Making WordPress Sites Faster

2020Media has been supporting WordPress website hosting for many years now, but we are always looking for ways to improve the service. We’ve recently added a component we think is making a noticeable impact on website performance and this blog post is to share some details about this.

Caching – what is it

By default, each time a page on your WordPress website is accessed by a visitor, the content is generated dynamically with lots going on in the background, including multiple database queries and code executions.

A caching plugin will create a static version of your content, removing many of the steps that take place when a page is generated dynamically. The result of this is faster loading times and happier visitors.

Some things should not be cached however – for example a shopping cart. You would not want someone else’s shopping basket replacing yours. Or if you have a members area, each member’s details must remain private. So any solutions must ensure that personalised content is not cached.

Why Cache?

Simply put, caching speeds up your website. When it comes to page speed and loading times, an improvement of just a single second can have huge implications for your bottom line. For example, back in 2012, Amazon estimated that if their website loaded just one second slower it would cost them $1.6 billion in sales; and this number has surely only increased since then.

You’re probably not operating quite on Amazon’s scale, but slow loading times are still costly. According to Kissmetrics, 40% of your visitors will lose patience and leave your site if your pages take more than three seconds to load. A single second of delay can reduce your conversions by 7%.

Furthermore, Google uses page speed as a factor when determining where to rank your content in its search engine results pages. So, if you want greater search engine visibility and more traffic from sites like Google, you need to speed up your website.

No matter the purpose of your website – whether it’s to promote products and services or simply build an audience – higher bounce rates, reduced conversion rates, and decreased search engine rankings hurt.

Caching for WordPress

There are dozens of caching plugins built for WordPress, along with a number of technical solutions that operate outside of WordPress – for example at the server level, or at the network level.

2020Media wants the best possible result, so we offer a combination of all these to our customers.

  1. Network Level: We include Cloudflare CDN (free and paid plan levels) to offer caching of static content
  2. Server Level: We setup and maintain PHP and MySQL (database) applications to include caching of compiled code and database queries
  3. WordPress Level: We install and monitor WordPress caching plugins to generate static pages which can be served to users with the lowest possible latency.

Caching Plugins We Use

We use two caching plugins currently. These offer a good balance between performance, cost and what we would call “hassle factor”

WP-Rocket

WP-Rocket consistently outperforms all other WordPress caching plugins.

Average Improvement in Speed Tests
Average Improvement in Speed Tests

The downside is that is a paid plugin – and does not have a free version to get the basics.

Aside: This is unusual as most WordPress plugins that have a “Pro” or paid version usually offer a free version of some kind, with various features missing or crippled. That WP-Rocket does not do this, for us speaks of their confidence in their product – they simply don’t need to offer temptations and nagging screens to get people to buy in – their product is so effective it speaks for itself.

Even so, the price of the plugin for a single site is not that high – no more than most other paid WordPress add-ons, so we think it offers excellent value for money.

Learn More about WP Rocket

Cachify

Cachify is a free WordPress plugin that does caching and nothing else. Although Cachify has been around for many years, it has a small install base compared to other caching plugins in the WordPress. However we find it’s simplicity is it’s strength. Performance-wise it stacks up comparably with other WordPress plugins – see graph above and these:

Page Speed Scores
Page Speed Scores
Speed Test Load Time Improvement
Speed Test Load Time Improvement

So what makes Cachify stand out amongst other plugins with comparable performance. Simply put it’s the ethos and practice of the plugin developer. As they say on their site:

Cachify does not offer the functionality of some industry-specific plug-ins. However the caching plugin does the job perfectly and very reliably. And this with very minimal resources and manageable code. This makes it clear and fast.

This is exactly what we need and nothing more, for the majority of websites hosted at 2020Media.com. There are no “paid”, “pro”, “enterprise” versions of this plugin – you get 100% of the features included.

Download Cachify for WordPress

Summary

We’re always looking for ways to make our WordPress Hosting continue to stand out – not just exceptional customer service, UK datacentres and great value for money, but to make the websites we host the best they possible can be.

We find caching dynamic websites by default improves performance and this translates into improved sales, leads, conversions and page rankings for our customers.

Read more about our WordPress hosting plans at https://www.2020media.com/wordpress-hosting/managed-wordpress-hosting/ or contact us if you would like to know more.

Other plugins and comparison in detail

This site provided useful data on the plugins discussed here: https://athemes.com/performance/best-wordpress-caching-plugins/

Joomla  4 Celebration – User Group Meetup

If you build websites using Joomla, head over to a special online event marking the release of Joomla 4, held by the Joomla User Group, JoomlaLondon

This event includes involvment from the Release leads from 4.0, 4,1 as well as appearances by key figures from Joomla 3 and 5! If that wasn’t enough, Robert Deutz, President of Joomla! will also be attending.

