Have you ever clicked on a website, waited and waited for what felt like eons, and clicked the back button out of frustration?
Sure, you have. We all have. That’s because there is very little that annoys site visitors more than a slow website.
And yet, many website owners seemed to have missed that memo and continue to serve up slow loading websites to the very people that make or break their business.
In the past, we have discussed some surefire ways for increasing your WordPress website speed. This included things such as:
- How important a good hosting provider is for site speed and performance
- How lightweight themes and plugins reduce server strain, and thus increase page speed
- That CDNs make delivering web content globally a cinch
- The importance of keeping your website updated at all times
- How minifying JS and CSS files make all the difference
- Why compressing images is one of the best steps you can take to increase site speed
However, there is one thing we focused on in that article that is the most important.
In fact, it is so important to website speed that I am willing to bet that if you failed to do any of the above-mentioned things to help your WordPress website’s speed, this one thing would still make a huge difference.
What am I talking about, you ask?
Using a caching plugin of course.
Today we are going to discuss what exactly caching is and why it is so important to your website’s speed and performance. We are also going to look at some free alternatives to the ever-popular premium caching plugin, WP Rocket.
Not to say WP Rocket isn’t worth its premium price, because it is. However, for those looking for a more budget-friendly caching solution, we’ve got you covered.
What is Caching?
A cache is a place where temporary data is stored as ready-to-go, readable content.
When your website is cached, this essentially means that your website’s pages, images, and files are stored in a temporary location for easy and fast delivery to anyone that clicks on your website.
Caching static data on your website, that is, data that rarely changes (such as already published posts) makes for faster page loading times.
This is because rather than go through the entire process of retrieving information from your web host using complex PHP scripts, accessing your MySQL database, and assembling the data into readable content, it is simply pulled from the temporary location and served up as is.
And in case you are wondering, this is exactly what a caching plugin does for your site’s data.
The Benefits of Using the WP Rocket Caching Plugin
WP Rocket is a premium WordPress caching plugin that makes configuration super easy (all it takes is a couple of clicks) and is extremely effective at reducing page load times.
WP Rocket pricing:
- $39 / year – 1 year of support and updates for 1 website
- $99 / year – 1 year of support and updates for 3 websites
- $199 / year – 1 year of support and updates for unlimited websites
Let’s take a look at some of WP Rocket’s very best features so you can understand why, despite its price tag, it still reigns as one of the most widely used caching plugins today:
- One-click activation. No coding knowledge is required. No extensive plugin configuration is needed. Simply turn the caching feature on and watch site speed soar.
- Cache Preloading. Rather than wait for a site visitor to visit your site and then cache that particular page, WP Rocket attempts to pre-cache all of your website’s posts and pages prior to anyone visiting.
- Lazy Loading. All images appear for site visitors as they scroll to minimize the loading strain.
- Browser Caching. WP Rocket stores JS, CSS, and site images in a visitor’s browser so as they explore your site, these items don’t need to reload if revisited.
- GZIP Compression. Save on your host bandwidth usage by enabling GZIP compression.
- eCommerce Friendly. WooCommerce, EDD, Jigoshop, iThemes Exchange, and WP-Shop users won’t have cached cart or checkout pages.
In addition, WP Rocket minifies and concatenates CSS and JS files, optimizes Google Fonts, and defers JS loading.
Plus, it is compatible with most CDNs, translation plugins, WordPress Multisite, and Yoast SEO/All in One SEO/Jetpack sitemaps.
In the end, this caching plugin offers all the features you could need to boost site speed, without all of the hassle of setting up, configuring, and caching via code.
It offers an easy way to handle all of the tasks needed to make your WordPress website fully optimized, and is highly recommended as the caching plugin to use.
4 Free Alternatives to Using WP Rocket
Despite WP Rocket being the best caching plugin solution on the market today, not everyone wants to spend money on a premium plugin to enjoy the benefits of site caching.
Take a look at the best (FREE!) WP Rocket alternatives and what they have to offer website owners such as yourself.
W3 Total Cache helps improve user experience, SEO rankings, and site performance by reducing download times using a variety of features.
Though not completely user-friendly (it has over 16 pages worth of configurations to mess with), it does provide you the ability to tailor your caching needs to suit your website.
- GZIP compression
- Minification and concatenation of HTML, CSS, and JS files
- Compatible with Cloudflare and other CDNs
- Works with all hosting types
- Mobile support
WP Super Cache is the perfect caching plugin for all levels. Generating static HTML files from your dynamic WordPress website files, you will always know your site visitors are receiving web content at lightning speeds.
Plus, there are very little configurations to get caught up in.
- CDN support
- Use mod_rewrite to deliver static pages
- Legacy caching mode to cache pages for logged in users
- Schedule cache deletions
- Enable preloading for posts, categories, and tags
WP Fastest Cache is another configuration-free caching plugin designed to make caching and speed improvements easy for all website owners.
That’s not to say it doesn’t have a boatload of features, however, like mod_rewrite, automatic cache deletion upon post or page publication, and cache timeouts for specific pages.
- Browser caching ability
- Enable feature for mobile users and those logged in
- GZIP compression and minification of HTML and CSS
- CDN ad SSL support
- Compatible with popular WordPress translation plugins
If you are currently using SiteGround as your WordPress hosting provider, or are considering making the switch, know that they offer an exclusive caching service for those using the GrowBig or GoGeek shared hosting plans.
In short, the SuperCacher service comes with 4 different caching options: Static Cache, Dynamic Cache, Memcached, and HHVM. Each have their own set of features, but all are designed to help increase the number of daily hits your website can handle, without sacrificing page loading speed.
- Easy cPanel access for enabling caching options
- Added caching layers increase page speed beyond what hosting services do
- 100 times more site hits with minimum server impact
- Layer caching options or enable just one, depending on your needs
- Achieve 4 times faster loading speeds
In addition to the above-mentioned free alternatives to using the premium WP Rocket caching plugin, I want to mention some other lesser-known, but just as effective, free WordPress caching plugins on the market today:
In the end, website speed is going to one of the greatest indications of whether you will be a success or not.
After all, no matter how great your content is, what type of products or services you have for sale, or how unique your niche is, if nobody stays on your website long enough to enjoy it, you will never reap any rewards.
Concentrating on website speed and performance does not need to be a long, drawn out hassle. In fact, simply adding a caching plugin to your WordPress toolset is enough to get you started in the right direction.
Again, if investing in a premium caching plugin is in your allotted budget, I highly recommend using WP Rocket. However, for those seeking a free alternative, there are plenty of high-quality plugins to choose from. So, pick one and get started!
Have you ever used WP Rocket or one of its free alternatives for caching on your WordPress website? Have I left a WordPress caching plugin off the list that you feel should be mentioned? I would love to hear all about it in the comments below!
Updated by Lisa.