WP Super Cache Made Easy: A Step-By-Step Guide to Speeding Up Your Site

WP Super Cache Made Easy: A Step-By-Step Guide to Speeding Up Your Site

You want your website’s visitors to have the best experience possible, right?

Well, then you better not keep them waiting. Slow-loading pages are one of the biggest frustrations people experience online.

In fact, having slow page loads can affect everything from how many people view your site and where you rank in Google to how likely people are to buy from you.

In other words, having a fast website is crazy-important.

But what can you do? You’re not a developer, so you don’t have the first clue how to speed up your site.

That’s where WP Super Cache comes in.

It’s a free plugin that can slash your page load times in half without the need for any special knowledge.

Here’s how it works…

How WP Super Cache Makes Your Website Faster

Before I explain how WP Super Cache works, you need to understand how WordPress serves your content to your visitors.

This will get a bit technical, but don’t worry, I’ll try to keep this as painless and human-friendly as possible. I know most of you aren’t developers. (And neither am I!)

Here’s what goes on under the hood of your site:

Whenever you get a visitor, WordPress builds the page through a number of processes which involve:

  • Executing PHP (like the functionalities added by your theme or your WordPress plugins)
  • Querying your site’s database to retrieve content (like the text in your blog posts)

Normally, WordPress executes these processes dynamically.

That means WordPress has to execute all separate processes to load your website’s content for each individual visit.

Now computers are fast these days, but this still takes time.

And your visitors can’t see your website until these processes are complete, which means they have to wait to start using your site (a.k.a. slow page load times ).

That’s exactly the problem WP Super Cache fixes.

WP Super Cache Turns Dynamic into Static to Speed Up Your Site


Using something called page caching, WP Super Cache stores a static HTML copy of your content for visitors to browse. Basically, it stores a copy of the end result of the dynamic process outlined above.

That way, your web server no longer needs to execute the PHP or query your database for each individual visitor.

Instead, it serves up the already-finished product.

And because your server has to do significantly less work, it loads the finished page much faster.

Here, I’ll prove it…

Putting WP Super Cache to the Test with Real Data

For this tutorial, I’ll set up a test site and upload a full landing page so it seems “real.”

Then I’ll use Pingdom’s Speed Test tool to show how quickly my site loads before WP Super Cache is installed, and how quickly it loads after various steps in the configuration process. (I recommend you do the same when you install the plugin.)

That way, you’ll see exactly how much of an effect WP Super Cache has.

Ready?

Here’s the page load time before installing WP Super Cache:

Page load time before WP Super Cache

2.02 seconds isn’t horrible, but we can do a lot better!

Let’s install WP Super Cache and see how fast we can get.

Step #1: Install the WP Super Cache Plugin

WP Super Cache is listed in the official WordPress.org plugin directory, which means that you can install it straight from your WordPress dashboard.

To do that, go to Plugins → Add New. Then search for “WP Super Cache” and click the Install Now button:

Search and Install WordPress WP Super Cache plugin

After a few seconds, the Install Now button should change to read Activate. Click that Activate button to make WP Super Cache active:

Activate WordPress Wp Super Cache plugin

Now the plugin is active on your site. But it’s still not working quite just yet.

Here’s what to do next…

Step #2: Turn On Basic Caching for an Instant 50% Reduction in Page Load Times

One of the beautiful things about WP Super Cache is how easy it is to start using the plugin. All you need to do is click a button.

Yes, really.

You can configure some of the advanced settings to optimize your load times further (which we’ll cover in a minute), but clicking that one button gives you the biggest speed boost.

Here’s what you do:

Go to Settings → WP Super Cache in your WordPress dashboard.

Then select the radio box for Caching On and click Update Status:

Turn on basic caching

And just like that, you’ve activated basic page caching on your site. By itself, that should lead to a major speed improvement.

How major? Let’s find out!

Here’s my page load time after clicking the button:

Page load time improved with WordPress WP Super Cache

Now, my test site loads in just 883 milliseconds. (Remember, it was 2.02 seconds before.)

Let me press a few buttons on my calculator, and…

Yup, I cut more than half off my page load time with less than five minutes of work.

Amazing, right?

