You’ve got a beautiful and informative website, a steady stream of new visitors and great content—but the users do not seem to stick around. According to a research report by Neil Patel’s SEO team, nearly half (47%) of your website users will leave if your site takes more than two seconds to load. If your website takes longer than that, you damage your website user experience even further. Viewers today do not want to wait for pages to load. They will find another website to go to—one that loads faster than yours.
Tip: Check your page load speed using Google’s Page Insights tool here
Why is it essential to have a fast website?
With Google searches drawing maximum traffic to web pages worldwide, your page must load fast to rank higher on Google searches. A recent study determined that an extra second of load time resulted in a whopping 25% decrease in conversion rates.
What is a web server?
Each website runs on a web server. A web server has two sides to it, hardware and software. On the hardware front, a web server is a computer that holds all the files for your website and server software to serve the files to your browser on request. On the software side, a web server has HTTP server software. This software holds the files of your website. The web server also understands web addresses (URLs such as www.packwebhosting.com) and HTTP (a protocol used by browsers to display web pages).
How does a web server display a website?
When you type your website name in the browser (for example, to open my website, I will type www.packwebhosting.com) and hit the enter key, your web server will send all the files needed to display the site on your browser.
How can I speed up my website?
You can quickly speed up your website using caching. If you are running WordPress, plugins such as LiteSpeed Cache can easily help you boost your website speeds to return high Google page ranks. Caching is done for both images and pages to ensure lightning-fast website speeds.
What is Caching?
A cache is a copy of a file (a web page or an image in the case of a website) that is saved locally (or on the server) to speed up delivery. Before you know more about caching, knowing what happens when someone opens your WordPress website is essential.
- The server receives a request from your browser to open a website
- The server performs the following steps to send the site to the browser:
- Get a list of the latest posts
- Generate the website header and footer
- Place the widgets on the sidebar
- Understand how media (photos, videos and text) is to be displayed
Once the server has all this information, the web page displays it on your browser.
What does caching do in this process?
Usually, the process of getting items together and generating a web page out of them takes less than a second on a server. However, it may take longer when the server receives too many requests. When that happens, your users will see slower page load times, leading to impatient users abandoning your website for another.
Caching plugins make copies of a completed page request. If the same page is requested multiple times in a minute or two, the same pre-built copy is sent to those browsers, resulting in a much faster page view. This also helps your website rank higher in page SEO.
Are there different types of caching?
Yes. Caching is of at least two types—browser caching and server caching. As the name suggests, browser caching is at the website visitor’s end, and server caching is at the web server end. Here’s how they differ:
Browser Caching allows your browser to save files from websites that you visit a lot. This helps the browser render those websites faster as new files do not have to be retrieved each time.
Server caching is a bit more complex. The server collates the results of all the requests received in a specific period and stores them to serve the saved results faster next time.
Is it essential to implement website caching?
Yes. When appropriately implemented, website caching can dramatically improve website speed and boost your SEO scores. Google takes site loading speed seriously, and a slow website can impact your SEO score.
What is bounce rate?
Bounce rate (%) = Visits that access only a single page (#) ÷ Total visits (#) to the website. Bounce rate is the number of users going away quickly after visiting your website but without performing any action. This means that users come to your page, wait for it to load and leave. Bounce rates are an important Google ranking factor. If a specific page has a high bounce rate, you can check the page’s loading time, content, and information to analyze why users leave so quickly or without making a purchase.
What is LiteSpeed Cache?
LiteSpeed Cache, aka LSCache, is a cache plugin for WordPress. This is an all-in-one plugin that offers server-level Cache and a host of optimization features. LSCache is compatible with the most popular WordPress plugins, including WooCommerce, bbPress and Yoast SEO.
What are the main features of LiteSpeed Cache?
LightSpeed Cache offers a host of features that support multi-site WordPress installations. The top features of this plugin include:
- DNS prefetch
- Cloudflare API integration
- WebP image format support
- Auto-generation of critical CSS
- Both lossy and lossless image optimization
- Lazyloading of images and iframes
And that’s not all. This plugin offers a host of other features that can help a website owner quickly optimize their website.
