Speed Up Your Blog Using W3 Total Cache

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Keeping your site running fast is an ongoing task. It seems like once you’ve got it all figured out, something changes and you need to figure it out all over again.

Thankfully, you don’t have to work as hard to keep your site speed up to par, and it’s all thanks to caching plugins.

The caching plugin I use to keep my website running fast is the W3 Total Cache plugin.

In this post I’m going to share with you blogging tips that will improve your site speed.

1. Determine Your Site Speed

To get started, I want you to visit PageSpeed Insights and test your web page URL. Simply place your sites URL in the “Enter a web page URL” box and click on Analyze.

Once your site has been analyzed, you’ll see results for both the mobile and desktop version of your site. In this post, we’re going to focus on the desktop score. I find that once you’ve gotten your desktop issues in order, it usually improves your mobile speed too.

Now take a look at your desktop score. Here’s what my desktop score looked like before using the W3 Total Cache plugin:

before caching plugin

You want your score to be in the green. If it isn’t, lets see if we can work on getting it there using W3 Total Cache.

2. Why Your Site Speed Matters

If you’ve ever had to maneuver your way through a slow website, then you understand firsthand the importance of having a speedy blog or website. When someone visits your site, you only have a few seconds to hook them.

Think about how long you’re willing to stay on a slow website before you give up and leave. Not very long, right? If your site is moving slowly, I can guarantee that you’re losing valuable readers.

3. Why Use a Caching Plugin

A caching plugin works to reduce your sites loading time. It does this by temporarily storing your blog or website, which allows files to be served to your visitors much faster.

The settings I’ve chosen for W3 Total Cache are based on recommendations from my web host, and the settings that I’ve determined work best for my site.

*Before we get started, please note that if I don’t go over a specific setting, that means to leave it as default.

4. Install W3 Total Cache

w3 total cache

To start, make sure you have the W3 Total Cache plugin installed. You do this by going to Plugins > Add New in your wp-admin.

Search for, install, and active the plugin.

a. General Settings Tab

We’re going to start with the General Settings tab.

general settings tab

Page Cache

Enable Page Cache.

For the Page cache method, choose Disk: Enhanced.

Minify

Minify enables the compression of HTML, JavaScript, and CSS. This allows your pages to load faster. Don’t enable minify if you’re using a CDN. If you’re not sure what that is, then you’re probably not using it.

I should warn you that it’s possible that enabling minify could break your site. If it does, no need to worry, just disable it.

I recommend at least testing it out to see if it works for you.

Database Cache and Object Cache

I don’t enable the “database cache” or “object cache.”  This is due to the recommendation of my web host.

Browser Cache

This enables caching in your visitors web browser. With browser cache enabled, when visitors access your site for a second time, it will load faster for them.

Save all settings.

b. Page Cache Tab

Now we’re moving on to the Page Cache tab.

The following image shows the boxes that should be checked in the General box.

page cache settings

Save all changes.

c. Minify Tab

Click on the Minify tab.

As I mentioned previously, minify is a setting I choose to use, that may not work for your site. If minify works fine for you, lets go over the settings you should have enabled.

minify settings

Special Note for HTML & XML

I don’t enable “line break removal” because it breaks my website. This setting may however work for you, so it’s worth a try.

You’ll notice that I’ve added “mfunc” to my ignored comment stems. This is something that should be added only if you’re using the WooCommerce plugin.

Save all settings.

I did not enable the Database or Object Cache, so we’ll skip over those two tabs.

d. Browser Cache Tab

Click on the Browser Cache tab.

The following image shows the boxes that should be checked in the General box.

browser cache settings

Save all settings.

That’s it. We won’t touch any of the additional tabs. Once you’re finished, if you’re asked to clear your cache, do so.

Now that we’ve gotten our W3 Total Cache plugin all set up, let’s see if it helped to improve our site speed. Go back to PageSpeed Insights and run the test again. Here are my results after installing the W3 Total Cache plugin:

page speed final

Has your site speed improved? Please share your results below.