But we’re not stopping there.

Because WP Super Cache includes some advanced settings that can:

  1. Further speed up your site
  2. Prevent caching-related issues

So let’s soldier on and configure some of these settings.

Step #3: Configure Advanced Settings for an Even Bigger Speed Boost

To get started, head to the Advanced tab in the WP Super Cache Settings area:

Configure advanced settings - WordPress WP Super Cache

To configure most of the advanced settings, you pretty much just need to check a box.

Below, I’ll explain each box that I recommend you check, starting in the Miscellaneous section.

1.) Exclude Admin Accounts and Other Users from Caching


This way, WordPress will still dynamically generate pages for people who are logged in.

One issue that arises from caching is that it takes around 30 minutes for changes you make to your site to go live. That means you’d have to wait 30 minutes before you can see the result of your changes. Obviously, this would be a pain.  

That’s why you should check the box for Don’t cache pages for known users and keep that from happening:

Don't cache pages for known users

This way, WordPress will keep generating pages dynamically for logged-in users (i.e., you, the administrator).

You’ll always get the latest dynamically-generated version of your site, while anonymous users get the performance-optimized static version.

2.) Enable GZIP Compression for Another Small Speed Boost


Next, you should check the box to Compress pages so they’re served more quickly to visitors.

Here’s what that does:

WP Super Cache will shrink (compress) the size of the static file that it generates without affecting the file’s functionality. Because the file size is smaller, your page will load a little bit faster:

How much quicker? After enabling this setting, my page load time shrunk a little more, down to 837 milliseconds:

It’s definitely not as big a reduction as before. But when it comes to page load times, every bit counts!

Note: While I’ve never experienced any issues, this setting can cause problems with some hosts. For that reason, you should double-check your site’s functionality after enabling this setting.

If you encounter any issues, you can just uncheck the box. While you’re missing out on a small speed boost, the difference is relatively negligible.

3.) Enable Browser Caching to Eliminate Redundant Downloads


So far, you’ve enabled WP Super Cache for page caching, but you should enable the plugin for browser caching as well. This can boost load times even further for recurring visitors.

Here’s how it works:

Browsers temporarily store files on each visitor’s computer. By enabling browser caching, you tell your visitor’s browser not to reload parts of your page that haven’t changed from their last visit. Instead, their browser will load the file from their computer, which is much faster than downloading it from your host server.

To enable this setting, check the box for 304 Not Modified browser caching:

Not modified browser caching

Unfortunately, because Pingdom doesn’t store files the same way regular people’s computers do, I can’t show you how much this boosts performance.

4.) Exclude Pages from Caching (If They Experience Issues)


Caching is unlikely to cause issues with 99% of your site. But it can happen, especially on any pages where you ask visitors to enter information in a form.

For example, I’ve personally had an issue where the contact form on my portfolio site wasn’t working due to my caching plugin. Yikes!

This can directly lead to lost business, which is why you should test important pages on your site as an anonymous user after installation. (Remember, you just enabled the setting to exclude your WordPress account from seeing cached pages.)

How?

Depending on your browser, open up a new window in Incognito mode (Shift + Ctrl + N in Chrome or Opera) or Private Browsing mode (Shift + Ctrl + P in Firefox or Internet Explorer) and test the page that way:

If you notice anything funky, you can manually exclude that page from being cached to avoid any issues.

Just scroll down the Advanced Settings page until you reach Accepted Filenames & Rejected URIs.

In the section that starts with “Add here strings (not a filename)”, enter the URL slug for the page that’s having issues.

In the example above, you can see that I’ve manually excluded my Contact Me page.

Not sure where to find the URL slug? Just go to the page with issues and copy the part that comes after the slash:

5.) Consider Using a CDN to Speed Things Up Even More


You might not know this, but physical distance still has an effect on how quickly a website loads. (Curse you, laws of physics!)

So the farther away your visitor is from your host server, the slower your site will load — unless you use a CDN (a.k.a. Content Delivery Network).

When you use a CDN, you distribute copies of your site’s static files (like your images) to different servers around the world.

That way, your visitors can download these files from a location that’s close to them, instead of downloading them from your host server.