Note: You can use the general features of this plugin with any web server (LiteSpeed, Apache, NGINX, etc.). However, some LiteSpeed exclusive features require one of the following web servers or services:
- Commercial LiteSpeed products
- LiteSpeed-powered hosting
- QUIC.cloud CDN
These exclusive features include:
- Automatic page caching for improved site performance
- Automatic event-based purging related pages
- Private Cache for logged-in users
- Caching of WordPress REST API calls
- Separate caching of desktop and mobile views
- Scheduled purges for specific URLs
- WooCommerce and bbPress support
- WordPress CLI commands
- API system for easy cache integration
- Exclude from Cache by URI, Category, Tag, Cookie, User Agent
Pack Web Hosting offers LiteSpeed-powered hosting that allows you to take advantage of all the fantastic features this plugin offers and boost your SEO rankings.
Why is LiteSpeed powered hosting better?
The LiteSpeed Cache plugin communicates with the LiteSpeed webserver and its page cache to deliver faster page loads. As LSCache is a server-level cache, it is quicker than PHP-level caches.
According to LiteSpeed’s documentation, “A page cache allows the server to bypass PHP and database queries altogether. LSCache, because of its close relationship with the server, can remember things about the cache entries that other plugins cannot, and it can analyze dependencies. It can utilize tags to manage the smart purging of the Cache, and it can use various cookies to serve multiple versions of cached content based on things like mobile vs desktop, geographic location, and currencies.”
Simply put, when you use the LiteSpeed Cache plugin with the LiteSpeed Web Server and an LSCache license, you will get access to the full capability of the server for both optimization and caching. When you use just the plugin, you can use all the optimization features the plugin offers but cannot get the benefits of caching.
Need all the features of LiteSpeed Cache? Switch to Pack Web Hosting today!
How do I install the LiteSpeed Cache plugin?
The LiteSpeed Cache plugin is available in WordPress plugins and is very easy to install. Here’s what you need to do:
- Log onto your website as an administrator
- From the dashboard, hover over Plugins and choose Add New
- Search for LiteSpeed
- Click the Install Now button to install the plugin
- Once installed, click the Activate button to install the plugin
How can I configure the LiteSpeed Cache plugin for my website?
Configuring the LiteSpeed Cache plugin is pretty straightforward. Once you have activated the plugin, you will see the following menu item in your dashboard menu:
We will focus on basic configuration options that will help you speed up your website and have the most significant impact. Note that for most users, the default, out-of-the-box configuration is the best option.
Note: If you need further information about setting up LiteSpeed Cache for your website, consult the LiteSpeed Cache documentation for more details.
Here’s how you can configure LiteSpeed Cache:
- From the LiteSpeed Cache menu, click Cache
Note: If you’re not using a LiteSpeed web server, you will see a warning that tells you that some features will be unavailable. See the screenshot below for reference:
- If you are using a LiteSpeed web server, you will see the following screen:
The options on this page include:
- Cache – this tab sets the control cache for special content types, such as REST API calls and login pages.
- Ensure that you keep the Cache Logged-in Users on only if you have a limited number of users. If you have many people logging in and out, this can use a lot of space as a lot of pages are created for each user.
- Turn Cache Login page off only if you are dealing with a bot attack.
- Turn Cache Commenters off only if you are not using comment moderation for posts.
- TTL – (time-to-live) controls the duration some content types stay saved in the Cache.
- Do not change the values in the fields in TTL unless you are sure that you will NEVER change the contents of your website.
- Purge – Contains settings for removing or purging content from the Cache. The LiteSpeed Cache plugin automatically purges Cache when plugins, themes, or the WordPress core is updated.
- Do not change the value of Purge Stale unless you understand how it works.
- Change Auto Purge rules for Publish/Update only if you need to. For example, if you have widgets on posts that receive comments regularly, you can set the All Pages option.
- Most default options for Purge All Hooks are good to go. If you do not have a plugin that alters the visual aspects of your website, or you do not know how to purge hooks or add entries for it, manually clear the Cache after each design change. This will ensure that all new implementations are always visible on your pages.
- Excludes – This defines the content types that you do not want to cache.
- ESI – Edge Side Includes settings. This is an advanced technique for caching fragments of pages assembled later to create a full version of the page. You must test ESI thoroughly before implementing it. It is best to leave this setting off if you do not know what you’re doing.
- Object – The object cache stores the results of frequent database queries for quick retrieval. This reduces database hits and speeds up performance. Object Cache settings require Memcached integration. Check with your website host to know more.
- Browser – With this, your site will cache specific files in the browser.
