited hosting plans.
- Search engines love fast loading websites. Faster websites do not just load fast, but also get a favorable rank with search engines. This, obviously, depends heavily on other metrics as well, such as the quality of your content and your SEO settings. But all other things being constant, a website that loads faster will get a better pagerank than a slower website. Google has confirmed that it takes pagespeed in consideration in ranking in its search engine result pages. Google uses page speed as a factor when determining where to rank your content in its search engine results pages. So, if you want greater search engine visibility and more traffic from sites like Google, you need to speed up your website. No matter the purpose of your website – whether it’s to promote products and services or simply build an audience – higher bounce rates, reduced conversion rates, and decreased search engine rankings hurt.
- Reduced Conversion Rate. This is another very important reason to take caching seriously. You’re probably not operating quite on Amazon’s scale, but slow loading times are still costly. According to Kissmetrics, 40% of your visitors will lose patience and leave your site if your pages take more than three seconds to load. A single second of delay can reduce your conversions by 7%. Even if you’re not selling anything from your site, you probably have some goal in mind. Whether that goal is more email subscribers, more social shares, or just more page views and discussion, slow loading times will hurt your goal conversion rates.
Now, how shoud caching be implemented on a WordPress website? The easiest way to do so is by means of plugins. There are several free and premium WordPress plugins out there that help you to enable caching on your website. We shall take a look at some of the recommended caching plugins below:
How Caching Should Be Implemented in WordPress
One of the simplest methods of implementing caching for a WordPress site is through third-party plugins. Because repeated page requests can be slow and expensive in terms of resources, it is helpful to cache the results of those requests.
W3 Total Cache
This plugin ranks as the second-most popular caching plugin for WordPress and is recommended by the WordPress Codex. W3 Total Cache needs to be configured after installation.and the plugin provides tips as to which settings are recommended for general use. A more advanced user can fine tune the plugin as desired.
WP Super Cache
WP Super Cache will cache your files through one of three ways: mod_rewrite (the fastest method available and meant for the advanced user), PHP (the second fastest method and recommended for most users), and Legacy caching (mainly used to cache pages for known users). All three of these utilize disk caching, which is generally slower than the alternative of memory caching (unless your server boasts a solid state drive, or SSD, which can allow disk caching to exceed memory caching speeds).
It is free to download and is highly recommended by the WordPress Codex. While very easy to set up (simply push one button to turn on caching, it doesn’t offer as much as W3 Total Cache does in the way of settings.
WP Fastest Cache generates static HTML pages of your content to speed up page load times. In addition to WordPress caching, it also offers various performance optimization options, such as the ability to minify HTML and CSS and speed up JS scripts.
WP Fastest Cache also supports GZip compression that can be used to reduce the size of files sent from your server. This plugin is free, but is backed by a premium version that comes with added features, such as the ability to integrate with CDN services.
WP-Cache.com is very simple WordPress caching plugin that currently scores 5 out of 5 stars and is installed on over 5,000 sites. It offers mixed results. In a GTmetrix tests, it took 0.85 seconds off the load time, resulting in a 31.53% improvement in page speed. However, in Pingdom tests, it took just a third of a second off the load time, with a speed increase of 8.56%.
Cache Enabler is a relatively newer WordPress plugin. It offers an extremely simple and easy to use interface. In other words, this plugin does what it is meant to do – cache your content and serve static cached pages to visitors.
Cache Enabler is probably meant for you if you need a simple cache solution. This plugin does not involve heavy configuration or settings. It simply works out of the box. On the other hand, if you are used to something that offers granular control over every aspect of caching, Cache Enabler might seem rather unimpressive to you.
Note that since Cache Enabler is a new plugin, it is way less popular than the other entries on this list (currently, it has over 6000 active installs).
Comet Cache offers caching features such as generation of static HTML pages, as well as optimization features like GZip compression. It supports both browser and server-side caching. Currently, Comet Cache has over 30,000 active installs. Comet Cache also has a Pro version, that lets you do stuff such as integrate with CDN services, run custom PHP code, enforce canonical URLs, etc. The Comet Cache interface is slightly confusing though, and not as clean as that of the other plugins on this list. You might need some time before you get used to it. This is a premium solution, but it has been proven to deliver perhaps the best results out of all WordPress caching tools on the market.
WP Rocket is easy to set up, and also offers more individual features compared to the other plugins on this list. WP Rocket is one of the most popular premium option in our list of the best WordPress caching plugins. It consistently scores well in side-by-side comparisons with other caching plugins for WordPress and is currently installed on over 100,000 sites. A single-site license costs $39, a three-site license $99, and an unlimited license can be yours for $199. According to GTmetrix, WP Rocket cut the loading time by 0.98 seconds, improving the speed by 34.12%. In Pingdom tests, it cut the loading time by 1.27 seconds on average, with a speed improvement of 35.21%. These results make it the fastest plugin of the best WordPress caching tools.
This plugin is completely free and is definitely one of the simplest free caching plugins available, Simple Cache has two settings: on and off. It is rated 4.7 out of 5 stars and is currently installed on over 1,000 sites. Simple Cache took an average of 0.75 seconds off our test site’s load time in GTmetrix, with an average speed increase of 26.93%. In Pingdom tests, it shaved led to a 26.62% increase in speed. Both are respectable results that make Simple Cache a good choice for anyone looking for a fool proof WordPress caching plugin
Cachify features several different types of caching and works with WordPress multisite installations. It’s rated 4.7 out of 5 stars and has over 20,000 active installs. This plugin took an average of 0.78 seconds off the load time in a GTmetrix tests, resulting in a speed improvement of 27.89%. In Pingdom tests, Cachify decreased the load time by 0.74 seconds, resulting in a 21.14% improvement. These respectable results placed it around the middle of the best WordPress caching plugins.
WP-FFPC (WordPress Fast Full Page Cache) uses memory caching as its default option, which is usually a faster alternative to disk caching. It offers several methods for memory caching, including APC, APCu, xCache, PHP memcached, and Nginx memcached. Other features include cache exclude options, optional cache for logged-in users, and varying expiration times for posts, taxonomies, and home pages. While this plugin is free to download, it does require some experience with the caching applications listed above to complete setup and configuration.
Also read: WordPress Maintenance Tasks You Need to Perform Regularly
Caching is the one of the simplest and most effective ways to speed up your WordPress site. Additional plugins on any WordPress site do open the door to security vulnerabilities, which is why we always recommend keeping your plugins and themes updated.
Hyper Cache is a PHP caching plugin that works on any WordPress blog and does not require complex configuration. It has separate caches for desktop and mobile users, and an extra feature that allows it to cache efficiently even on sites with very active user commenting and discussion participation – something which is known to trip up other caching plugins. It scores 4.5 out of 5 stars and there are over 50,000 active installs according to the WordPres Plugin Directory statistics.
In a GTmetrix testing, Hyper Cache reduced the page load time by an average of 0.45 seconds, improving the speed by 13.75 percent. It fared a little better in the Pingdom tests, decreasing the load time by 0.71 seconds and improving the speed by 20.37%.