And WP Super Cache offers an option to install a CDN on the CDN tab:

Install a CDN with WP Super Cache

But here’s the thing…

I recommend not using WP Super Cache for this, and using Cloudflare instead.

Cloudflare is a CDN that:

  • Is easy to get started with
  • Offers a free plan
  • Includes security features to keep your site safe

But you can’t use WP Super Cache to install Cloudflare. You install it by changing your nameservers. (Here’s a tutorial to get you started.)

So how much does a CDN like Cloudflare speed up your site, anyway? Once again, let’s see the data:

WP Super Cache + CDN can speed up your site

You can see that my site now loads in 824 milliseconds, which is another small improvement from the previous speed of 837 milliseconds.

Now, that may not seem like much, but remember that the CDN’s purpose is to make your website fast for people around the globe.

So even though you only see a small speed improvement here, the improvement will likely be far greater for people visiting from Europe, Asia, or Australia.

How to Manually Clear Your Cache (And Why This Is Important)

Almost finished!

There’s just one more thing I want to cover.

As I talked about earlier, caching can delay changes made to your site. But sometimes you’ll make a change to your site that you want to go live right away for all users.

You do this by manually clearing your cache.

This forces WP Super Cache to generate a new cache that incorporates your most recent changes.

Here’s how to do it:

Go to Settings → WP Super Cache. Then click on the Contents tab and choose Delete Cache.

Manually clear your cache

And that’s all there is to it!

Delight Your Readers with a Quick-Loading Website

Going forward, you’ll never need to worry whether your visitors are yelling at their computer screens, waiting for your website to load.

Now you have the knowledge you need to ensure your website loads as quickly as it can, for everyone.

All that’s left to do is to put your knowledge into action.

Install the WP Super Cache plugin, click that button, and configure the advanced settings.

You’ll have a faster-loading website before you can finish a cup of coffee.

About the author: Colin Newcomer is a freelance writer for hire with a background in SEO and affiliate marketing. He helps clients grow their web visibility by writing primarily about digital marketing and WordPress. In his spare time, he travels and curates graphic t-shirts.
 

39 Comments

  1. Trevor Andrews
    Jan 25, 2018 @ 10:38:07

    Thanks Colin,

    Good reminder to check things and there were a couple of “recommended” I had not ticked.

    • Anil Agarwal
      Mar 05, 2018 @ 10:05:09

      Hi Colin,

      Thanks for writing a huge tutorial on using WP super cache plugin as I’ve been using it on few of my sites for a long time. But one question keeps pondering to me is I really don’t understand the difference between the two: WP super cache and W3 total cache.

      For me, both works really great. They are great at optimizing your cache and increasing your overall website’s performance by decluttering unwanted cache files from your database servers. What I noticed is, using these kind of plugins work really better when you also focus on using a CDN along with dedicated hosting.

      As far as know, plugins like these are easy to set up and you don’t even need to make any further modifications to speed up your loading times. But articles like this can help us understand few more things better to speed up our sites. So thank you for taking time to write this tutorial.

      Keep rocking and keep posting such useful tutorials related to WordPress in future.

      Anil Agarwal

  2. Dan
    Jan 25, 2018 @ 11:30:22

    I have a GoDaddy hosted site. WP Super Cache is not allowed on their system because of “performance and security concerns.” I used to have JetPack installed but it also was incompatible in many respects with the GoDaddy system. Both are Automattic plugins. Seems like there may be something nefarious going on here.

    • Sangeeta
      Jan 25, 2018 @ 20:27:26

      Wow! Didn’t know that GoDaddy has an issue with WP Super Cache. I thought I hadn’t been able to configure it in the past. Need to checkout for our site!

    • Colin Newcomer
      Jan 25, 2018 @ 20:44:50

      Hey Dan, I’ve never used GoDaddy so I wasn’t aware of that. Definitely odd. My only thought is that they have their own server-side caching already in place which renders WP Super Cache redundant.

    • Pat
      Jan 28, 2018 @ 10:17:08

      I have a GoDaddy account for two websites… just installed the WP Super Cache with no problems…. How did GoDaddy inform you that the plugin was not allowed???? No messages from them yet, and everything seems to be working fine.

