Quick SEO tips #5: Speed up your website with a WordPress caching plugin
A caching plugin is a real no-brainer. Here I’ll review your best options for a WordPress site, but first I’ll explain why you need a caching plugin and what it will do for your site.
Websites have to carry a heavy load.
And browsers have to load all this every time they display a page.
All of this content and dynamic content (text, images, videos, products) is vulnerable to lead to a slow-loading website.
And Google hates that.
“No matter what, faster is better and less is more.”
Improving your site’s loading speed will deliver immediate benefits that include better SEO ranking, improved user experience, and better conversions.
The good news is that most of the heavy lifting in handling your website’s load can be dealt with by a simple caching plugin.
How WordPress Caching Plugins Work
Every time your site loads there’s a lot of frantic scrabbling going on in the browser background as requests are pinged back and forth to your site’s database.
These requests (or queries) get sent in a PHP language and the information retrieved is generated as an HTML page.
This multi-step process takes a lot of processing, and this is why it can take a while for the information to load properly on your site.
What caching does is allow important data to be stored in an accessible spot so that it can be more easily and quickly served up to visitors every time they need it.
In essence, caching creates a static version of your content that eliminates the need to retrieve a lot of the information required.
And this significantly improves your site’s performance and page speed.
How page speed affects your site
Just to drill a little deeper – in case it’s not already patently clear – why you need a site with a fast page speed, here’s the belt and braces.
Page speed is a major ranking signal for SEO: take it from the horse’s mouth (The Big GG).
Fast loading sites:
- Are easier to crawl
- Have higher conversion rates
- Have lower bounce rates, dwell time and pages per visit
- Improve general user experience
Better loading speeds positively affect the user experience – in terms of less site abandons, longer visits, more page views and much better conversion rates (whether for purchase or sign-up).
In addition, slow loading times will have a negative effect on your brand’s reputation.
A bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who enter a website and then leave before viewing another page.
According to Google:
- Up to 3 seconds of load time increase the bounce rate probability by 32%
- Up to 5 seconds of load time increase the bounce rate probability by 90%
- Up to 6 seconds of seconds load time increase the bounce rate probability by 106%
- Up to 10 seconds of seconds load time increase the bounce rate probability by 123%
This means, in plain English, that the longer it takes for the landing page of your website to load, the less likely it is for users to stay.
Your slow loading pages are costing you money: better speeds yield better conversion rates.
- Pages that loaded in 2.4 seconds have a 1.9% conversion rate
- At 3.3 seconds, the conversion rate is 1.5%
- At 4.2 seconds, the conversion rate is less than 1%
- At 5.7+ seconds, the conversion rate is 0.6%
The best WordPress caching plugins that I’d recommend
W3 Total Cache
In terms of functionality options, W3 Total Cache is hard to beat. In addition to page caching it also supports minification, opcode cache, database cache, object cache, browser cache, CDN integration and fragment cache.
However, this punch that it packs also makes it by far the toughest to configure and set up.
Not for starters but great for experienced users.
WP Fastest Cache
WP Fastest Cache is much simpler to use and still gives you some options beyond just page caching, such as minification, concatenation, GZIP compression, browser caching and a rather handy feature called cache preload –that lets you create a cache without waiting for the first visit.
WP Super Cache
WP Super Cache reassuringly comes from Automattic, the same team behind WordPress.com and Jetpack. And it does nit disappoint. It is so simple to use – you can simply flick a switch to turn on the caching functionality and leave it at that. But, if you want to go deeper you can exclude specific content from being cached, integrate with a CDN, enable cache preloading, add browser caching and more.
If you are just starting off you can’t go far wrong with the simplicity and effectiveness of reducing page load speed that both Fastest Cache and Super Cache offer.
Get one installed today.