Your sites speed can have an important impact on SEO. If your site is slow it could have detrimental effect on your search rankings. More and more people are now using mobile devices to surf the web, you should therefore always consider optimising your sites speed and overall performance.

What is Caching?

An effective way of improving your sites speed is by using a caching plugin. A caching plugin aims to speed up your site by storing your sites dynamic content in static format. When someone visits your site, the static content is loaded, instead of using PHP to generate the page. This reduces the processing load on your server. Your pages are therefore served to your users faster, which improves your user’s browsing experience as well as your search engine rankings, which is a win-win situation.

WordPress Caching Plugins

There are a number of caching plugins out there including ones such as WP Rocket, W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache. In this post we will be covering WP Super Cache. WP Super Cache is a great free plugin and one that you can set-up in just 5 minutes. Who wants to be messing about and tweaking a load of settings, when you can use a plugin that you can easily set-up in a matter of minutes? At the time of writing, the plugin has had over 2 million installs so it’s a popular plugin used by many WordPress sites.

How to Install WP Super Cache

Before you install WP Super Cache, we first recommend that you test your site’s speed using either GTmetrix, Pingdom or PageSpeed Insights. Keep a note of the reading once you’ve performed the test, so you can then compare them against the ones taken after installing and configuring the plugin.

Let’s now move onto installing WP Super Cache (if you know how to install the plugin, you can move onto the set-up WP Supper Cache section):

Step 1: From the WordPress Dashboard, select Plugins > Add New.

WP Super Cache how to speed your website

Step 2: Enter into the search box WP Super Cache.

Step 3: WP Super Cache should be the first entry that appears, otherwise locate WP Super Cache by Automattic and click on Install Now and then Activate the plugin.

WP Super Cache how to speed your website

How to Set-Up WP Super Cache

Step 1: From the WordPress dashboard, go to Settings > WP Super Cache.

WP Super Cache how to speed your website

Step 2: Under the Easy tab, select Caching on (Recommended) which enables caching, and click on the Update Status button.

WP Super Cache how to speed your website

Step 3: Once caching has been enabled, we need to verify whether it’s working. In order to do this, click on the Test Cache button from the Easy Tab. The plugin will attempt to fetch your site twice and it then compares the timestamps. If the timestamp matches, it means the plugin is working. If there are no issues, you should see the following message “The timestamps on both pages match!”.

WP Super Cache how to speed your website

How to Set-Up WP Super Cache (Advanced Settings)

The plugin also allows you to also configure advanced settings. The settings will vary in regards to the theme and plugins you are using. Below are the advanced settings that we recommend that you use. After making these changes always test your site to ensure it loads correctly and there’s been no negative impact.

Step 1: click on the Advanced tab and enable the below settings as shown below:

WP Super Cache how to speed your website

For the Cache Delivery Method select Simple. Simple should be suitable for most sites. Simple is recommended for non-technical users.

Under the Miscellaneous section, enable the following:

Don’t cache pages for known users. Enable this option so that logged-in users such as administrators won’t see cached files. This means they will get to see the latest posts and pages.

Don’t cache pages with GET parameters. This won’t cache content where the content is different per each user such as

Compress pages so they’re served more quickly to visitors. It compresses and therefore reduces the size of HTML, Javascript and CSS files so that these cached files are shown to your readers more quickly.

Cache rebuild. Serve a SuperCache file to anonymous users while a new file is being generated. This means that a cached page will be shown if the file is currently being generated.

304 Not Modified browser caching. Indicates when a page has not been modified since it was last requested. 304 is a small header that indicates when a page has not been modified since it was last requested. If the page has not changed, it won’t need to send the whole page, therefore reducing bandwidth and CPU.

Under the Advanced section of the page, enable the following:

Mobile device support. (External plugin or theme required). If you use a plugin such as WordPress Mobile Edition or WPTouch) which converts your site into a mobile friendly one, then you can enable this option. If this option is enabled, it will create a separate mobile cache.

Clear all cache files when a post or page is published or updated. This clears the cache when new content is published to ensure your users don’t see stale content.

Extra homepage checks. This ensures that the newest posts are displayed on the homepage. This is important if your homepage shows your latest posts.

Only refresh current page when comments made. This ensures that the user sees the latest content if a comment is made.

List the newest cached pages on this page. This just shows which pages have been cached.

Step 2: Once you have made the necessary changes, click on the Update Status button.

Step 3: Near the bottom of the page, there’s the Expiry Time & Garbage Collection section. This is where you can specify how long a file should be cached for on your server before it gets recreated.

The default cache timeout value is 3600 seconds (60 minutes) which should be suitable for most sites. You could however reduce the duration if your site is updated very frequently throughout the day.

WP Super Cache how to speed your website

Step 4: In order to save the Expiry Time & Garbage Collection changes, click on the Change Expiration button.

Note:

If you make any changes to your site, in particular to your JavaScript or CSS files, and you’re seeing an old version of a page, you’ll need to delete the cache and refresh the page to the newest version.

Deleting the cache, can be performed from the Contents tab and clicking on the Delete Cache button.

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