OK, so this week here on the Virtual Earner Blog, I am discussing my “Need for Speed” project that I have been working on for a few weeks. Basically, this has been an attempt to recover from slipping AdSense earnings across my sites. By improving my scores on the Google Scorecard, I hope that my earnings will increase. Since my Google Scorecard indicates that my biggest problem is “Site Health” – mostly site speed – this is the area where I have been focusing my efforts.
On Monday, I started this series of articles by looking at the Google Scorecard and where I rank, and what I think I can do about it.
On Tuesday I focused on what actions I decided to take and mentioned that one of my first steps would be to look into setting up page caching on my various sites to see if that would help.
Today, in this article, I want to get into the nitty-gritty of setting up caching in WordPress.
I have tried using caching a few times in the past. I have never liked it though. Usually, it has ended up presenting problems. One time the caching caused all of my public pages to be a bunch of garbled gobbly gook. Nobody could read it. I cut that off as quickly as I could. Other times I have experienced other weirdness that happened because of caching.
I think that the biggest problem is that I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know how to properly implement the settings in the caching software. Because of my ignorance, the caching was very unsuccessful. This time, I decided to do more research and do some learning to see if I could implement the caching properly and get better results.
Choosing the software
The first challenge is that there are a number of caching plugins out there for use with WordPress. There are two VERY popular cache plugins, and there are literally dozens of others that are not as popular. I was open to trying anything, although I would tend to feel that the more popular a plugin is, the more support it has, the more users, and generally the more resources for help if needed.
The two super popular caching plugins are:
After doing a lot of research and reading different people’s opinions, I elected to go with WP Super Cache. I have two different hosting providers that I use for my servers. One of the hosts is ServInt, this one is for my large more popular sites, as the server that I am on is a large, resource rich and expensive machine. The other provider that I use is HostGator, which I use for my smaller sites. While HostGator is not perfect, I found that they recommend using WP Super Cache, and they have some pretty good instructions online on how to configure the caching. Because of this, I decided to go with that, since I do trust HostGator and feel that their instructions would be pretty reliable.
If you are interested in trying WP Super Cache and want to see how HostGator recommends that you configure it, check this article. When I set up WP Super Cache, I used the settings recommended, and they are working well for me.
How did it work?
Once I implemented the site caching, of course I was very interested to see how it worked! I went back to Pingdom and ran a test to see how much improvement I got. As I said previously, before caching, according to Pingdom, my sites were loading slower than 70% of tested sites. Not good.
Once I implemented the caching, my scores improved, but nowhere near what I was looking for. I started seeing scores saying that my sites were loading faster than 50% of sites tested, and sometimes up to 60% faster. While this is a fairly big improvement, I wanted better. Really, it was my goal to be in the 75th percentile or better, meaning that I loaded faster than 75% of sites tested. With that I figured that I would be satisfied.
On Pingdom, and using other site testing tools you can also get recommendations on what areas you need to work on to improve your scores. One thing that I found was that I was being told to “leverage browser caching”. Hmm.. how do you do that? Well, again it was time to do research and figure out how to leverage browser caching. I found a page that explains what to do! Check this page, and follow the instructions they give. In fact, that site, Feed the Bot has a LOT of great tips on how to speed up your site! Read it, study it, and test your site using their tips, I think you will be pleased.
Was I satisfied now?
Well, no, of course I was not satisfied! I wanted more speed. I only got minor improvements by leveraging browser caching, and I wanted to keep getting better. Even though the results were only marginal, I still recommend that you implement the Browser caching, why not?
In fact, on my next article, tomorrow, I am going to tell you about my further research and more ways I found to speed up my site. In fact, on Friday, I will be sharing something that will show you how I dramatically improved my site speed and how you can too! Best of all, it’s free. So, keep checking back this week, and you will learn some things, I promise that, especially if you are a newbie at this like I am.
Do you have a Need for Speed? If you have a website, I promise that you do!