What You Should Know About Expires Headers in WordPress
Have you ever come across an article that recommended using expires headers? If you did, then you probably already know how important they can be for your website. Google, and other search engines, emphasized the importance of site speed and responsiveness for search rankings. Since all efforts of SEO are dedicated to ranking high in search result pages, using expires headers is considered one of the best methods that any WordPress website owner should follow.
So, if you happen to have a WordPress site and are curious to know more about Expires Headers, here is all you need to know.
What Are Expires Headers?
Simply put, expires headers can help browsers know whether resources on a website need to be requested from the source itself or acquired from the browser’s cache. Usually, the browser will store all resources when you use expired headers such as jpeg images, for example, so when the next visitor comes into your website, these images will be readily displayed, and the page will load faster than it did the first time. The thing that website visitors and internet surfers hate the most is slow loading. Thus, using expires headers can improve the functionality of your website and its loading speed. With a faster loading rate, your website will be more likely to have a better ranking in Google’s search results.
Browser caching is the method with which your browser stores or caches resources to improve any website’s speed. They work by sending a request to a server when loading a website, which prompts the server to send the required resources. For the sake of speeding the loading process, browsers use expires headers to identify and fetch resources that can be loaded from the browser’s already cached data. If you’re not sure how this works for your website, you can check out GTMetrics, which is a website that is dedicated to optimizing your website’s performance. By viewing the reports on GTMetrics, you will be able to tell whether or not you need to use expires headers to speed up your website’s loading rate.
How Can I Add Expires Headers to My Website?
If you have a WordPress website, then you’re in luck, as you have one of the best systems of content management. This means that you’ll have multiple methods of fixing issues on your website. Expires headers are one of the best methods to help your load faster. The WordPress specialists at AliveBetter.com explain that there are two ways with which you can add Expires Headers: manually and with plugins. The former method involves using services, such as Apache, which is the easiest method to add expires headers to your website, CDN Systems, or NGINX. However, if your technical skills are rusty, you can choose a plugin to add expires headers for you. Hummingbird, for example, can help you add as many expires headers as you want without a hassle; thus, optimizing your website’s speed.
How Do They Help with SEO?
As we mentioned earlier, improving your website’s loading speed will improve its functionality and make your website rank higher in search engine results. Let’s face it, no one would waste their time browsing a slow website when they can have a faster website that provides them with the same information. Therefore, by using expires headers, you’ll be taking one step ahead of your competitors. Making your website rank higher will help in generating more traffic as well. There are several tools that you can use to monitor your website’s loading speed, like Google Pagespeed, Yslow, Pingdom Tools, and much more.
Using expires headers will certainly be good for your site. However, there are drawbacks to using them as well. One major disadvantage is glaringly obvious, which is if you set up a resource to expire far into the future and make updates for your website, your visitors won’t be able to see these updates until the date of expiration of that header. Thus, you’ll have to coordinate updates with the expiration time of these headers. Ecommerce websites in particular suffer the consequences of that problem. For example, if a returning visitor goes back to the website to add a product to their cart, the cart will show old pictures of products and not the recently added ones.
With that said, every website will function differently. Sometimes it may not even be necessary for resources to be cached. Either way, you will need to determine first whether or not your website is generally slow. If it is slow, you should consider this information first before deciding to whether to add expires headers immediately. Understanding expires caching and when to time their expiration date can be too complicated a task, so make sure that you consider your options carefully.