A Warning about Caching Plugins
It is vitally important to understand what your Website Hosting Provider has in place already for caching.
Some hosting providers will tell you don’t need a caching plugin because they have a robust caching setup already.
In fact, some Web Hosting providers do not allow caching plugins
But Web Caching Plugins have many extras outside of just caching web files
Personally, I’ve paid for WP Rocket, it has many extras that free plugins don’t have.
In fact, WP Rocket works alongside many of the major hosting providers to ensure they meet the hosting companies’ requirements.
Having tried many of the free caching plugins I’ve realised you get what you pay for.
Also, many of the free Web Caching Plugins are forbidden on some hosting platforms.
Fast Sites lead to happier Users
Usability and Content are the factors that drive your ranking on Google.
If your content answers the user’s intent but your site is not usable due to slow downloading times, you will lose customers.
For example, The BBC found they lost an additional 10% of users for every additional second their site took to load.
Fast sites lead to higher Google Search Rankings
Caching leads to faster download times which is a crucial factor that Google considers when deciding your ranking in the SERP (Search Engine Result Pages).
All other things being equal the faster site wins in the SERP (Search Engine Result Pages).
WordPress needs Caching
WordPress is dynamic and database driven. This means in normal circumstances when a webpage is requested it must be dynamically created using PHP and SQL — this takes time.
So, having a caching strategy stops new visitors to your site having to wait whilst the page is created on the fly.
With caching activated the page will be served from the cache which is much faster than waiting for the page to be created dynamically.
Normally your hosting provider has a server cache which holds webpages that have passed through it. Don’t assume this – you get what you pay for generally.
Let’s Define Web Caching
Caching is the temporary storage of static web files which can normally be re-used if the original data has not changed.
Caching stops requests for web files being served from the Origin Server (Hosting Server) if they have not changed from the original request. This can have an incredibly significant impact on page loading speed.
The most obvious web cache resides in the browser you are using now — unless you’ve disabled it in the preferences.
What are the benefits of Web Caching?
- Caches reduce redundant data transfers. Meaning if it can be served from the cache it will be.
- Caches reduce network bottlenecks. Pages load faster without more bandwidth.
- Caches reduce demand on origin servers. Servers reply faster and avoid overload.
- Caches reduce distance delays. Pages load slower from farther away. Electricity is fast but the data must be processed through networking hardware with the added burden of protocol verification.
Common Web Caches
Some of the terminology is a bit confusing around caching. As a cache can be an element of a proxy.
- Web Browser Caches are called Private Caches.
- Internet Service Providers have caches for frequently accessed files. Commonly called Proxy, or Public Caches, or Access or, Ingress Proxies.
- Server Caches, Surrogate Caches or Reverse Proxies which sit in front of an Origin server, which cache files that pass through it. These surrogate caches are much faster than the server they sit in front of.
- Content Delivery Networks which have servers distributed worldwide with cached versions of static files which overcome the propagation factor of distance.
WordPress and Caches
What is a Good Web Caching Strategy for WordPress Sites?
- Use a good hosting provider. You get what you pay for.
- Use a Web Caching Plugin.
- Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network).
Good hosting providers have a robust infrastructure in place, with fast surrogate caches ensuring fast delivery of Origin Server content. In fact, a caching plugin might only be required for non-caching duties like minification and compression with some hosting providers.
Web Caching plugins there are aplenty. A lot are free. A search for a plugin using the term “cache” returns 3000+ plus plugins.
A CDN (Content Delivery Network) is not essential if your intended market is just your home country and your server is in the same country.
That said there is still a speed gain to be had by using a CDN (Content Delivery Network) as they use cached versions of your files — on very powerful servers.
What else can Web Caching plugins do besides caching?
This list is not exhaustive and is taken from WP Rocket’s site.
- Reduction of the number of HTTP requests to reduce loading time
- Decreasing bandwidth usage with GZIP compression
- Apply optimal browser caching headers (expires)
- Minification and concatenation of JS and CSS files
- Remove query strings from CSS and JS files
- Deferred loading of images (Lazy Load)
- WebP compatibility
- Generation of Critical Path CSS and deferred loading of CSS files
- Database optimization
- WordPress Heartbeat API control
- DNS prefetch
- CDN integration
- Cloudflare integration
- Sucuri integration
- Host Google Analytics files locally
- Host Facebook Pixel files locally
What are the best five WordPress Web Caching Plugins?
The best five are:
What WordPress caching plugin do I recommend?
W3 Total Cache
Why I have chosen WP Rocket?
- Compatibility & Trust — WP Rocket endeavours to work with the most popular Hosting Providers. In some cases, WP Rocket is the only plugin allowed by many web hosting providers.
- Ecommerce — WP Rocket works with plugins like WooCommerce
- Easy — WP Rocket works straight out-of-the-box without tinkering. If you want to tinker with the extras, you can.
- CDN (Content Delivery Network) — WP Rocket works with Cloudflare. WP Rocket also has its own CDN as an optional extra.
- Image Optimisation — WP Rocket now offers Image optimisation as an optional extra.
- Support – Being a paid-for plugin you get excellent support.
Get WP Rocket
But more importantly, as WP Rocket is paid for, it must work – which it does.
When I first started using WordPress, I chose SiteGround to host my site on cost alone. It turned out be an exceptionally appropriate choice, not just on cost, but on server performance. SiteGround’s caching plugin SG Optimizer works hand in hand with WP Rocket.
I must reiterate that contacting your hosting provider, or at least reading their documentation is essential.