The majority of your clients’ WordPress websites will get low traffic.
This is down to statistics (a handful of sites get the majority of traffic). And also because most small business/personal sites don’t serve or target a huge audience anyway.
So this generally equates to maybe a few hundred page views a month on the low end, or a few thousand on the high end.
Very few websites serve tens of thousands of page views a day.
With that in mind, there are optimal server settings for low traffic (or we could just call them “normal”) sites.
And your visitors will thank you — the sites will be incredibly fast to load.
One of the best ways to do this is with a higher TTL cache.
What is TTL?
Time To Live determines how long a resolver will remember a DNS query, before the query expires and a new one is needed.
For example, when you want to update the location of a website’s domain (like entering in a new A record or mail records), it doesn’t happen instantaneously.
That’s because of your host’s TTL settings.
In our instant gratification world, we want everything to propagate on the internet at the speed of light. But that would bog down the world’s server resources, and you would see a massive slow down in the web.
That’s why your server caches certain things, and then allows for propagation of settings only when it’s okay to go live.
This is usually measured in seconds (ie. a day is 86400 seconds, an hour is 3600).
With a higher TTL cache, you will serve pages from the cache much more frequently, boosting the speed in which your site loads on the vast majority of your visitor’s browsers.
With a lower TTL, you have updates served more often to your site, and that means less cached information.
So now it becomes a balancing act of optimal performance versus the assurance that visitors will see all the latest updates.
The Implications Of A Higher TTL Cache
The more dynamic a site, the less you can get away with caching. And if content or settings are constantly changing, your TTL needs to be lower to reflect this.
On a static small business website (say a few updates per month), it’s a different story.
If you never planned on changing a site, you could theoretically set your cache to infinity. Your site would perform optimally due to pages and content not being constantly called on from the database.
Obviously a low traffic WordPress site will have more than zero changes, but it does allow you to get away with reasonably high TTL settings.
If you run the math on even 5,000 visitors a month, that’s not that many visitors per second. We did it for you — over 30 days, that works out to 0.0019 visitors per second.
Your TTL settings can be very high (a day or more), and your 0.0019 visitors per second will get served from the cache 99.99% of the time.
This uses less resources and you get a faster website.
Traditional Low Traffic Website Hosting
What is the first thing you think of when it comes to a low traffic web host?
If you said shared hosting, you’re not alone.
9 times out of 10, a shared host can handle the traffic requirements of a basic website, with a reasonable (not great) load time.
And the cache settings are typically higher.
However in many cases you will have to manually shift these settings and flush caches in order to get updates propagating quicker. Let’s say, to show edits to a client, share work among a remote team, or make a change via FTP.
This can be a pain, even on a reduced update cycle.
So there is a better way…
How Widepath Manages Cache Settings For Low Traffic
We have a built in solution that balances updates with performance.
By default, Widepath’s TTL settings are determined by an app server. If there’s no previous cache information, the TTL is set to one day (86400 seconds).
Then, when you do update your site, we use caching validation to update the TTL, flushing the cache, and updating the site automatically.
So, you get to keep your TTL settings high and experience the load speed benefits, while also getting updates propagated automatically without any extra work.
And for ultimate control, there is also a manual Purge Cache button in the dashboard of every site instance.
This purges everything across your primary domain. Useful for debugging problems or for complicated sites.
Customizing TTL With WordPress Plugins
Since we are talking about WordPress, there are also plenty of plugins that give you even more control over your cache.
Perhaps you have a page that is edited more frequently, or a section of your site that has an active social media feed.
Whatever the case, you can fiddle with the settings on a page by page (or object by object) basis.
Not every host will allow just any plugin. However, some of the more popular plugins include: W3 Total Cache, LiteSpeed, and Redis Object Cache.
Again, this is probably unnecessary for the majority of sites. But it’s nice to have options.
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As An Agency Or Freelancer, Optimizing For Low Traffic Is Going To Be The High-Percentage Play
Of course, you may run into exceptions (successful ecommerce/media/aggregators/forums). In that case, look to plugins or a specialized host that only focuses on mega traffic.
But to save time and effort, if you plan on managing more than a few sites, you may as well optimize for low traffic (just based on probability).
Higher TTL cache with auto updating validation is going to be an ideal combo of speed, consistency, and flexibility.
Need WordPress hosting with optimal cache settings?