      • Dan
        Jan 28, 2018 @ 10:25:52

        When I go to “add new plugin” from the dashboard, WP Super Cache shows as “not available.” When I hover over the little question mark under the “not available” notice, I get a pop up message that says “This plugin is not allowed on our system due to performance, security, or compatibility concerns.” I’m assuming that message is generated by GoDaddy.

      • Colin Newcomer
        Jan 28, 2018 @ 20:41:12

        It could be that one of you is on regular shared hosting while the other is on managed WordPress hosting. Just a guess!

  3. Matt
    Jan 25, 2018 @ 14:56:06

    Great tutorial! The only thing I would add is that deleting the cache is only needed if you make a change to your site that doesn’t involve a specific page or post. A cache file for a url isn’t created until someone (who in this case isn’t logged in) visits it. So there’s no need to clear the cache will you create a post or page. And whenever you update a post or page, its cache file is deleted, so deleting the cache for that url would be redundant.

    • Colin Newcomer
      Jan 25, 2018 @ 20:46:17

      Hey Matt,

      Good points! I probably could’ve been clearer about that.

  4. Tutu Sainz
    Jan 25, 2018 @ 15:31:43

    Thank you, Colin, for this well-presented information. I often feel like I’m groping in the dark, trying to figure out how to maintain my blog, but then today you made blogging feel easy and straightforward 🙂

    I tried it on my blog and it seems to be working beautifully. Aloha!

    • Colin Newcomer
      Jan 25, 2018 @ 20:46:42

      Glad it help, Tutu!

  5. Sangeeta
    Jan 25, 2018 @ 20:25:58

    Thanks a ton for this post Colin! Super simple you make it. I always struggled with the Super Cache, especially the CDN bit. This is awesome. Loved it and it’s going to make life much simpler with the speeds that we hope to achieve for multiple websites.

  6. Jina
    Jan 26, 2018 @ 06:53:58

    Its a helpful and informative article you shared with us. I observed earlier that my site is going slow, i will definitely try this method to resolve the issue.

  7. Dharmendra Kumar
    Jan 27, 2018 @ 12:48:00

    thanx for this, Colin, for this well-presented information. I often feel like I’m groping in the dark, trying to figure out how to maintain my blog, but then today you made blogging feel easy and straightforward

    • Colin Newcomer
      Jan 28, 2018 @ 20:41:33

      Glad it helped, Dharmendra!

  8. Tara Kuczykowski
    Jan 27, 2018 @ 17:31:14

    I installed WP Super Cache, followed all of the instructions above (minus the CDN part because I wanted to test it as is first), and my site speed tripled. What could possibly cause this? I ran the Pingdom test several times just to make sure it wasn’t a glitch.

    • Colin Newcomer
      Jan 28, 2018 @ 20:42:29

      Hey Tara,

      That definitely shouldn’t be happening 🙂 Where are you hosting your site?

  9. Rodrigo Mello
    Jan 27, 2018 @ 18:58:19

    Hi Colin,

    I am about to create my first blog of my life and i liked the theme that you have used to create yours. Could you please let me know which theme is this?

    Thanks!

    Rodrigo Mello.

    • Colin Newcomer
      Jan 28, 2018 @ 20:43:34

      Hey Rodrigo,

      Do you mean the one I used in the test site examples or my actual portfolio site? The test site is an Elementor page builder template. My portfolio site is Thrive Themes.

  10. Saito
    Jan 29, 2018 @ 08:17:18

    Great piece! Loading Images was one thing that really drug my site because I don’t know that size matters. I had to cap all images to 1000 x 400p for featured Images and at least below 500p for the images that go in the article body, and I can say my website’s speed is now wow!

    • Colin Newcomer
      Jan 30, 2018 @ 02:32:41

      Hey Saito,

      For images, I really like the Imagify and ShortPixel plugins (you only need one of the two). If you’re not already using an image optimization plugin, they’ll make your life a lot easier!

  11. Dr. Amanda Harris
    Jan 29, 2018 @ 11:08:19

    Awesome post! Thanks Colin… My website speed just increase by 50%. Very happy! Thanks a lot

    • Colin Newcomer
      Jan 30, 2018 @ 02:33:11

      Awesome! That’s what I love to hear.

