How To Leverage Browser Caching In WordPress To Improve Your Site Speed

If you are looking to optimize your WordPress blog, one of the first things you might consider is reducing the loading speed. You have probably read at least a few articles on optimizing websites for loading speed. While it is certainly true that you need to take into account factors such as content quality, titles, images and other such factors, one area that often gets overlooked is the effect that browser caching has on loading speed. Many people believe that they are doing all they can to optimize their website, but often overlook the role that cache hits play. Here’s how to take advantage of this important feature.

As stated before, WordPress has built in functionality to include a gzip compression plugin. If you are familiar with WordPress, you probably already know that there are a variety of different plug-ins that you can use to customize your theme. One of these plug-ins is the gzip compression plugin. So, now that you know this important functionality, how can you take advantage of it?

When your web browser looks for information in a flash, it’s called ‘caching’. This means that the browser has to repeatedly look for that information. Once the browser finds what it’s looking for, it essentially saves that page and continues to search through the cache to find more information. If the cache gets too big and fills up, your website will start to slow down. If the page doesn’t get saved, the next time someone loads the page, the entire cache will have to reload. This slows down your website’s loading speed.

WordPress uses two different methods to reduce the effect of cache-control: expiration header and last-modified header. The expiration header instructs the browser when to cache the page and when to remove it from the cache. It sets a time based on which the page is considered stale, or ‘about to expire’. Whenever anyone visits your site, WordPress processes the expires header and sets its expiration time. Whenever anyone visits after that time, they have to re-visit the page to see if it has been updated. The expiration date is only important for new content, not old content.

The last-modified header tells the browser when to update your page’s scoped, JavaScript, images, and other resources. These are not considered part of the original source code, but are scoped by the browser in an effort to maximize speed. Browser Caching also helps with downloading large files. This can be especially significant if your website includes a lot of media files, like videos. By minimizing browser cache-blocking, you will dramatically increase your website’s speed!

There’s actually a simple way to optimize your WordPress site for faster page loading: use a premium plugin called WP Rocket. This premium plugin offers two main benefits. First, it optimizes your entire website for better page speed. Second, it creates a cache of static resources which you don’t have to manually keep track of, freeing up memory and valuable CPU time.

How Does This Work? Basically, you take advantage of the browser’s cache, by pre-populating it with a list of static resources & scripts. This is done by creating a “static folder” in your cpanel, which you run PHP scripts from. When you visit your site, it looks for a particular folder that contains your static assets and finds them automatically. It then saves these assets to your local directory, via “htaccess”. So when someone visits your site, instead of having to look through hundreds of cache files, they just have to read one file, which is located in your local directory.

With this new optimized version of WordPress, I was able to see my site speed increase by 200% across the board. So if you’re using WordPress on a website with a slow server response time, or even if you’re just trying to keep your costs down, turn to WordPress’ advanced optimization options via access & safe. You’ll notice a huge difference in site speed, not only in response time but in terms of disk usage as well. It’s an incredibly easy & efficient way to optimize your blog and reduce costs as well. Hopefully this article has been helpful, and I wish you luck when optimizing your blog for the WordPress 3.0 design system.

Keith Rainz

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Along Kafue Road, Chilanga, Lusaka Zambia.

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