Last Updated on May 3, 2022 by WP Knowledge Hub
If you are looking for a way to speed up your WordPress website, and you came upon the term “caching” or “caching plugin” as a suggestion to improve your page speed, you need to keep reading! Caching can help you speed up your WordPress website and boost performance, but it can also cause issues sometimes, and it’s good to be aware of that.
Before you understand if you need a caching plugin or other caching solution, you should understand what caching is.
What is a Cache?
In a cache, data is temporarily stored for rapid access when it’s needed. So, in the layman’s terms, the cache is a kind of quick-access memory.
When a user visits a website, the server (basically a computer), has to load all that information and serve it to them. This can take a while, which is why caching was invented as a way to improve this constant process.
Caching helps by processing the frequently requested information and then storing it in a kind of temporary storage. The most common form of caching is browser caching. On Chrome of Firefox, or other popular browsers, when a user visits a site once, the browser saves a quick copy of it in its ‘memory’ called a cache. When the user returns, it remembers some aspects of the website and is able to load these a bit faster.
The same basic concept can also be applied by WordPress plugins to improve your website’s performance and make it load faster for everyone, all the time.
WordPress is a very big and heavy Content Management System, so every time a user visits your site, it will have to load a ton of stuff, through a series of steps. This can make your website slow to load. By using caching plugins, you can skip some of these steps and help your users get access to the content they want sooner.
Why Caching is Important for SEO
Caching is important to SEO because a better website experience improves user engagement and encourages them to visit more pages, or come back more often. This is a great signal for search engines, because it shows that you have a good website that users want to browse.
This will in turn help boost your rankings and get you more organic traffic.
What’s The Best Caching Plugin for WordPress?
WP Fastest Cache
With over 1 million downloads, and 61,000 paid users, the results speak for themselves. Many WordPress users consider this to be the best caching plugin. When a user loads your web page, your server (host) requires the use of memory and processing power. When many users visit your site simultaneously, your server will require a large amount of RAM and CPU, which could cause your website to load slowly. Having a great caching plugin like WP Fastest Cache is great, since the plugin generates a static HTML file and serves it to returning visitors to optimize loading speeds.
Additionally, this helps your site speed, which is used by Google’s ranking algorithm, therefore caching plugins like this one can improve your SEO efforts.
Setting up this plugin is so easy! You won’t need to modify the .htaccess file or understand any coding stuff. It will be done for you!
WP Rocket is another contender for best WordPress caching plugin on the market. It is one of the easiest and most user-friendly caching plugins, which helps a lot if you don’t understand the technical terms.
It allows users to instantly setup caching on their website with a single click. What’s great about this particular plugin is that its crawler automatically fetches your WordPress pages to build the static files. The plugin then sets up the recommended WordPress caching settings like gzip compression, leverage browser caching, and pre-loading.
WP Super Cache is a major player in the popular WordPress caching plugin category. It is free and is recommended by many of the big WordPress hosting companies, and WordPress.org itself!
WP Super Cache plugin comes with all the recommended caching features that are needed to speed up a WordPress website.
Since it has a ton of comprehensive settings, it’s not the easiest caching plugins to use, but it does allow for more flexibility.
W3 Total Cache might be THE most popular WordPress caching plugin. It is a full-scale, thorough WordPress caching plugin with tons of awesome features. Although it is very complex, it’s not the easiest to setup and use, and usually requires a setup guide, especially for caching newbies.
For more information on this plugin, see out detailed guide on how to setup W3 Total cache.
The LiteSpeed Cache plugin is very advanced. It’s a developer-level plugin that has a high-learning curve in order to take full advantage of its features.
That being said, LiteSpeed Cache is known for being one of the best plugin available today for caching WordPress websites.
There are definitely some easier to manage plugin options out there, but if you want professional, developer-level caching, LiteSpeed is the plugin you need.
While Cloudflare does have a free plugin in the WordPress plugin directory, it’s not a caching plugin by default. Cloudflare is a Content Delivery Network (CDN), that stores copies of your website on a series of servers around the world. It’s more of a caching network, than a simple caching solution.
Cloudflare acts as a kind of middle-man between your domain and your host, and re-routes your website through it’s network, increasing the website speed and performance while doing it.
For more information on how to add your WordPress website to the Cloudflare network, see this guide.
Hosting Company Caching
Caching will help hosting companies reduce the load on their servers allowing them to perform better. This is turn will allow them to grow their client base through good reviews. This is why many managed WordPress hosting companies now offer their own built-in caching solutions.
GoDaddy, for example, has a managed WordPress hosting account, which takes away your cPanel access, but let’s you manage your WordPress more easily. This also allows you to take advantage of their built in cache. There are many other hosts who also offer solutions just like this one.
WordPress Caching Plugins Potential Problems
It’s important to know that simply installing a WordPress caching plugin is not the end-all-be-all of speed problems, and can actually create more problems if not configured properly.
Most caching plugins offer you the ability to minify your JS, CSS and HTML files, meaning they compress the files to make them smaller.
In some cases, this significantly increases your website speed. But in other cases, it can totally crash your website, and you might lose access to the WordPress interface (known as the White Screen of Death) unless you know how to retrieve it by troubleshooting using an FTP client.
Some caching settings, such as Object Caching or Database Caching might also actually SLOW DOWN your website if not setup correctly.
Before choosing a caching plugin, make sure you research it carefully and understand the risks involved, and read the setup guides to configure it properly on your website.
It’s also important to note that you should never use more than one caching plugin on your WordPress website at the same time!