Caching improves your website's conversion and reduces your expenses
You can spend countless hours customizing your website’s design and filling it with high-quality content, but unless it loads quickly for visitors, it won’t drive many sales or conversions. According to Google, over half of all mobile visitors will abandon a website if it takes longer than three seconds to load.
Whether a visitor is accessing your website on a smartphone or desktop computer, though, he or she will won’t wait forever for it to load. Long load times will result in more visitors abandoning your website on all devices. Thankfully, you can speed up your website by deploying caching.
What Is Caching?
Caching is a website optimization process that involves serving prebuilt files or data to visitors. It’s designed primarily to lower load times by eliminating or reducing the need for real-time processing and computations. Instead of processing visitors’ requests in real time, caching allows servers to serve static data.
Website servers typically process requests in real time, which can quickly eat up their allocated virtual resources. When a visitor attempts to access your website, his or her web browser will send a request to your server. Upon receiving this request, your server will then build the requested web page by fetching the necessary content, some of which may be located in files, databases or on 3rd parties servers.
Some of the most common forms of website caching include:
- Server-Side Web Caching: The server creates static copies of files that are normally generated dynamically, which it serves to visitors. Server-side web caching is a popular choice for websites powered by content management systems. This is also the principle which static websites generators are based on.
- Browser Caching: Visitors only download some or all of a web page’s files during their initial visit. When accessing the same page in the future, visitors’ web browsers will access the locally stored, cached copies of the files.
- Content Delivery Network (CDN) Caching: A geographically dispersed collection of servers are used to store and serve static files to visitors.
While there are different forms of caching, they all center around the use of prebuilt files or data to reduce load times for visitors.
Faster Load Times
With caching, your website will load more quickly for visitors. Dozens of factors can influence the time it takes a visitor to load a page on your website. A web page with a 20-minute high-definition (HD) video, for instance, will probably take longer to load than a web page with only text content.
The physical distance between a visitor and your server can also affect the amount of time he or she must wait for a page to load. The closer a visitor is to your server, the faster his or her web browser will load the page. Perhaps the most influential factor over load times, however, is the workload placed on your server.
If your website doesn’t use caching, your server will have to work harder to deliver content to visitors. When a visitor sends a request, your server must process by retrieving the necessary content and building the web page in real time. Caching streamlines the delivery of content by serving pre-built files, thereby lowering your website’s load times.
More Returning Visitors
Visitors are more likely to return to your website if it features caching. Long load times foster poor usability by preventing visitors from seamlessly navigating your website. When a visitor clicks a link to a page on your website, he or she must wait for it to load. If the page takes too long to load, the visitor may abandon your website in search of a faster site with similar content. And once the visitor has left your website due to load long times, he or she may not return.
You can encourage visitors to return your website by taking advantage of the speed-boosting benefits of caching. While results vary, it’s not uncommon for caching to reduce a website’s average load times by 200 percent to 300 percent. If it currently takes visitors six seconds to load a page on your website, the same page may load in just two or three seconds with caching enabled. As a result, visitors can navigate and use your website more effortlessly, which may compel them to return.
Higher Search Rankings
Because of its impact on load times, caching can complement your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy to drive your website’s organic listings higher in the search results.
Search engines rarely announce the specific factors, also known as signals, used by their algorithms to rank websites and pages. Their webmaster guidelines usually feature generic statements highlighting the importance of high-quality content and a positive user experience. Nonetheless, Google and Bing have both confirmed the use of speed as a ranking factor.
Google first publicly declared speed as a ranking factor used by its desktop algorithm in 2010. More recently, in 2018, Google released the aptly named “Speed Update” to its mobile algorithm. Bing has also followed suit by measuring speed to determine where websites and pages should rank in its index. For Google and Bing to rank your website high, you must optimize it to load quickly, something which with caching can assist.
Lower Web Hosting Costs
Caching can even save you money on web hosting costs. Web hosting services vary in price from just $3 per month to $300 per month. During the initial stages of your website’s rollout, an entry-level service, such as a $5-per-month shared web hosting package, should suffice. As your website grows, though, you may need to upgrade to a higher-priced package to support the increased traffic.
Caching can minimize your website’s hosting costs by allowing your server to process visitors’ requests more efficiently. Your server will consume less random access memory (RAM) and Central Processing Unit (CPU) power when processing visitors’ requests if it features caching, allowing you to use a low-priced web hosting package.
Regardless of what type of website you run, caching can improve its performance. It allows visitors to download prebuilt files to reduce the workload placed on your server. The end result is a faster website that attracts more returning visitors and ranks higher in the search results.