W3 Total Cache is GREAT

2014-06-21 peppers June 20 2014First of all, W3 Total Cache is a valuable, free plugin that you can easily use for your WordPress site or blog. That said, there are important reasons to invest in adding W3 Total Cache Pro and having a W3 Edge professional configure for you.

To see why the investment makes sense, and good dollars and cents, let me explain using my site, Health-Boundaries to illustrate.

Basically, my site is about vitamin B12 and how B12 contributes to the health of your nerves and blood cells. I created Health-Boundaries because of the terrible effects low vitamin B12 had on my well being. If only I’d known about vitamin B12 and how it works to protect nerves and all their functions, I’d be vastly healthier today.

A key feature of my site is the way it shows you how you can monitor your vitamin B12 level by referencing signs visible in your fingernails. There are a lot of sites with similar information today, but when I began my site a decade ago, my site was innovative.

I had seen specific changes in my fingernails that seemed to correlate with my nerve health. By keeping records to include symptoms, B12 shots, and B12 tests, I was able to see that vitamin B12 affected how my fingernails looked. Once I recognized that it was a fact, not something I imagined, I began taking pictures of my fingernails so that anyone who was experiencing symptoms of low B12 could compare their fingernails to the pictures I’d taken, and have hope ~ real hope and real health improvement. At least, if they began using B12.

Luckily there was one quote on the internet, that I found by using Google, that talked about fingernails and vitamin B12:

Good vitamin B12 levels give you white moons on all your fingers; the thumbs’ are the last to go. (Tessa Jupp, R.N., active in the Post-Polio Network, Dec. 2001).

I backed it and my experience up with cites from relevant research and studies.

All of which is great, except that competition in the field today is about as dense on the ground as runners in the Portland Marathon. And, as you know, the winner is the fastest.

With all the pictures on my site, it was slow to load. To speed it up I “optimized” my pictures, trusting that the loss in detail was barely noticeable to the human eye. I mean, that’s what the blurbs said.

Optimizing pictures made my site faster, but the details that people needed to be able to see in order to understand how low B12 and B12 replacement affect nails were largely gone.

Whereas my site had once had 1,000 visitors a day ~ when everyone had relatively slow-loading sites ~ once other sites gained speed my site fell off the Google radar. I would get maybe 167 visits in a day.

Implicit in that low figure is the reality that a lot of sites with less carefully presented and less accurate information were being seen and influencing people, while my site was languishing and so were the people who needed its specific information.

This is where W3 Total Cache Pro and W3 Edge expert configuration come into the race.

In order to get the very best out of W3 Total Cache, for the benefit of visitors to my site, I paid for the Pro version, which was $99, and I paid $150 for a W3 Edge expert to configure for me. Given that my social security income is under $700/mo. that was a large investment. I justified it on the basis of the good my site would do if more people saw it, which they would only do if it were fast enough for Google to show it in search results.

Here’s my Pingdom speed test done today, May 26, 2014:

health boundaries pingdom

That’s less than two seconds and that’s with excellent quality pictures.

Now, let me be clear, the W3 Edge Expert tweeked and configured and that was great, but he also did a wonderful job of explaining to me that all the categories listed by PageSpeed Insights were mainly for the benefit of website developers. He impressed upon me that what affected people coming to my site was speed, not my talent, or lack thereof, in handling javascript, css and other heady tech stuff.

He also introduced me to GTMetrix. You can easily test your site’s speed on GTMetrix here.

Whereas PageSpeed Insights has a few hugely worrying categories, GTMetrix shows a long list of elements affecting page loading times. So, while I don’t understand “javascript” there are a lot of things that I can understand and work on to further improve my site’s delivery time.

You can test your site or blog on PageSpeed Insights here.

If you’d like to test your site’s speed on Pingdom, here’s the Pingdom link.

Once you begin to work on your speed, after W3 Total Cache Pro has been installed, activated and configured, your changes may not appear for ten hours or so, due to the caching. Just so you know.

Today my site is receiving nearly a thousand page visits a day. I could not have achieved that without the help of the W3 Edge Expert who configured my site with W3 Total Cache Pro and helped me understand my job in further improving my speed.

If you speak Geek and thrive on the programming side of your site, you may not need a W3 Edge expert the way I did. For me, it was one of my best decisions ~ Ever.

6/22/2014 ~ Sometimes when you use WordPress JetPack and W3 Total Cache your admin bar may appear along the top of a page someone is visiting. While the person can’t edit your page, even though they are offered the option, because of course they can’t sign in, it may pose a problem if you use Google AdSense.

Apparently if the visitor clicks on a Google ad, it looks to AdSense as if you clicked on the ad, given that the Admin bar is on the top of the page.

Because I use iPage’s WP Essential, I was able to call and have a tech correct the problem for me.

Because I have five websites, the tech made the changes without me on the line, then sent me the following email:

I have adjusted the w3 total cache plugin settings and enabled "Don't cache pages for logged in users" which will prevent the admin bar showing up, unless you actually log in as the administrator.  This change can take up to 24 hours before it will take effect (but more likely will occur within 4-6 hours).
Thanks,
WPE Support
Bother, I can't get the font to return to that I was using prior to the quote. Be thatas it may, I responded that I don't require visitors to log in. The tech replied,
No, sorry for being unclear -- the admin bar will now only display for the administrator.  The site will still function the same for everyone else they just will no longer be able to see the admin bar.

 

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