If you want your website to as load quickly as possible then one of your best options is to install a caching plugin. The reality is that if your site takes a long time – even a few seconds – to load, your visitors are much less likely to stay on your site or make a return visit. Furthermore, search engines like Google now use site speed as part of their algorithms to determine where to rank your content in their results pages.
As if that wasn’t enough, conversion goals – whether that’s selling a product, signing up new members, or simply growing your email list – are negatively affected by a slow loading a website. This could in turn mean all of your hard work going to waste.
In short a slow website will make it harder for people to find your site, reduce the amount of time they do spend on your site, and also harm your conversion rates.
So now that we know the downsides of a lack of speed, how can we go about fixing this important issue and making our websites more visible, user-friendly, and better at what they are supposed to do? Well, alongside switching to a faster web hosting service, one of the easiest and most effective ways to speed up a WordPress website is to install a caching plugin.
But what exactly does this mean and which WordPress caching plugin is the best? In this article, we will answer both questions to help you speed up your website.
Caching Put Simply
Put simply, a cache plugin helps improve your site load times. It does this by storing the data that is frequently used each time your site is loaded in a convenient place so that it can be retrieved quickly and easily when needed. By storing this data closer to home, instead of having to fetch it from all over the web and around the world, your site should become faster.
All websites, whatever the size or number of visitors you receive, can benefit from some type of caching plugin. Caching plugins are crucial for search engine optimization and ultimately helping improve site conversions. However, each plugin offers different options and configurations covering how and what they cache. This means you need to pick one that best suits your needs.
So what are the options for finding the best WordPress caching plugin?
My personal favorite cache plugin for WordPress is WP Rocket. This is a premium plugin with prices starting at $39 for one site. However, it is well worth paying for as it makes installing and using caching very easy and headache free. If you haven’t got much experience of caching or you just haven’t got the time to dedicate to learning the ins and outs and just want it all taken care of for you then WP Rocket is the plugin for you.
WP Rocket’s byline is ‘Thanks to our plugin, WordPress has never been so efficient’. This plugin indeed does have some impressive features to help increase your site speed.
With lazy loading enabled, the images only load as your visitors scroll down the page, keeping page loading times fast and efficient. Both of these features improve your page speed scores and improve your visitors’ experience on your site.
From a site owner’s point of view, WP Rocket is easy to install and takes little time to set up. After activating the plugin, in most cases you will be able to immediately see the speed of your site improve.
If you do need any assistance, the tech support on offer is also impressive. Although access to the help desk expires after a year, unless you choose to keep up the subscription.
The only downside to WP Rocket is that there are not as many advanced options to choose from when you are configuring the plugin, compared to some of the other solutions out there. However, the ease of use factor makes it hard to overlook for all but the most budget conscious WordPress site owners.
The best features of WP Rocket include:
- Simple setup
- Almost instant results
- Advanced options for more experienced users
- Lazy loading of images
- Support for content delivery networks
- Features for eCommerce stores
- Premium customer support
- Lots of online documentation
Pros: WP Rocket is very easy to set up and start using on your site. You will probably see an improvement in site speed right away.
Cons: There’s no free option for WP Rocket so you can’t try before you buy (although there is a money back offer). While there are some advanced options and settings, it doesn’t compete with the complexity of options like WP Super Cache or W3 Total Cache.
Price: from $39 for use on one site
If you want to speed up your WordPress website in just a few clicks by enabling caching and don’t mind paying for the privilege, WP Rocket is probably your best bet.
Another great WordPress plugin that is easy to use is ZenCache. This plugin is free at its most basic level and so is a good option for those wanting to save time and effort as well money. However, if you want similar features to WP Rocket then you will need to upgrade to the pro version. This can be purchased for the same price as WP Rocket, $39, although you do get 3 years of customer support as opposed to one.
One of the options provided in the pro version is specifically for WordPress membership sites. This means you get caching for your members who are logged into your site.
Without this option, once people have logged into your site their experience might consist of slower load times. Therefore, ZenCache Pro enables your site to work quickly and load efficiently for non-members and members alike, a must for many types of site.
Zen Cache also boasts a very easy and simple start up process. You just upload the plugin and then with a few button clicks caching is enabled and you’re ready to go. However, this does mean that you have minimal control over the options for caching.
If you have the time or enjoy tinkering with your site yourself and like digging deep into the settings and options, then maybe a different caching solution might be for you.
Some of the best features of ZenCache include:
- Free entry level option
- Quick and easy setup
- File compression
- Caching for logged in users and members
- Popular content delivery network support
- Extra support for membership sites
- 3 years of premium support for commercial users
Pros: This is another easy to setup caching plugin without too many advanced options. The free version gives you a good opportunity to try before you buy, with the option of upgrading in the future.
Cons: Might be lacking in settings for some power users, but there is always the option to upgrade to the commercial version. The user interface isn’t the best looking either.
Price: free or $39 for access to the single-site pro version
The free version of ZenCache should give your site a much-needed speed boost and if you need more performance down the line, there is always the pro version to turn to.
