Speed is a good thing and everyone knows that. If you’re running a website or blog and you want your readers to spend more time reading your articles, then you’ll probably want to improve your website performance (speed).

Every webmaster knows the importance of making sure web pages are loading up as quickly as possible. If a user isn’t having a great experience on your site or blog pages, he/she may not stay longer on your site. It’s important to improve your website performance by decreasing the time it takes for your webpages to finish loading up. The shorter the better.

Google recommends that you improve your site’s performance. In fact, Google will promote websites with faster pages over those that are slow. Webmasters who want to rank better on Google’s search engine result pages must optimize their blogs or websites for speed.

There are many ways to speed up websites. Some use faster WordPress themes, fewer WordPress plugins, better web hosts, content delivery networks (CDNs) and caching plugins for WordPress. One could implement all of these to achieve the best results.

My approach has always been to use all of the above features and services, except CDN.. Content delivery networks are great if you can afford them. I can do better without CDN just by installing faster themes, fewer plugins, using a great web host and using W3 Total Cache plugin for WordPress.

This brief tutorial is going to show you how I’m using W3 Total Cache plugin on this blog to speed it up. It may not be the fastest website online, but good enough to achieve below 3 seconds loading time from most locations.

This site is also doing well on Google Search Engine result pages, so I am happy.

The one thing I want to demonstrate is how to use W3 Total Cache plugin correctly when using WordPress. Here’s also something that may come as a surprise to you.. W3 Total Cache is optimized for Apache2 web server. It functions better with Apache2 than any other web servers.

Since we’re using Nginx web server on this blog, implementing W3 Total Cache for our site wasn’t as intuitive as doing the same with Apache2.

To properly use W3 Total Cache, install it and follow the direction on its WordPress plugin page.

Make sure wp-content/ and wp-content/uploads/ (temporarily) have 777 permissions before proceeding, e.g. in the terminal: # chmod 777 /var/www/wp-content/using your web hosting control panel or your FTP / SSH account.

Then, configure the sittings that are best for your hosting environment. In most cases the default settings will work. If you understand the plugin well, you can configure more advanced settings for your site.

After making all the correct changes to your site and everything is functioning, set the permissions of wp-content and wp-content/uploads back to 755, e.g. in the terminal: # chmod 755 /var/www/wp-content/.

That’s the installation instruction.

Now for those installing in a Nginx environment, you’ll be asked to create a file called nginx.conf in the web root directory. In that file will be W3 Total Cache configuration settings for your server. Do it. When all the settings are saved, the one last thing that must people using Nginx make is not to include or incorporate the config file (nginx.conf) in Nginx’s configurations.

To include W3 Total Cache settings in Nginx’s, open Nginx default site file, usually at /etc/nginx/conf.d/defaults.conf.

Then add the line include /var/www/html/nginx.conf 

at the bottom of the file, just before the last close bracket }

Save the file and you’re done. Restart Nginx and you’re all set.

By using a light WordPress theme, fewer plugins and optimizing W3 Total Cache with Nginx, you’ll be able to achieve better results with your site performance.