The fastest and easiest way to optimize the speed of your WordPress site is to implement caching. Caching uses RAM to store frequently accessed pages of your site in cache memory on your server, shortening the time it takes to access those pages.
There are two types of caching you can leverage to improve your WordPress site performance:
- Browser caching
- Server caching
Let’s look at each briefly.
Web browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Microsoft Edge use memory on your computer to store data for pages you frequently access. Browser cache “remembers” the resources called by frequently accessed web pages to help those pages load faster when you visit. You can use the .htaccess file for your WordPress site to tell a user’s browser how to cache the pages on your site.
Investigate HTTP Cache-Control (specifically max-age) and Expires entries in .htaccess files to learn more about how to leverage browser caching. You can also use the Browser Cache settings in the W3 Total Cache plugin to do this for you. Read on to learn more.
Web server caching
Web server is especially important for high-traffic websites. Start by using a plugin such as W3 Total Cache Plugin for WordPress. That plugin alone will substantially improve performance.
How to install and configure the W3 Total Cache plugin
To install the W3 Total Cache Plugin, follow the instructions in the How to install plugins in WordPress knowledge base article.
NOTE: The free version of W3 Total Cache is a great way to start optimizing your site. If you have a very large or complex site, consider upgrading to Pro to gain access to more optimization options.
Configure basic settings for W3 Total Cache as follows:
- Once you’ve installed and activated the W3 Total Cache Plugin, look at the top navigation bar in your WP-Admin. You’ll see the Performance item has been added.
- Hover your mouse over the Performance link and click General Settings to open the W3 Total Cache general settings page.
- Configure the basic settings as shown in the following screenshots.
Note: Opcode Cache settings are not available in the free version of WP Total Cache.
Setting up page cache
Minify HTML, CSS, and JS feeds
Enable database caching
Configure object caching
Configure browser caching
Enable CDN (if used)
Set up Varnish for reverse proxy
Set up monitoring with New Relic (if used)
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