  12. free backlink checker
    Jan 29, 2018 @ 11:20:57

    Some great tips-now i need to go back and fix my site

  13. Mr & Mrs Gist
    Jan 30, 2018 @ 06:27:12

    Given how much site speed impacts SEO, this is a real big focus for us having just launched our new site. We’ve compressed images and it’s made a real difference. Thanks fro your tips.

  14. DNN
    Jan 30, 2018 @ 18:19:14

    I have no idea certain WordPress plugins have the ability to not only speed up your WordPress blog, but also help contribute toward better search engine rankings by having the WordPress SuperCache a plug-in installed. I’m glad I use WordPress. There’s an array of virtually unlimited plugins available to help enhance the functionality of the blog and reach to new untapped audiences. Using WordPress on your dedicated web server is the best way to go. It doesn’t use up server resources to the point where your server is struggling to serve content and handle large sums of incoming traffic from search engines and social networks.

  15. Battulal
    Jan 31, 2018 @ 05:08:12

    Just Amazing information.
    I think I’m your big fan because you always come with such a wonderful information and it’s really gonna help us thanks for sharing valuable information with us keep posting…!!!
    Great work

  16. Sandesh
    Feb 03, 2018 @ 16:09:49

    Thanks Colin for the detailed tutorial about WP Super Cache, how about other free caching plugins. Do you think those are worth it as compare to WP Super Cache?

    • Colin Newcomer
      Feb 05, 2018 @ 05:34:34

      Hey Sandesh,

      The other free plugin that’s a good option is Cache Enabler.

      I’ve tested several free caching plugins and WP Super Cache and Cache Enabler were the two fastest options in my tests.

      But other than personal preference, I don’t think there’s any concrete reason why Cache Enabler is better. They both did equally well.

  17. Awogor Matthew
    Feb 07, 2018 @ 05:22:07

    Wp Statistics is my best traffic stat plugin with the simple and easy to determine plugin which shows everything about the visitor.

  18. Yannick
    Feb 08, 2018 @ 07:17:55

    Thanks for this great article. I noticed using this plugin made my site a lot faster.

  19. Joseph
    Feb 14, 2018 @ 01:46:45

    I just installed this plug in after reading your story and now my website is loading very fast and its loading time is below 5 sec. Thanks for your suggestion and speeding up my blog.

  20. shipon
    Feb 19, 2018 @ 15:32:13

    Hey Colin Newcomer
    I’m worried about my website loading speed.Really very slow.I’m using premium cache plugin on my blog.still same problem.After installing wp super cache plugin I’m getting very good result 🙂 thanks for your awesome tricks
    Good Job

  21. Dennis
    Feb 22, 2018 @ 11:28:57

    Thanks a bunch for a great explanation of how caching works and how to configure the plugin.

    I’m wondering why the Performance Grade went down from A 91 to B 89?

    Can you please explain that.

    Thanks again.

  22. Julia Fernandez
    Mar 01, 2018 @ 07:16:27

    Hi,
    I’m RevGlue.com affiliate blogger. You are a new blogger’s dream come true. Every single post of yours is packed with tips to implement. From this post, I will certainly implement your method. I do outline but I totally get the importance of caching now. It is such a great tool to use to teach new bloggers the skills you have to share. Thank you for constantly enhancing my blogging education.

  23. david
    Mar 02, 2018 @ 13:46:08

    Wow! Didn’t know that GoDaddy has an issue with WP Super Cache. I thought I hadn’t been able to configure it in the past. Need to checkout for our site!

  24. ANJAN KUMAR
    Mar 14, 2018 @ 13:00:38

    Thank you, Colin,
    for this well-presented information.
    This plugin works fine on my WordPress niche blog.. my blog bounce rate decrease..
    Thanks a lot…

  25. Raiden Vaughan
    Mar 24, 2018 @ 08:02:28

    Having a website with low page speed is really frustrating not for you but for the visitor too. Hence you should try every possible way to increase the page speed. When it’s comes increasing website speed WP Super Cache is a must. Thanks for sharing step by step guide for installing WP Super Cache plugin.

Share
Pin
Tweet
+1
Share