Nearly 80 percent of Americans now shop online. Even those who plan to shop in the store tend to research products and services on the internet before purchasing anything. For this reason, it is essential that every business owner operates a website. Nearly 75 billion business websites, personal websites and blogs use the WordPress platform, but because it is highly reliant on database queries and PHP, sites that run it may become slow. Luckily, there is a fix known as WordPress caching.
What Is Caching?
Simply put, WordPress caching is a process that makes your WordPress-based website load much faster. Each time someone visits a WordPress website, the core queries the database, which then provides the data the visitor requested. The core combines the data it retrieved and executes a PHP code that generates the HTML page. The visitor then sees the HTML page. WordPress caches the HTML websites and saves them to the server’s memory. From there, anyone who requests the page will receive the cached version. Because the site won’t need to query databases or execute PHP code, it will load much faster.
What Happens if the Page Information Changes?
Of course, websites don’t stay the same forever. Designs change, new articles get posted and readers comment. For this reason, certain activities trigger a purge of the cache. This means the previously saved page is deleted and replaced with a new version of the cache. Purging usually occurs each time the author publishes a new post or updates an old one as well as each time a reader leaves a comment.
Why Is Caching Important?
One of the most important reasons to cache your WordPress website is because of the benefits you’ll see on Google. The search engine loves fast websites and the faster yours is, the higher it will rank. Caching helps to determine the overall performance of your website and is a fundamental ranking factor regardless of how large your website is.
How Does Caching Work?
WordPress caching has two primary protocols available: client-side caching and server-side caching. When your site reuses cached data from your server, it is known as client-side caching. Most modern websites use this method because every browser supports it. Caching from the client’s side prevents the website from downloading the same data repeatedly, thereby saving time and server resources.
Server-side caching is a bit more complicated and involves four protocols: page caching, object-based caching, database query caching and opcode caching. Page caching is the simplest protocol and saves the dynamically generated HTML directly onto a server’s hard disk. Databases use a lot of resources and WordPress relies heavily on databases to operate. By saving the results of database queries and only updating when the website updates, precious resources remain available. Opcode caching is similar to database caching in that its goal is to reduce the number of database queries. However, this method saves the PHP code between requests rather than the database requests. Finally, there is object caching. This method is advanced and not used by most everyday users. It involves WordPress’ internal caching system and subsystems, which are controlled by plugins.
What Is the Most Effective Method of WordPress Caching?
Effective WordPress caching typically falls into the categories of time-based caching, action-based caching and manual caching. Time-based caching saves the website every few seconds, regardless of whether the website has been updated. However, this may negatively impact your website’s performance since most cache deletions would be unnecessary and lead to unnecessary database queries. You could alternatively set the time-based cache to occur every few minutes, hours or even once per week, but that means users would sometimes not see the most updated version of your website. Even so, caching every 24 hours is still a good option for sites that don’t use time-sensitive pages.
Most WordPress users choose to use action-based caching. This means your website would only purge and re-cache when you upload a new post, edit an old one, have a reader comment or something else on your site changes. This method is typically considered the most useful because it only queries databases when necessary and doesn’t pose the hazard of a visitor seeing an old version of the website.
Finally, you do have the option to clear your cache manually if necessary. However, this is rarely needed and typically not useful for everyday WordPress users.
How Do I Set Up Caching in WordPress?
If you are the type who prefers the do-it-yourself method, you can go into your WordPress settings and use a plugin to begin caching your site. However, if you aren’t very tech-savvy, the advanced settings can easily become confusing and you could end up doing more bad than good for your website. For this reason, most business owners decide to hire a professional company to help them optimize the speed of their website.
In addition to setting up WordPress caching, our website speed specialists offer a complete WordPress speed optimization service. Common options include the optimization of your databases, Google Fonts optimization, compacting and reducing your HTML and CSS files and tweaking the way your images load so that the initial website load is faster. If you use a shopping cart platform, these businesses can also help you improve their load times.
Should you decide to hire a WordPress specialist to help you keep your website up to speed, it is important to find one with experience and that offers a wide range of services. Check out Team WP Sekure to learn more about managing your WordPress website.