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What is website caching and why should you use it?

Web caching is an amazing technology that every website should be using in one form or another, at least that’s what we think here at Hugoton Hosting! Web caching speeds up site loading times to end users which not only increased user satisfaction, as let’s face it – who likes to wait for a page to load?, but can also lead to increased SEO scores.

Faster loading times can also lead to better conversions for your e-commerce website, which then increases your income from online sales! In this blog post, we will cover exactly what web caching is and of course how you can implement caching on your WordPress site within minutes.

 

What Is Caching?

Caching is a complex technology with many vendors competing in its space, in its simplest form it reduces the content size of your website allowing it to load quicker within your visitors’ browser.

Your website is requested hundreds of times a day (hopefully even thousands!), every time a request happens the web server you host on has to generate all of the page content from scratch (remember this includes headers, footers, and menus as well as the main page content). However, in 99% of these page requests the content that is generated is exactly the same. Wouldn’t it be great to relieve your web server from having to perform this ‘ground up’ generation of page content on every request …. hello caching.

 

How Does It Work?

Caching takes a ‘snapshot’ of the page and delivers this snapshot (usually from RAM memory on the web host versus disk) instead of the generated page content mentioned above for requests of the same nature. As you can imagine, this is far quicker and therefore your visitor sees your page content load in a fraction of the time it takes without caching being implemented.

 

What Do I Do When I Add Or Change Content?

Don’t worry, caching plugins today take notice when you add, remove or change content on your website and automatically create a new cache version of the page to ensure the next visitors see your latest edits.

 

Is It Really Worth It?

Absolutely, yes. A website will typically load 150-200% faster after caching is installed! There are 2 distinct types of caching to achieve this result, browser caching and server-side caching, we’ll cover those later in this blog post. A great website to use to check the effectiveness of installing caching is Pingdom Speed Test – we’re rated an “A” there (https://tools.pingdom.com/#!/c9tvGM/https://hugotonhosting.co.uk) as we use caching and other forms of page loading optimisation such as CDN (lookout for more blog posts on those soon).

 

Browser Caching

Let’s move onto the 2 types of caching which we mentioned earlier. When a visitor visits your website it’s not just the content they load, there are a number of dependencies to make your site load correctly, items such as javascript (JS) files, CSS stylesheets, and fonts all have to be downloaded and stored within your visitors’ web browser.

Browser caching ‘tells’ the browser which files to store locally so that next time the visitor loads a page on your website their browser uses its local copy of the aforementioned dependency files. Saving bandwidth and time!

Hugoton Hosting uses browser caching, so when you first landed here your browser will have downloaded a number of dependencies, when you refresh this page or take a look around our site however, your browser will use its local copy.

 

Server Side Caching

We spoke about server-side caching earlier, and how content is served from a ‘snapshot’ held in RAM. There are a couple of types of server-side caching, full page and object. The full-page caching option is the way to go here, object caching only caches certain components of your site such as the headers or footers. For optimal performance always opt for full page caching.

 

Okay, So How Do I Start Caching?

In this blog post, we focus on how to cache your website content via WordPress. Depending on your web hosting provider it may be possible to cache none WordPress websites also, if you choose Hugoton Hosting as your web host we can help you out with this for sure!

 

WordPress Cache Plugins

In our opinion the below 3 plugins are the best out there for caching your WordPress content, while there are hundreds more we believe the below providers have delivered caching capabilities in the best & most efficient way via their plugins:

  1. Swift Performance – $29.99 per year – https://swteplugins.com/product/swift-performance/
  2. WP Rocket – $39 per year – https://wp-rocket.me
  3. W3 Total Cache – free – https://wordpress.org/plugins/w3-total-cache/

 

I’ve Installed Caching What’s Next?

If you’ve installed one of the caching plugins from above then you will have no doubt noticed a performance boost when loading your website, nice work! If you want to see what else you can do to increase the loading time of your website even more then you should consider serving your content via a Content Delivery Network (CDN) and using content compression to reduce the size of those ‘dependency’ resources we mentioned earlier. We will have blog posts about both of these technologies very soon, so be sure to check back for those!

 

Conclusion

Caching speeds up your website loading times, with no detrimental effects. This can, in turn, increase user satisfaction and boost sales … it’s a no-brainer!

All of our web hosting packages at Hugoton Hosting support caching, unlike some mainstream providers (like GoDaddy) who actually block WordPress caching plugins from being installed.

If you aren’t already heading off to start caching your website get to it 😊