The evening will start at 19:00 UTC. That’s 19:00 GMT for those in the UK.

Registration:

https://www.joomlalondon.co.uk/jugl

A reminder that 2020Media provides Joomla Hosting and ongoing Tech Support for Joomla sites. Check out our plans at https://www.2020media.com/web-hosting/shared-hosting/joomla-hosting/

Google Analytics Ruled Illegal In Austria

The Austrian Data Protection Authority (“Datenschutzbehörde” or “DSB” or “DPA”) has ruled that Austrian website providers using Google Analytics are in violation of the GDPR.

This ruling stems from a decision made in 2020 by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) that stated that cloud services hosted in the US are incapable of complying with the GDPR and EU privacy laws. The decision was made because of the US surveillance laws requiring US providers (like Google or Facebook) to provide personal data to US authorities.

The 2020 ruling, known as “Schrems II”, marked the ending of the Privacy Shield, a framework that allowed for EU data to be transferred to US companies that became certified.

About the Austrian DPA’s Model Case

In this specific case, noyb (the European Center for Digital Rights) found that IP addresses (which are classified as personal data by the GDPR) and other identifiers were sent to the US in cookie data as a result of the organisation using Google Analytics.

This model case led to the DPA’s decision to rule that Austrian website providers using Google Analytics are in violation of GDPR. It is believed that other EU Member States will soon follow in this decision as well.

“We expect similar decisions to now drop gradually in most EU member states. We have filed 101 complaints in almost all Member States and the authorities coordinated the response. A similar decision was also issued by the European Data Protection Supervisor last week.”

Max Schrems, honorary chair of noyb.eu

What does this mean if you are using Google Analytics?

If there is one thing to learn from this case, it is that ignoring these court rulings and continuing to use Google Analytics is not a viable option.

If you are operating a website in Austria, or your website services Austrian citizens, you should remove Google Analytics from your website immediately.

For businesses in other EU Member States, it is also highly recommended that you take action before noyb and local data protection authorities start targeting more businesses.

2020Media uses Matomo On-Premise Analytics as part of our Managed WordPress service, meaning two things:

  • Setup is done automatically for you.
  • Full compliance with GDPR and Data Protection Rules because your website data is held entirely within the UK.

Find out more about 2020Media’s hosting services at https://www.2020media.com/#web-plans

How to Use Web Analytics to Improve SEO – read the Matomo blog post about making the most of your web stats here.

UK has 2nd highest number of domains per head

The UK has been revealed to have the second highest number of domains per head of population.

A survey of domain registry data from around the world ranks only the Netherlands with higher domain name ownership.

Source: Domainity: Domain quantity per 1000 people – Site.pro

Statistics always need a bit of unpicking and you’ll see that two exclusions are made –

Does domain pricing have an impact?

Certainly domain pricing the UK and Netherlands for their own country domain name, .uk and .nl is low compared to many countries, but Switzerland (.ch) pricing is comparable to what you pay for a .com or .org domain. However the statistics collected include all “flavours” of domain extension (we think), so the graph is really a good overview of domain name usage as a whole and pricing should not make too much of a difference.

What does the future hold?

An annual survey from Afnic, shows the number of domain names registered and held continues to grow year by year.

The global domain name market accounted for approximately 349 million domain names at the end of December 2020, up 1.3% compared to the 4.7% in 2019, broken down between:

155 million .com and 32 million other Legacy TLD (.net, .org, .biz, etc.)

130 million ccTLDs (country TLDs, corresponding to a territory or country like the .fr domain)

32 million new TLDs or nTLDs (geoTLD, brand TLDs and community TLDs and generic TLDs created after 2012).

Undoubtedly domain name usage will continue to grow as more businesses and individuals launch websites and email for themselves. 2020Media can help you with your search for the perfect domain, just contact us at www.2020media.com/contact.

Nominet UK Registry Advisory Council Result

The election results for the newly formed UK Registry Advisory Council have been released and we are delighted that Rex Wickham of 2020Media has been elected as one of the “large” registrar category representatives for a 2 year term.

Andy Green, new Chair of Nominet, wrote

“It is an important body that will bring industry perspective, insight and knowledge to Nominet’s decision-making. There are substantive policy issues to tackle as the council gets underway, including how we release expired domains. I also look forward to the council’s input as we develop plans to re-establish the forum. “

As Rex wrote in his election statement, he is committed to seeing Nominet enact real change and hopes the UK RAC can make a meaninful contribution to doing that. Rex added:

“I am delighted to have been elected to the Council and will honour my commitment to hearing from Nominet members of all sizes and business models. There is a long road ahead but with a broad base of support for change, I am optimistic and look forward to working with my fellow Council members.”

Nominet members are welcome to contact Rex about UKRAC matters using ukrac@2020media.com. If you’d like a call instead please drop a line first and he’ll make contact.