- Change Browser Cache TTL to more than seven days only if there are no changes to your site or if they are very infrequent. The time is in seconds.
- Advanced – As it states, this is for advanced users who understand how caching works. You will only need this if you have more than one caching plugin. Do Not install two caching plugins unless you know how to integrate them with LSCache.
- Do not use Instant Click if you do not know what you’re doing. This setting opens links on your website on hover. If you have many links on your pages, it can increase server load due to the number of requests.
Configuring Page Optimization settings
Most of these options work best if you leave them on their default value. If you wish to minify code on your website, it is best to use a CDN or content delivery network service such as Cloudflare.
- CSS Settings – these include settings for CSS minification, loading and caching. They also have a font display control.
- Load CSS Asynchronously will increase page load speeds but can also cause the FOUC effect.
- Set Font Display Optimization to either Default or Block. These are less likely to cause the FOUC effect. You can also use Optional as fonts are not very critical for the user experience.
- Changing Load JS Deferred can hurt the user experience as scripts will load after HTML. Animations and other methods will go for a toss, making the page load faster but horrible to the user. Suitable only for benchmarking.
- Keep Load Inline JS at default as the other two values can cause JS to act up.
- Optimization – sets the CSS and JS Cache TTL (time-to-live). Additionally, this has settings for minifying, DNS prefetch, Google fonts, and WordPress emojis.
- DNS Prefetch can dramatically improve loading speed. Just press F12 on the keyboard and select sources. Check all the pages that your website is getting content from. Now type them in the content box so the plugin can preload the DNS.
- Remove WordPress Emoji is only helpful for those using very old browsers.
- Media Settings – This includes image placeholder, LQIP (Low-Quality Image Placeholder) settings and a Lazy Load Images setting. However, WordPress automatically began lazy loading images since version 5.4. If you run an up-to-date version of WordPress, you don’t need to enable lazy loading in this plugin.
- Implement Lazy Load only if you have a lot of images in the upper half of the page.
- Set Responsive Placeholder if lazy load is enabled.
- Media Excludes – these settings are all related to lazy loading images.
- Set Lazy Load Image Excludes for images that you want seen right away.
- Set Lazy Load URI Excludes for pages that you want seen right away.
- Localization – Gravatar cache settings.
- Leave these as-is unless you have posts with literally thousands of comments.
- Do not change Gravatar Cache TTL unless people constantly change their Gravatars.
- Tuning – for CSS and JS files. Leave most of these at default unless you know what you’re doing.
- Change Critical CSS Rules only if you have enabled Load CSS Asynchronously.
- We found that Max Combined File Size is only suitable for benchmarking in GTMetrix or Pingdom.
- Change Role Excludes only if you want to troubleshoot issues for a specific user role.
Configuring Database settings
Please do not change Database settings unless you know what you’re doing. The optimization tools in this plugin are amazing, and we would recommend that you take advantage of them if you can.
- Clean All performs all the optimizations available except Optimize Tables and Clean CSS/JS Optimizer.
- Change Spam Comments if you have a lot of spam comments. This icon will remove all of the settings.
- Change Expired Transients only if their number is growing.
- Only use Clean CSS/JS Optimizer if you have minified JS or CSS.
- Optimize Tables will reorganize the physical storage and table data with indexes.
- Set Autoload Data in Database Summary to 1MB or lower. This ensures the removal of old data kept by a deleted plugin.
- Optimization settings
- Set Revisions Max Number to 0 unless you have a lot of posts.
- Keep Revisions Max Age at 0 to avoid issues.
When done, press Save to optimize your website. That’s it!
Whew! That is quite a list. To be honest, we only scratched the surface of all that LiteSpeed Cache has to offer. The LiteSpeed Cache documentation describes each of these functions in excruciating detail. If you are an advanced user or an administrator, we recommend giving the documentation a read.
LiteSpeed Cache is an incredible plugin, mainly when used in conjunction with the LiteSpeed Web Server. Together, they can dramatically reduce page load times and boost your website’s SEO and Google page ranks. Just remember one thing—if you wish to run a different caching plugin, ensure that you disable LiteSpeed Cache. Do not use more than one caching plugin unless you know how to integrate them with LSCache.
We hope you liked reading this article as much as we enjoyed writing it. If you are using Pack Web Hosting’s amazing hosting service, just give us a shout if you run into problems! Take care, stay safe and speed up your website!