Your Indispensable Guide to WP Caching

Your Indispensable Guide to WordPress Caching

As your WordPress website continues to grow, you may notice that its page loading time gradually starts to increase. This can lead to a lower search engine ranking and loss in your website’s traffic. Fortunately, you can install a WordPress caching solution to improve your site’s loading time manifold. Caching allows you to store a static version of your website in the visitor’s browser so that your site loads faster the next time they decide to visit it.

With this in mind, in this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about WordPress caching and suggest some tools that you can use to leverage caching to its full potential. By the time you’re done reading this post, you’ll hopefully have a better understanding of how WordPress caching works and why it’s a good idea to install a caching plugin on your site.

Let’s get right to it!

What Is WordPress Caching?

Have you ever noticed that the websites you visit most often load faster than others? This happens because your browser downloads some of the website’s assets, including HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and images, into its local cache to create a static version of the site the first time you visit it. And when you re-visit that site, the cache will serve you the static version it created, thereby reducing the page load time.

WordPress caching works (roughly) the same way.

When a visitor loads your WordPress website, they request your website’s assets from the host and content from your site’s database. Every time a visitor requests a web page, WordPress loads the content dynamically from your database. However, this last step usually isn’t necessary since your content doesn’t change that often.

You can leverage browser caching by setting up caching rules for your site’s content. Since serving a cached version of your website from the visitor’s browser cache is much faster than requesting the host to generate content dynamically, your site’s page load times will drop significantly. Simply put, caching speeds up future page requests by re-using the website assets stored from previous page requests.

Following the client-server architecture, the two types of caching protocols available for WordPress are client-side caching and server-side caching.

Client-Side Caching

As we mentioned above, web browsers maintain a local cache that downloads and stores the HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and images from the websites you visit. The web browser then serves those files from the local cache instead of downloading them over and over again every time you visit the website. Client-side caching (also called browser caching) helps reduce the server load by reducing the number of requests.

It does this by sending an If-Modified-Since header in the HTTP request to check to see if any of the files have been changed. If they have been modified since the date in the header, new files will be requested from the host. However, if the files haven’t been modified, then the previously downloaded files will be served to the user from their local cache.

Server-Side Caching

Server-side caching is mostly used in high-traffic websites. It includes the following caching protocols:

  • Page caching. Page caching takes place when HTML files are stored in the server’s memory and are served whenever a page request is made. It reduces a website’s page load time by reducing the number of database queries and without executing PHP code.
  • Database caching. There’s no need to query the database over and over again when the results of a database query are stored in the server’s memory and the web page hasn’t been modified. This has a huge impact on the page load time.
  • Object caching. WordPress has its own Object Caching API that stores the objects it uses in the server’s memory. Although this only lasts for a single request, WordPress caching solutions can re-use objects.
  • PHP opcode caching. PHP codes must be compiled into computer-readable code before they can be executed. PHP opcode caching saves the computer-readable version of the code that was compiled between requests, which leads to reduced page load times.

Now that you have a better understanding of how WordPress caching works, let’s take a look at why it’s important to cache your website.

Why Should I Cache My WordPress Site?

The average visitors’ patience for load times is decreasing dramatically. If your site doesn’t load fast enough to keep the increasingly short attention span of its visitors then you could potentially lose traffic. Here are a few reasons why you might want to spring for WordPress caching:

  • Lower page load times. Installing a caching solution can speed up your WordPress site. Static web pages served directly from the user’s local cache will take less time to load than dynamically queried files.
  • Improve search engine ranking. Google has already indicated that site speed is a key factor that determines its ranking on search engine results pages.
  • Save server resource consumption. WordPress caching is a great way to save some much needed storage space on your server. In addition to this, it can also help you cut back on the total number of requests made to the server via HTTP.

Which Caching Tools Are Best for WordPress Sites?

WordPress caching solutions offer a number of features that can help take a sizable chunk out of your site’s page load times. However, understanding those features can be difficult – especially if you’re not particularly technically minded.

Here are a few bits of functionality you should be on the lookout for when selecting your WordPress caching plugin:

  • CDN support. A content delivery network (CDN) is a network of data servers that stores cached version of your website on it. When a user sends in an HTTP request for a web page on your site, a cached copy of it is sent to them from the data server that’s closest to them.
  • Database caching and object caching. Those of you who have a lot of dynamic content on your website should opt for a WordPress caching solution that offers database and object caching. Dynamic content can be generated by anything from a social media widget to a shopping cart widget.
  • Minification. The minification feature works by compressing your website’s static files. This saves both bandwidth and storage space on your server.
  • Browser caching. Browser caching functionality allows users to configure how long to save the downloaded content on the visitor’s web browser. This way, you’re not dependent on the visitors’ local browser cache settings.

With that out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the most popular WordPress caching solutions out there.

W3 Total Cache

W3 Total Cache

W3 Total Cache is one of the best, free WordPress caching plugins available in the plugin directory. It is designed to help you improve your website’s SEO and user experience with features like CDN integration. By installing and configuring the W3 Total Cache plugin properly, you can experience at least 10x improvement in your site’s overall performance.

Key Features:

  • Offers transparent CDN management with the core WordPress software, theme files, and the Media Library.
  • Supports caching of pages, posts, CSS, JavaScript, database objects, objects in memory, feeds, and search results pages.
  • Minification of posts, pages, feeds, CSS, and JavaScript code.
  • Offers browser caching using cache-control, entity tags, and future expire headers.

WP Rocket

WP Rocket

WP Rocket is a premium WordPress caching plugin that is incredibly easy to use right out of the box. It offers a powerful suite of functionality, including page caching, cache pre-loading, static file compression, and image loading upon request. Since WP Rocket is a premium plugin, it also comes with support from the developers.

Key Features:

  • Supports most CDN services to reduce the latency of HTTP requests.
  • Offers page caching, browser caching, database optimization, and removal of query strings from CSS and JavaScript files.
  • Minification of HTML posts and pages, CSS, and JavaScript.
  • Offers GZIP compression to optimize the rendering of browsers and save bandwidth.

CloudFlare

Cloudflare

Cloudflare is a content delivery network that caches your content and sends your site’s traffic through its global networks of data servers to optimize performance and security. This allows your site’s viewership to be able to load your web pages at blazing fast speeds.

Key Features:

  • Offers a global content delivery network with 31 data centers across the world.
  • Allows you to accelerate dynamic content delivery.
  • Supports GZIP compression, minification, and browser caching.
  • Protects your site from DDoS attacks, SQL injections, and more.

Conclusion

WordPress caching is one of the best (and easiest) ways to improve your website’s overall performance and reduce its page loading time. This allows you to rest assured that you’re delivering the best user experience possible to your viewership while maintaining a high ranking in search engine results pages.

Do you have any questions about WordPress caching? Which caching plugin do you use to speed up your WordPress website? Let us know by commenting below!

This post may contain affiliate links, which means Nimbus Themes may receive compensation if you make a purchase using these links.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *