It’s a fact: slow websites lead to a loss of visitors, preventing you from converting those visitors to paying customers. Studies done by Akamai show that more and more consumers expect quick-loading sites – a recent study shows that 30% of all consumers expect page load times of one second or less, compared to a mere 5% of all consumers in 2009. What’s the primary consequence of slow load times? Loss of revenue – Akamai estimates that over $3 billion dollars of revenue are lost due to slow checkout pages.
One way to improve the performance of your server, speed up your website, and prevent any loss of visitors is to implement caching. Caching speeds up your site and reduces latency through temporary storage of frequently-accessed data. Repeatedly requesting files is slow and expensive in terms of resources. When that data is cached, end users are able to access it much more quickly. For a more detailed explanation on how and why caching is used, visit our Knowledge Base. There are many different methods of caching available, including third-party plugins, server-side caching, and in-browser caching.
Caching software is very effective at keeping your site loading super-fast when high traffic hits. Installing and using caching within your server can be complex, but our Heroic Support® team is experienced in setting up such software and making the process simple. We recommend a few different options for caching software, including:
- Varnish: a proxy and cache that improves the performance of busy, dynamic websites
- Memcached / Memcached with PHP: a distributed, high-performance in-memory caching system used to speed up sites that use databases
- Squid: a caching and forwarding web proxy
If you’re interested in learning more about these caching software, we have several Knowledge Base articles on how to install any of those solutions on a variety of operating systems.
Third-party caching plugins are easy to implement for customers with WordPress Hosting, but there are quite a few of them on the market. Our recommended plugins include WP Super Cache, W3 Total Cache, and WP-FFPC – read more about our top three recommended WordPress caching plugins in our previous post. In addition to caching, these plugins often offer a wide range of additional features to speed up your site by compressing data and moving it closer to your customers. Such features include:
- GZIP Compression: GZIP Compression remembers previously transferred content and works to find and replace any duplicates in a more efficient manner. This process works best on text-based content.
- CDNs: A CDN doesn’t speed up your server so much as physically move your content closer to your customers using a large distribution of servers deployed in multiple data centers across the world. So why is a content delivery network helpful integrated into a caching plugin? After speeding up your site with a caching plugin, you can use a CDN to decrease latency even further. Find out more about how CDNs operate in our quick video: CDN in 60 Seconds.
In-browser caching reduces server load and speeds up a website by reducing the number of requests per page. For mostly-static files within your website, you can set the correct file headers and instruct the browser to cache them. Those files will then stay on the user’s browser after they have been requested from the server once already. The browser will simply check to see if the cached files have changed instead of requesting them new every time. Check out our tutorial in our Knowledge Base to learn how to configure browser caching.
Each method offers it’s own advantages, but often it’s a combination of more than one method that is most effective at speeding up your server. Our Heroic Support® team is available 24/7/365 to answer any questions about which caching options might be best for you!