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WP Rocket: Optimize Caching for Your WordPress Website

by Jason Unger, Founder

Your website’s speed matters.

Attention spans are shorter than ever, and thanks to high-speed Internet available in your pocket, we’re just not used to waiting.

At the same time, there’s more website bloat than ever before, with widgets and plugins and scripts and embeds slowing down load times.

As if that wasn’t enough, we know that speed is a ranking factor for search engine optimization (SEO), and the slower your site, the worse your search result rankings will be.

So, how can you best handle this situation?

Ideally, the best way to speed up your website is to go as minimalist as you can. But that’s not always possible, so strategies like website caching can help deliver your site faster to your audience.

Website Caching Fundamentals

Without getting too technical, website caching stores many (if not all) of the files used to make up a page on your site in a server’s cache – the temporary memory that computers use to quickly load often-used pieces of data – in order to speed up the delivery process when those files are requested.

Cloudflare explains it well:

Caching is the process of storing copies of files in a cache, or temporary storage location, so that they can be accessed more quickly. Technically, a cache is any temporary storage location for copies of files or data, but the term is often used in reference to Internet technologies. Web browsers cache HTML files, JavaScript, and images in order to load websites more quickly, while DNS servers cache DNS records for faster lookups and CDN servers cache content to reduce latency.

By storing files that are continuously requested in a cache, it makes it much easier to request those files without using as much bandwidth or as many processes.

Caching can occur in multiple places. Web servers have a cache; your computer has a cache; your browser definitely has a cache.

(If you’ve ever been told to clear your browser cache or do a hard refresh, you know exactly what I’m talking about.)

The biggest issue with caching is that when those cached files change, there’s always a chance that someone will see the outdated version of the file rather than the updated version. Hence, why you may hear you need to clear your cache or do a hard refresh.

WordPress Caching with WP Rocket

There are a number of WordPress plugins that add a layer of caching in WordPress itself, and after using many of them over the years, there’s only one caching plugin we recommend: WP Rocket.

What makes WP Rocket a winner is that it’s easy to setup, it’s easy to manage, and does the job well.

Every website we design and develop gets WP Rocket, along with the following settings:

  • Optimize, minify, and combine CSS files for improved performance
  • Minify JavaScript files for smaller file size
  • Defer JavaScript to eliminate render-blocking and improved load time
  • Enable LazyLoad for images to ensure they do not delay overall page load
  • Activate Preloading for cache generation based on sitemap and homepage

These are just the basics; there are a ton of options for tweaking the overall performance and caching of your website.

While WP Rocket is a premium plugin, we provide it for free to all of our Website Management clients. WP Rocket is also closely tied to Imagify, one of our recommended WordPress image plugins, as they’re built by the same company.

It’s also worth noting that WP Rocket is the only caching plugin allowed on WP Engine’s hosting; WP Engine is notorious for not letting overactive or resource-hogging plugins on their servers. This is also the case if said plugin duplicates a functionality WP Engine already has (like caching).

Optimizing Your Website’s Cache

If you’re running a number of plugins or have a bunch of third-party scripts on your website, you’re going to need to spend time tweaking your cache settings.

While it would be ideal to install and activate a plugin like WP Rocket and automatically get a perfect score on GTmetrix or Google’s PageSpeed Insights, you’ll likely need to make some adjustments to ensure that everything is working as it should be.

That certainly could include not using every single cache setting – and that’s OK. Your goal shouldn’t be to score 100 on an automated test; your goal is to make sure that your website is useful to your users and helps them achieve their goals.

Seriously. That’s what Google says.

WP Rocket is another tool in your arsenal to improve your site’s user experience.

Need help launching WP Rocket on your site or tweaking its settings? Reach out and let us know.

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About Jason Unger

Jason Unger is the Founder of Digital Ink. He built his first website on Geocities, and hasn't looked back since. Digital Ink tells stories for forward-thinking businesses, mission-driven organizations, and marketing and technology agencies in need of a creative and digital partner.

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