Want to know if the WP Rocket plugin is worth your time and money? Then keep reading because you’re about to find out in this detailed WP Rocket review.
I started using WP Rocket to speed up my own WordPress website and sites belonging to clients last year in 2019.
Prior to that, I was using a combination of several free WordPress plugins that when combined get the same results as using the WP Rocket plugin alone …
And I can tell you right now before we get started with this review that making the change has and still does save me a lot of time.
I haven’t tracked exact numbers, but to give you a ballbark estimate, I’d say it’s a minimum of 5 hours per website. Sometimes more if one of the several plugins that I used to use caused a conflict with other plugins installed on a site I was optimizing.
So yes, if you value your time then WP Rocket is definitely worth it.
But is it worth your money?
To help you decide, in this WP Rocket review I will use an ‘unoptimized copy’ of this WordPress website, the blog mechanic, as a case study.
You will see the load time and performance scores of the site before and after installing the plugin to show you what kind of results you can expect.
And I will show you how to install and configure the plugin settings for optimal results, step by step.
Let’s get started. 🙂 Below are before and after screenshots.
Before WP Rocket
I used GTmetrix to test the load time and performance scores of the site.
As you can see the results are not good! A total load time of 6.3 seconds and an F PageSpeed score. (yuk!) That definitely needs improving.
Most people won’t wait longer than 4 seconds for a website to load. They’ll just click away from the site and go look somewhere else instead.
And with a PageSpeed score of just 47% as well as a slow load time, I doubt that Google will choose to show the site in search results anytime soon.
Now take a look at what happened after I installed and configured the plugin.
After WP Rocket
Boom! A massive difference, I’m sure you’ll agree?
Load time has gone from 6.3 seconds to 3.2 seconds and the Google PageSpeed score has jumped from an F to an A grade.
Plus, as an added bonus, the Yslow score which is the score given by Yahoo has also improved from a grade D to grade B.
To improve the load time and performance scores of YOUR WordPress website download WP Rocket today. Then follow along with this tutorial. I’ll show you how to properly install and configure it.
Note: if you don’t see improvements like mine on your own site that doesn’t mean the plugin isn’t working. In my experience, it’s likely because your images need scaling and optimizing.
WP Rocket Overview
WP Rocket is a premium plugin that will improve the load time and performance scores of your WordPress website in just a few clicks.
It has a reputation for being the most powerful caching plugin ever created by WordPress experts. But in my experience, that’s not entirely true.
WP Rocket is much more than just a caching plugin!
It is a complete set of website optimization tools you can use to fix known causes of website slowdown like the ones listed below.
- Eliminate render blocking resources
- Make fewer https requests
- Leverage browser caching
- Defer offscreen images
- Enable G-Zip Compression
- Plus more …
You can have the plugin installed and working for you in twenty minutes or less. And, it’s easy to use for non techie WordPress users.
Installing WP Rocket
After purchase, you will be given a link to download the plugin zip file.
You can also download the zip file by going to https://wp-rocket.me. On that page click the accounts tab at the top of the screen to login. Once logged in, click the license tab and you’ll see a download button.
With the zip file downloaded, from your WordPress admin dashboard, go to Plugins >> Add New and click Upload Plugin. Choose the WP Rocket zip file you just downloaded and click the Install Now button. Activate the plugin.
Next, go to Settings >> WP Rocket and you’ll be taken to the settings area for the WP Rocket plugin.
WP Rocket Settings
On the settings page you will see a message saying that WP Rocket is activated and already working for you.
For most websites, the default settings that are applied when the plugin is activated will improve the load time and performace scores of your site …
But for best results you need to tweak the plugin settings. Keep reading and I’ll show you how to do that now.
#1. WP Rocket Caching
I won’t get in to all the technicalities of how these different types of caching work because I’m guessing that you’re here to learn if WP Rocket really will help speed up your site – not to get a phd in caching, right?
But if you do want to know more about how the WP Rocket cache helps speed up your WordPress website, see the provided links above.
Let’s take a look at the settings.
On the cache tab, there are three optional settings.
1. Separate cache files for mobile devices
If your WordPress theme is not mobile responsive and you’re using a different theme for mobile visitors or a plugin like WPtouch, you should turn this option on.
You should also turn this option on if the mobile version of your site has features that the desktop version doesn’t, like additional navigation menus for example.
When you active this option, WP Rocket creates a different cache file for mobile visitors only. Without it, mobile visitors could end up seeing the desktop version of your site, and vice versa.
2. User Cache
If people have to login to your site to access restricted content, or you have a WooCommerce shop, you’ll want to turn this option on.
