Retaining web visitors by providing them with better web browsing experience has become a challenging task these days. Today’s web developers and webmasters spend more time in understanding and analyzing optimization metrics that can significantly improve website ranking in Google search results.

In fact in 2010, Google confirmed that there are over 200 factors that influence search rankings. Speeding up your website is one of those high priority items. Domain experts also suggest that improving website browsing speed is the most effective way to improve user experience and SERP rankings.

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Unfortunately, most of us take a little care of making a website faster and easily accessible from any part of the world. Those who care are not even fully aware of the techniques that work better and faster. You may use many free online tools such as Google PageSpeed Insights, or Pingdom to identify latency factors that usually slow down your website loading time, but doing this exercise alone does not solve the problem really. Does it?

You need to know the technology behind the scene that works faster and show a considerable amount of improvement in page loading time. The technology is called ‘Caching’. Whether you use a CMS like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal or a plain HTML or PHP based website, enabling caching at your site can dramatically improve the speed at which users browse your web pages.

What is Caching?

Considering most of the techies know the basics of caching and page rendering steps by web browsers let us not repeat the same story here. Instead, we will talk about different caching technologies, the items to be cached, and the cache implementation steps. I think that is what interests our readers more than anything else.

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Caching Technologies

There are two ways to do it – Browser based Caching and Website Caching

1. Browser based Caching: When a user opens a website in a browser the web browser keeps a local cache of all the HTML files that were opened or downloaded during page browsing. Next time, when the same user reopens the web page, the browser sends requests to the web server and asks for the information if there were any changes in the files since downloaded last. If there is no change in the files the browser collects information from the local temporary cache copy and shows it to the users instead of pulling information from database storage.

Thus static content like images, header, footer, sidebar of a website don’t require passing through the entire page rendering process. This reduces the number of requests in a page, puts a less burden on your web server and considerably improves site download speed.

2. CMS based caching: When a user sends browser request to open your WordPress site the site retrieves stored pages from MySQL database and then compiles them for reader’s viewing. This calls for retrieval of information again and again for each new user query on the internet which slows down website performance. By using WordPress caching plug-ins, the HTML pages can be stored in the built-in cache directory and delivered directly without going through the page rendering processes. This works best for the permanent or almost unchanging files on your WordPress website.

These plug-ins can be further configured to control caching pattern. You can save query results that are most popular on your site, for example, specific static pages like ‘About Us’, ‘Contact’ page or Product pages. This saves time while serving intended content to the readers right away. WordPress caching optimizes website performance to a great extent.

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Dynamic File Caching

Caching technology not only works for static files but also does much to optimize rendering of dynamic or ever-changing files. You can configure caching plug-in to set an expiration date of cache storage, for example, 1 week, 1 month, or even 1 year.

Let us see how it works. For example, you may need to replace the header image of your site twice in a month which means updating a dynamic file in every 15 days of interval. Now you can configure cache plug-in to set an expiration date of header images 2 weeks. In this way, your cache copy will automatically update itself in every 15 days, and for every expiration date passing by will display the new images directly to the users. All these image cache and re-cache events happen automatically without requiring you to remember what to change and when. Once you set caching rules for intended pages and posts, the rest of the things automatically fall in place. For dynamic files, you may even set lower expiration dates so that your website pages are constantly being cached in less time interval.

W3 Total cache is the most popular and widely used cache plug-in for WordPress powered websites.

How CDN helps in Caching

Content Delivery Network (CDN) does a great job in implementing a caching technology. It has an ability to dynamically profile website resources, determine the frequency of caching, and identify all cacheable content for temporary storage so that they are served directly to the users at a faster rate. The dynamic profiling and caching frequency analysis ensure that frequently accessed resources in your website are served directly from memory. This avoids the general route of file processing system for content delivery and thus speeds up your website up to 50{71b550cbed0aca3fea2335d26076176dc834a5ad6e765af844b2cea64fe7483b}.

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Using CDN based caching instead of Buffer cache commercial websites can reduce bandwidth consumption from 40{71b550cbed0aca3fea2335d26076176dc834a5ad6e765af844b2cea64fe7483b} to 70{71b550cbed0aca3fea2335d26076176dc834a5ad6e765af844b2cea64fe7483b} which is a remarkable saving on server usage.

Caching mechanism of a Content Delivery Network

1. Content caching for static resources: A CDN service provider can help you with caching HTML files, images, and JavaScripts so that they are served from different data centers on demand.

2. Content caching for dynamic resources: The CDN technology continuously profiles website resources based on their usage volume, frequency and then gather intelligence on each of the resources. The intelligence helps you to optimize caching mechanism and deliver content to users with a higher accuracy.

3. Client-side caching: This ensures that as many resources as possible are directly loaded on users’ browser or mobile device and there is a less burden on your host. A CDN service provider uses advanced algorithms for dynamic caching and sets browser caching instructions, and ‘refresh policy’ so that users always see the fresh content on your site.

Most importantly, with CDN service enabled, you can create custom caching rules and control caching for specific URLs and resource types. You can even apply flexible caching policies to manage caching modes and speed up your website pages as and how it is required.

Conclusion

If you own a commercial website containing a large number of pages and your web developer is already done with his or her part of speed optimization job resulting in only 50{71b550cbed0aca3fea2335d26076176dc834a5ad6e765af844b2cea64fe7483b} of improvement in speed performance, it is time that you consult CDN experts for an additional help. Outsourcing speed improvement jobs to a CDN provider can help you focus more on your core business areas and ensures better user experience anytime, anywhere in the world.