Out of the box, WordPress sites can be slow-loading. This presents a problem, because Google penalizes slow sites in their search rankings. Even if someone finds your page, Google research has shown that people will leave a site if it takes more than three seconds to come up. I didn’t have the prescience to take a screenshot, but before implementing W3 Total Cache and Cloudflare, I believe my site was taking upwards of five seconds to load.
With these two tools, my site now loads in around two seconds.
No need to reinvent the wheel, so instead, I’ll link to the instructions I used to optimize my site. It even has a settings file you can import to save time. (Note: I did not use the instructions included for StackPath, which is a paid CDN.)
W3 Total Cache
W3 Total Cache is a caching plugin for WordPress. A caching plugin creates a static version of your webpages and delivers them to your visitors. So when a visitor comes back to your site, the plugin will send a static HTML file to their browser instead of loading the whole page once again. Since the cached page is already on their computer, it appears almost instantly.
Cloudflare is a content delivery network (CDN). A CDN is a geographically distributed group of servers (and data centers) which work together to provide fast delivery of Internet content. It allows for the accelerated loading of HTML pages, images, videos, and other website content. (More from Cloudflare)
Although there are paid upgrades available, both W3 Total Cache and Cloudflare are free to use. I personally decided to take advantage of Cloudflare’s Argo service, which leverages real-time network intelligence to route traffic (both static and dynamic content) across the fastest, most reliable paths. This particular service costs $5 a month. Cloudflare has servers in China, and I believe this will help speed up delivery for my customers who are located in Japan.
As a bonus, for improving my YSlow score, I used the Autoptimize plugin. It helps shrink your jss and css.