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Excessive page load times can be incredibly limiting to your site traffic and your SEO rankings. Luckily there is an easy way to improve this for WordPress sites.
Cache plugins are used to help WordPress work more efficiently, instead of dynamically loading pages each time they’re accessed by a visitor it directs them to a static version of your content served from the cache. This lowers both loading time and strain on your server.
How does this affect my SEO?
Fast websites create happy visitors. As such, site speed is used in Google’s search ranking algorithm. Users are more likely to spend a longer time exploring sites that load quickly, and less likely to bounce off. So cache plugins that can improve your page load time will also improve your SEO ranking.
Choosing the best plugin
When it comes to choosing the right plugin for your site, WP rocket is often hailed as the best choice, and research shows it does do the best job of reducing page load time. However, for sites with lower traffic free alternatives can be just as effective.
W3 Cache has vast customisation options, which can be used to tailor a caching solution to your specifications. However, for beginners, these advanced options can become daunting, which is why they also include a one-click setup. Similarly, WP Rocket also has a large array of settings which allow the user as much customisation as they need. WP Super Cache has a few basic options-which is perfect for a quick set up, However can be limiting.
Cache plugins can also reduce site load time by decreasing the size and number of CSS and JS files. This is called minification and can also be used to remove unnecessary data from files which can improve page load speed and again help to boost your ranking. WP Rocket, WP Fastest Cache and W3 Total Cache all offer minification, whereas WP Super Cache does not.
Updates and Support
WP Rocket, Fastest Cache and Super Cache are all tested with the latest version of WordPress (4.8.2) and have all received updates in the past two weeks. However this is where W3 Total Cache falls behind, the last update it received was 6 months ago and it is only tested up to WordPress 4.7.6.
When pagespeed was tested before and after using the caching plugins, WP Rocket made the biggest average reduction in load time, With WP Fastest Cache and WP Super Cache following closely behind.
|Before using plugin||W3 Total Cache||WP Super Cache||WP Fastest Cache||WP Rocket|
|Average load time (s)||2.5||2.3||2.06||2.06||1.90|
WP Rocket is the clear leader in most categories, However for sites with less traffic using a free plugin is an equally valid option, With WP Super Cache likely being the best option due to being compatible with most themes and plugins and the support that comes alongside it.
Whichever plugin you choose, It is definitely worth using a cache plugin, as any improvement to load time can boost your SEO ranking.