Top 5 WordPress Caching Plugins to Improve The Website Speed
October 25th, 2016. Posted by Solvid.
As current day users become more and more demanding, website speed became critical as never before. Sites that take over 4-5 seconds to load put themselves at a significant disadvantage, at the same time, making the job easier for their competitors.
Slow sites can negatively impact the user’s experience and force them to hit the back button (often referred to as Pogo-Sticking). This can then lead to more severe consequences, such as loss of rankings and poor brand reputation, considering that Google has officially confirmed that website speed is one of more than 200 search engine ranking factors.
Although WordPress is a great CMS (Content Management System), all great tools have their own disadvantages, and in this case, it’s – Website Load Time.
In this post, we’re going to assess the Top 5 Caching Plugins for WordPress (in our opinion) to supercharge the speed of your site. We are going to evaluate the features what each cache plugin has to offer, the performance and configuration complexity. But first, let us explain what caching is, how it can help your site, and what are the other ways to speed up your site.
WHAT IS CACHING?
Caching is an act of creating static versions of the site, known as “cached pages”. So, instead of loading all the scripts, files, images & HTML pages all over again when the user refreshes the site, caching plugin retrieves already stored files. Consequently, this saves a lot of time rendering & downloading the page each and every time, and therefore, can drastically improve the website speed.
WHAT CACHING PLUGINS DO?
OTHER WAYS TO IMPROVE THE SPEED OF THE SITE
We’ve previously published a whole article on 10 Tips to Improve the Speed of the Website, which dives into the most important aspects of website speed optimisation. In few words, here are some other ways to improve the speed of your site:
Choose a good web host & WordPress theme
Enable GZIP Compression
Compress, Optimise and Rescale Image
Implement CDN (Content Delivery Network)
Eliminate unused and heavy plugins
Enable DNS prefetching & minimise lookups
Optimise database and clean up revisions
Optimise social sharing buttons
Avoid Self-Hosted Videos
Limit External Requests
Fix Broken Links
Enable Expires Headers
PLEASE NOTE: These should not be treated as alternatives to caching, but instead should go in hand when optimising the site for speed.
HOW DID CACHING HELP US?
After we’ve implemented WP-Rocket caching plugin and enabled its features, we’ve drastically improved our website performance by more than 70% (from 2.85 seconds to 841ms). Our performance grade has also improved significantly, taking into account that the page size has increased from 867KB to 1.7MB due to a re-design of the site.
Speed Before (Pingdom):
Speed After (Pingdom):
Speed After (GTMetrix):
WHERE TO TEST WEBSITE SPEED?
During the process of speed performance optimisation, it’s important to track the progress by using speed testing tools to see what else should be improved.
With over 1 million downloads, W3TC is one of the best performing cache plugins available for WordPress.
In order to take the full advantage of this plugin, you would need to be somewhat an experienced WordPress Developer. With loads of options, W3TC can be difficult to configure, to say the least. But, at the same time, it is also one of the most customisable solutions. That said, there are tonnes of videos and articles available that will help you getting your head around the plugin.
Page, Browser, Object, Database and Fragment Cache
WP Super cache is the most downloadable WordPress caching plugin, which is among the Top 10 most popular plugins on the entire WordPress. Unlike W3 Total Cache, this plugin is relatively easy to configure. So, if you are not an advanced WordPress Developer and don’t wish to spend hours figuring out how to configure the plugin correctly, WP Super Cache is the option to go with.
The main settings panel is divided into 7 main categories: Basic, Advanced, CDN, Contents, Preload, Plugins and Debug.
As well as the basic caching options, WP Super Cache offers a couple of advanced configurations.
WP-Rocket is our favourite caching tool and is the only paid plugin listed in this post. You would have to be prepared to pay $39 for 1 license, $99 for 3 websites or $199 for the unlimited number of sites. But, by looking at its features and performance, you will understand why this is a wise investment.
WP-Rocket is incredibly easy to configure. Unlike W3TC, anyone with a little bit of WordPress experience is able to configure the basic options. As soon as you activate the plugin, the page caching gets enabled automatically.
Page, Browser & Feed Caching
Google Fonts Optimisation
Image Optimisation & LazyLoad
CloudFlare Easy Integration
Automatic Cache Expiration (24 hours set as default)
We’ve tested all of the caching plugins listed above, and found that WP-Rocket is the best performing & the most convenient solution for our case (your situation may be different, and you may find other plugins performing better).
Please Note: These are just our own thoughts and opinions, and you may find that results can be completely different for your site.
Warning! Some plugins may damage your site and/or theme files. If you encounter any compatibility issues, try to disable the options, deactivate the plugin or contact the provider.
If you haven’t already, the first step in the right direction to improve your WordPress site performance is to make the use of the caching plugin.
Secondly, optimise, compress and rescale your images.
Here are some tools to do that:
WP Smush It – Bulk Image Optimisation Plugin for WordPress