Without massive computing powers, a WordPress-based site with sizable amount of traffic can get slow. With shared hosting, even moderate traffic can slow down your site.
The easiest way to improve WordPress’ speed — on shared hosting or otherwise — is to use a caching plugin. When I first encountered the concept of caching and its plugins, I was kind of intimidated. Maybe because I started with a complicated plugin with a gazillion options. But once I got to know caching, it’s pretty simple — especially with WP Super Cache.
WP Super Cache (WSC) will take HTML snapshots of your pages and serve the snapshots to visitors. Serving HTML snapshots requires significantly less processing power than serving dynamic pages.
Most WordPress-based sites can start serving static HTML instead of dynamic pages without impacting the functionality of the site. So, let’s start.
Install WSC. Now go to the plugin’s admin page. When you go to WSC’s admin page, you maybe greeted by some ugly, yellow, rectangular boxes, and stuff. Don’t worry, they’re harmless. Read them, gather what you will, and move on.
First, turn caching on and click “Update Status >>”
Hmmm, that’s it. Now you have a fast site! But there are more easy things we can do to further improve caching and the speed of your site.
Recommended Advanced Settings of WP Super Cache
Go to “Advanced” tab. Checkmark the settings that say “(Recommended)” but instead of “Use mod_rewrite to serve cache files.” check “Use PHP to serve cache files.”
Speed Up Your Site in the Eyes of Google
Everything else held equal, Google favors the faster site. So, what I’m about to show you is good for your Google ranking. Actually, it’ll also provide better experience to your human visitors.
WP Super Cache does not automatically create an HTML snapshot of every page on your site. It waits for the page to be visited by someone first and then it creates the snapshot. So, if you have a page that only gets a couple of visits a day or so, those couple of visitors will not experience any improved speeds because every time WP Super Cache creates a snapshot, it’ll expire before the page is visited again.
If you want to make sure that only fast snapshots are served to all of your visitors and search bots, you gotta use the Preload feature of WP Super Cache. This feature periodically creates snapshots of your entire site and serves those snapshots to visitors. It’s a no-brainer to setup, too.
Choose your settings like the screenshot above and click “Update Settings.” You’ll have a brand new snapshot of your site created every 1440 minute (which is 24 hours).
And That’s Totally It!
The tips above will substantially improve the speed of your site. I’d say this gives you the 80% of the possible improvements. There are still a few things you can do to go the remaining 20%. Read on.
“I’m a who loves speed. I want more and more speed!!”
“What happens when I edit an old page or get comments?”
WP Super Cache is smart. When a new comment is posted or you update an old page, it’ll immediately take a new snapshot of the page — there won’t be no delay.
“But I got lots of dynamic content !!”
If your site contains dynamic content, like maybe you greet visitors based on referring site or you have a sidebar widget that continually updates based on incoming search keywords or something, then you have to perform extra configurations on your site to make sure the dynamic parts are served correctly despite caching.
The developer of WP Super Cache provides a user-friendly guide for this. Check out the section for “How do I make certain parts of the page stay dynamic?” here.
As far as caching and other obvious improvements to page speed in WordPress, that was all of it. If you want speed beyond caching, check out the Quest for Speed guide.
For more WordPress optimization tips from WinkPress, checkout these links: