WordPress is one of the most popular platforms for writing, editing, managing, and publishing web content. To ensure you’re getting the most out of a WordPress site, you need to make sure that it’s set up correctly to provide both value to the visitor and also be in the best possible place for your optimization/conversion efforts.
It may be my personal, shared opinion, but from a user perspective, outside of malware, there is almost nothing worse than a slow loading site. Not popups, not sites that force you to log in using Facebook – nothing. Slow load times can frustrate casual visitors, potential customers, and Google’s spiders. Studies indicate that there’s about a four-second window in which a site needs to load and snag attention – or else visitors will simply leave. I would go further to infer that you may have even less time to impress a visitor. Does your header image take two seconds to load? You can kiss some amount of your visitors goodbye. Not only is a slow load time bad for human eyes, it’s also suicide for SEO, which take site speed into account.
To protect yourself from losing visitors and ranking clout, your load time needs to be at least on par with other popular sites. Fortunately, there’s quite a few WordPress plugins you can use to help speed up load time. Here are three of the best.
The Best WordPress Plugins for Slashing Load Time
WP Total Cache
At close to three million downloads with an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars, W3 Total Cache is indisputably a fan favorite. Why? The plugin’s developers say that W3 Total Cache is capable of accelerating your load speed by “at least 10 times,” and that you’ll save “about 80% of your bandwidth.” How? Since WordPress is a dynamic platform, when it generates files, it makes dynamic PHP files instead of static HTML files. This can be problematic, because extracting data from PHP files requires more work, which means slow load times. W3 Total Cache sidesteps this problem by caching the dynamic content in HTML files, which are simpler and speedier to access, leading to better load times for you – and your customers.
WordPress itself is a huge proponent of this particular plugin. Their own plugin directory says emphatically, “If you care about the speed of your site, Quick Cache is one of those plugins that you absolutely MUST have installed.” How does it work? First, Quick Cache takes snapshots of all your material (for example, posts and pages). Then, it stores (or caches) those snapshots for quick reference later on. Quick Cache boasts about 479,000 downloads, and enjoys a robust average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Hyper Cache Extended
According to WordPress, Hyper Cache Extended is “specifically written for people which have their blogs on low resources hosting provider (cpu and mysql).” Close to 34,000 people have downloaded Hyper Cache Extended so far, and on average it rates at a very positive 4.4 out of 5 stars. Some features that Hyper Cache Extended has to offer include: 404 caching, mobile access for blogs, redirects caching, autoclean system and compressed storage in the interest of saving disk space, and ease of both configuration and integration with other plugins.
These are just a few of the plugins WordPress has to offer: there are literally thousands at your disposal. For the health of your site, it’s a good idea to always be exploring – but these are a great place to start.
Emily Homrok is part of the content marketing team at Majux, an internet marketing company that provides post-design marketing services to attorneys and law firms.