W3 Total Cache
W3 Total Cache is a free WordPress plugin that is without a doubt the best option for those wanting total control over how their site and its content is cached. However, be warned, it is not for beginners and if you don’t have any experience or understanding of caching before you start using W3 Total Cache you may end up doing more harm than good. So remember to backup your WordPress website before you start!
That said, this is an impressive plugin with extensive customization options that many people more than appreciate and enjoy using. W3 Total Cache promotes benefits of at least a 10x improvement on overall site improvement and speed. It’s easy to see why it has over 1 million downloads and recommendations from sites like Pagely, HostGator, and Yoast.com.
Although W3 Total Cache has been designed for all types of website, it is actually a great choice for larger sites. It can maintain fast loading times even at high traffic periods, making it a good option for sites that experience large volumes of visitors at unexpected moments or at certain times of the day.
This all combines to help visitors enjoy your site, even at its busiest times, decreasing bounce rates, working to improve search engine rankings, and hopefully increasing goal conversion rates.
Some of the best features of W3 Total Cache include:
- Free to use
- Easy to enable default mode
- Premium support add-ons available
- Wealth of settings and options on offer
- Very popular plugin with high user rating
- Potential 10x speed increase
- Reported 80% bandwidth savings
- Minification and compression of files
- Support for the most popular content delivery networks
- Recommended and used by tops web hosts and companies
Pros: W3 Total Cache is the power user’s dream in terms of the number of settings and options on offer. If you want full control over your caching plugin in order to get the best results, this could be the one for you. If you need help, you can purchase access to the support staff on a one-off basis.
Cons: Maybe too many settings and options for those new to caching.
Price: free or $99 pro version
You can save yourself a lot of time by reading our guide to using W3 Total Cache to speed up a WordPress website.
W3 Total Cache does come with a simple one click set up. However, if you want to get the most out of this plugin you really need to take your time and read the 16 pages of options to configure the caching that best suits your site’s needs. If that sounds appealing, then W3 Total Cache could be for you.
WP Super Cache
If you are after a free plugin but one that is just that bit simpler and easier to use, then may be just what you are looking for. It has fewer options and settings compared to W3 Total Cache, yet still offers an impressive free service.
WP Super Cache is the most popular cache plugin out there at the moment for WordPress users. It works by showing static files to 99% of your visitors. It does this by using mod rewrite or PHP. For the 1% of users that are known to the website, the plugin uses legacy caching. Therefore, this is another plugin that is a good option for membership sites. The recommended settings for this are also simple and easy to configure and set up.
Some of the best features of WP Super Cache include:
- Free to use
- Impressive amount of configuration options
- Good feedback from its large user base
- Minification and compression of files
- Support for the most popular content delivery networks
Pros: A very popular tried and tested free WordPress caching that has lots of configuration options. This helps make it a good choice for a wide range of website types.
Cons: Like W3 Total Cache it might be a bit too complicated for some users and with no commercial version, there’s no premium support service to turn to.
WP Super Cache is easy to install with the whole user experience being very friendly and clear. Yet this plugin’s options for configuration are in no way basic. Whilst it is not as feature rich as W3 Total Cache, it definitely provides more than enough options to deliver impressive results of speed and search engine optimization.
Cache Enabler is the new kid on the block in the world of WordPress caching plugins. However, as it’s been created by the KeyCDN team – experts at optimizing websites for faster loading times – it’s safe to say it’s a plugin that can be trusted with improving your site.
If you are looking for a lightweight caching plugin for WordPress then this could be the one for you. Cache Enabler works simply by converting your dynamic site into static HTML files.
These files are then stored on your server for fast and easy retrieval – there’s no more back and forth between databases and different servers as plugins, the WordPress software, and other files are tracked down and loaded.
Cache Enabler boasts a quick and easy setup process, giving you the option of enabling caching for your WordPress website in no time at all. The plugin will take care of automated clearing of the cache when necessary, although you are free to manually carry out this task as and when needed.
Some of the best features of Cache Enabler include:
- Free to use
- Built by an experienced website performance optimization team
- Lightweight installation and footprint
- Content delivery network support
- Quick and painless setup process
Pros: Cache Enabler aims to be the lightweight choice for those who want a free and easy caching solution for their WordPress website. Cache Enabler has been built by the KeyCDN team, so it’s from a trusted source.
Cons: Its a relatively new and little-used plugin so lacking the revisions and improvements of some of the more established free options.
Cache Enabler is an exciting new option to consider if you want to make your WordPress website faster.
There are a lot of things you can do to optimize the speed of your WordPress website. However installing a cache plugin is the one most effective things you can do to make a difference to your page loading times. Especially when you consider how little investment of time or money is required.
All of the plugins mentioned above work well and are viable options. To choose which solution is right for you, it simply depends on which one best fits your technical knowledge and the amount of time and money you have to invest. Whichever one you pick will improve your visitors’ experience on your site, so have a look at the options and then install a caching plugin today.
When did you last check the speed of your website? What have you done to improve loading times? Which caching plugin do you think is the best option for your WordPress website? Please share your comments in the discussion below.