We live in an instant gratification world, especially when it comes to digital content. The days of dialing up a modem are long gone (well, hopefully), and we have quickly gotten accustomed to the practice of loading a website in the palm of our hands on our Smartphones or laptops.
This makes site speed a huge factor when creating and hosting a website. If your website is taking too long to load, there is a good chance the reader will close out of your geriatric website and move onto the next one. A slow website should not be the reason you lose traffic, so what can you do to improve that?
Introducing… Website Caching
In this corner, weighing in at virtually nothing and as powerful as a locomotive is website caching.
(And the crowd goes wild!)
Except for you. Because you don’t know what website caching is, so you’re not using it.
What is Website Caching?
Website caching is defined by using a whole lot of IT jargon, so we will spare you those details and give you a real-life analogy of website caching.
Website caching is like taking a snapshot of your website and displaying it to a user when they visit your site. When a website is cached, the server will know that nothing has changed from the last time the website was updated until the moment a user is accessing it. Therefore, instead of going through the entire communication process on the server for a user to obtain your website information, the server will give the user the “cached” version of the website.
Cached websites will load faster without excluding any of the website’s information to the user viewing it.
What if I Update My Website?
The beauty of website caching is that it knows essentially when to show a user the cached version, and when to process the website on the server.
Therefore, caching will only occur in one of two ways: 1) Until the caching has timed out, or 2) When you update your website and a new version is available to cache.
Because you are responsible for hosting your website, you will need to enable server caching. Server caching is how your website will be quickly displayed to users when they gain access to your site.
If you are using WordPress, which we highly suggest you do, you can enable caching on WordPress dashboard. You will need to install one of the recommended website caching plug-ins supported on WordPress.
Do not install more than one server caching plug-in. More than one server caching plug-in can have the opposite effect and make your website slower instead of faster.
Our favorite caching plug-in is WPRocket. It’s a powerhouse and makes a difference.
What are the Advantages to Website Caching?
Of course you want to give your readers enjoyable content to read, but this only happens if your website can fully load in a reasonable amount of time. This makes the biggest advantage of website caching the ability to increase website load time.
Website caching can also save you money if you are paying for additional resources to increase your site speed. For example, let’s say you are using a shared host and your website load time is painful, so you decide to switch to a more expensive managed host. You may have been able to stay on the cheaper shared host simply by enabling website caching on your website server.
Another resource you may have purchased is a Content Delivery Network (CDN). While content delivery networks are a reliable means to making your website fast, you may have been able to solve the same problem by enabling website caching.
Do I Need Full-Page Caching or Object Caching?
This is a question you need to ask yourself, but we can guide you through explaining the difference between the two.
Full-page caching is exactly what it sounds like. It is website caching on the entire page of the website. This is typically the standard means of website caching. This method is effective and easy to enable.
Object caching is caching that only relates to saving a specific part of a webpage for future use. This may be a specific page or subpage of your website that will likely never change, yet will be accessed frequently.
If you have a page or subpage on your website that attracts more traffic than the rest, you may consider object caching this page of your website so that your website server does not lag. Creating cacheable files will increase the performance of your website and overall user experience.
The Bottom Line to Caching
Even if your website is not experiencing long load times or excessive lagging, you should implement website caching to optimize your site speed.
WordPress understands that caching is a resourceful feature in making your website load quicker, so there are many WordPress plug-ins to choose from when enabling caching on WordPress.
Website caching will either time-out on a user’s computer after a certain amount of time, giving the user the most recent version of the website to download upon arrival, or the caching will notice there is an update to the website and remove the previously cached content from displaying.
Additionally, the newly updated website will now be cached so that users will receive this content when visiting your website.
Website Caching: Sexy? No. Important? Yes.
Website caching is a great way to optimize your website speed and load times. Website caching can prevent you from having to purchase additional site speed resources, such as a managed host or content delivery network.
Website caching is easy to enable, especially through user-friendly content management systems, such as WordPress. Additionally, internet browsers, such as Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Mozilla Firefox will automatically cache websites that have caching enabled. This means the user is getting the fastest cached website possible through both the server and the browser caching.