WordPress is an amazing tool to help non-technical business people make the most of the web, but at the cost of speed which Google uses to calculate site value.
Never before has it been so easy for business owners to run their own websites but today, speed has become a major factor in successful online marketing. Google recently confirmed that in addition to site longevity and inbound links, speed has become a major factor in determining the value of a website.
How do you speed up WordPress?
First, understand it. WordPress works by pulling data from a database and assembling it into website templates, the more times it has to call that database the slower it’ll be. To speed it up then, we need to minimize the number of calls to the database and that’s where caching comes in.
What is Page Caching?
In the simplest form possible, page caching is like photocopying your website. Imagine that you’re a teacher in a classroom and each time a student comes to your desk, you must write them a note to take home to their parents. That’s what WordPress is doing each time people come to the website, it’s rewriting the whole site. Now instead imagine that you can write the note once and each student receives a copy of that note, that’s what caching is.
Caching builds your website once and stores the files as local HTML documents, which it then serves to users.
How to enable caching in WordPress
There are several caching scripts out there but the best (in my opinion) is called WP Super Cache, it’s downloadable from your Plugins > Add New control panel. Once you’ve installed it, open the settings panel and configure it for your best results.
While I can’t say what will be best for every website, the sites on my network have over 25,000 unique page loads a day and these settings work great for me.
First, turn Super Cache ON. I don’t use mobile settings, simply because cool kids have iPhones so if you’re cool and want to read my site you don’t need mobile settings. If you’re not cool, well …
Next, ensure that you don’t have a checkmark beside Don’t cache pages for known users. (Logged in users and those that comment). This settings will cause WP to reload the page when users like yourself visit it.
I want to make it clear, these settings work for me, but you might need to customize them.
Now, caching is a funny thing. Just because you’ve asked for it to be cached doesn’t actually mean that it is. This is because the page will only be cached the first time it’s loaded and most likely that’ll be by Google so, all the caching you’ve done so far is useless. The next step is to preload your cache, this means that you’re going to ask WordPress to preload every page and write files for them. Since it takes a bit of time, you don’t want to have to do it very often.
This is one of those points that people are free to argue with me, I cache my pages every 6,000 minutes. That’s every 100 hours which you might think is insane so feel free to set the value to any number you’d like. Just remember that if you set it for every minute, your website will rebuild every minute for no reason.
Next, we’ll set Compression to Enabled. This means all your files will be ZIP’d into nifty little packages for people to download even faster.
That’s it, you’re free to try different combinations but these settings let me deliver 750,000 pages to users every month on hosts such as Bluehost for as little at $7 per month.