As your WordPress website grows, with the publication of new content and the installation of additional plugins, it will, unfortunately, start to slow down. Even a fresh installation of WordPress can suffer from poor performance during spikes of high traffic or if you’re using a low-quality web host.
When it comes to page speed and loading times, an improvement of just a single second can have huge implications for your bottom line. For example, back in 2012, Amazon estimated that if their website loaded just one second slower it would cost them $1.6 billion in sales; and this number has surely only increased since then.
You’re probably not operating quite on Amazon’s scale, but slow loading times are still costly. According to Kissmetrics, 40% of your visitors will lose patience and leave your site if your pages take more than three seconds to load. A single second of delay can reduce your conversions by 7%.
Even if you’re not selling anything from your site, you probably have some goal in mind. Whether that goal is more email subscribers, more social shares, or just more page views and discussion, slow loading times will hurt your goal conversion rates.
Furthermore, Google uses page speed as a factor when determining where to rank your content in its search engine results pages. So, if you want greater search engine visibility and more traffic from sites like Google, you need to speed up your website.
No matter the purpose of your website – whether it’s to promote products and services or simply build an audience – higher bounce rates, reduced conversion rates, and decreased search engine rankings hurt.
In short, caching plugins help WordPress work more efficiently. By default, each time a page on your WordPress website is accessed by a visitor, the content is generated dynamically with lots going on in the background, including multiple database queries and code executions.
A caching plugin will create a static version of your content, removing many of the steps that take place when a page is generated dynamically. The result of this is faster loading times and happier visitors.
Therefore, if you want to improve your site’s SEO, increase its conversion rates, and offer your visitors a more enjoyable user experience, installing a caching plugin is a quick and effective way to do so.
There are countless free and commercial WordPress caching plugins available. However, to make the comparison more manageable, only the top 8 best WordPress caching plugins were selected.
Only free plugins with a user review rating of at least four stars out of five at the WordPress Plugin Directory, which had also been updated within the last two years, made the final list. Commercial plugins that appeared to have a positive reputation and decent feature set were also included.
When selecting the plugins for this comparison, we looked for options that were easy to setup and offered speed improvements in just a few clicks, rather than requiring advanced configuration. If you have the time and abilities, then it’s possible you could configure these caching plugins for your website’s specific setup and get better results, or find more advanced alternatives not included in this collection. However, for the purposes of this comparison we were looking for the fastest plug and play options.
Here are some of the best Cache Plugins for your WordPress website:
1. W3 Total Cache
W3 Total Cache is one of the most popular caching plugins for WordPress, with over a million active installs and 4.3 out of 5 stars in the WordPress Plugin Directory. It’s updated every few months and used by many major publications, such as Smashing Magazine, Mashable, MakeUseOf, Web Designer Depot, and many others.
2. WP Super Cache
Another highly popular free WordPress caching plugin, WP Super Cache earned its place in our guide to the best WordPress caching plugins as it has over a million active installs and a user rating of 4.2 out of 5 stars. It’s especially effective at keeping your server from slowing to a crawl or even overloading during the large traffic spikes that can occur if your blog hits the homepage on Reddit or is featured on other popular sites.
3. WP Rocket
WP Rocket is the most popular premium option in our comparison of the best WordPress caching plugins. It consistently scores well in side-by-side comparisons with other caching plugins for WordPress and is currently installed on over 100,000 sites. A single-site license costs $49, a three-site license $99, and an unlimited license can be yours for $249.
4. WP Fastest Cache
WP Fastest Cache is similar to many other caching plugins, but with fewer customization options it’s easier for the average user to get to grips with. It’s updated often and is rated 4.8 out of 5 stars on the WordPress Plugin Directory. There are over 100,000 active installs of WP Fastest Cache.
5. Hyper Cache
Hyper Cache is a PHP caching plugin that works on any WordPress blog and does not require complex configuration. It has separate caches for desktop and mobile users, and an extra feature that allows it to cache efficiently even on sites with very active user commenting and discussion participation – something which is known to trip up other caching plugins. It scores 4.5 out of 5 stars and there are over 50,000 active installs according to the WordPres Plugin Directory stats.
So, it’s easy to test how different plugins affect the speed of your site using a combination of GTmetrix, Pingdom, and Google PageSpeed Insights. Simply install the plugins you are considering, then activate them one at a time, configure them if needed, and run your website through the various testing tools, taking note of the results.