When you enable it, WP Rocket creates dedicated cache files for each logged-in WordPress user, making sure they can see the right content.
3. Cache Lifespan
In most cases, the default setting of 10 hours will work just fine.
Cache lifespan is the number of hours that cached files stay cached for before WP Rocket automatically deletes and rebuilds the cache.
But if you have a very busy site with lots of registered WordPress users and comments, and you update and add new content to your site several times throughout a typical day, then you might want to reduce the number of hours.
#2. File Optimization
File optimization is my favourite WP Rocket feature and here’s why …
- Eliminate render blocking resources
- Make fewer https requests
- Defer parsing of Javascipt
Although worded differently, each of these suggestions mean the same thing.
Sound complicated, doesn’t it? And it is without the right tools …
But WP Rocket makes it a lot eaiser than all the other solutions that I have tried. And I’ve tried and tested a lot of them over the years. That said …
You still need to be careful with the file optimization settings because they can cause errors on some sites. But don’t worry …
If anything breaks after activating the settings, all you have to do is deactivate them and your site will return back to normal again.
Let’s configure the settings now.
1. Minify and Combine HTML Files
First Activate all three settings and Save your changes. Clear the WP Rocket cache, and Review your site to make sure nothing looks broken.
Most people won’t have any issues with the html settings. But if you do, it will most likely be with the formatting of design elements on your WordPress theme. For example, post navigation buttons on the blog archive page.
If that happens to you, turn Minify HTML off. Save your changes and review the site again. In my experience, that will fix any issues you may have.
2. Minify and Combine CSS Files
Minifying and combining CSS files is more likely to cause errors than minifying and combining html files. So this time, when you select the minify option, you’ll see a warning.
If you have a high traffic site and you’re worried it will break, you may want to test the changes first on a staging environment which is just an exact copy of your site, on a subdomain name, on your web hosting account.
But in my experience that’s not necessary because like I’ve already said, when you deactivate the settings your site will return back to normal again.
Activate all the CSS settings. Save your changes. Clear the WP Rocket cache and Review your site.
If something breaks, don’t panic! Just deactivate combining of CSS files and check the site again. First though, save your changes and clear the cache.
If turning Combine CSS Files off doesn’t fix site errors, try deactivating Minify CSS Files. That’ll fix it.
Note: if optimizing CSS files result in site errors, that doesn’t mean you can’t use WP Rocket to minify and combine CSS. You can exclude the CSS files that are being effected. If you get suck, I can help. Contact me for a free quote.
3. Minify, Combine, and Defer JS Files
To configure the settings, Activate them all and Save your changes. Clear your cache and review your site.
After deactivating each setting, save your changes and clear the cache.
#3. Lazy Loading Images and Videos
Media files like images and videos slow down page load time (a lot!) because the browser has to download each one before it can fully load the page.
To fix this, you can use WP Rocket to lazy load images and videos.
When you lazy load media files, the browser doesn’t have to download them all before loading the page. Instead, it waits until the user scrolls down the page which reduces the number of http requests.
And if you have a lot of YouTube videos on pages and posts, you can use WP Rocket’s media settings to replace YouTube iframes with preview images …
Doing so can significantly improve performance because the video is only loaded by the browser when a user clicks the play button.
On the media tab, Activate all the LazyLoad options. Save your changes. Clear your cache. And Review your site.
Also on the media tab …
To reduce the number of https requests even further you’ll want to Disable Emoji’s and WordPress Embeds.
And, if you’re using a plugin like WebP Express to serve WebP images which is not always possible on some servers, select that option too.
Note: on some websites that have an image logo, enabling lazy load on images may cause your site header to behave strangely when switching between pages. Should that happen to you, exclude your logo from lazy loading.
#4. Fine Tune Cache Preloading
By default, when you first activate WP Rocket, the plugin starts crawling your site and preloading a cached copy of your content which is a great start …
But the plugin can only preload cached copies of content that it finds by following links on your homepage.
You might not link to all pages and posts from your homepage. That means some pages and posts may be missed until they are requested by a user.
To help WP Rocket quickly find and preload a cache for every single page and post on your site, you can tell it to use your XML sitemap.
WP Rocket automatically detects sitemaps generated by popular SEO plugins like Yoast SEO, All in One SEO Pack, and SEOPress.
Alternatively, you can manually add the URL to your sitemap.
What does preloading a cache mean? Glad you asked 😉
Preloading the cache means that all website visitors are quickly served a cached copy of your content, even if they are first time visitors. And even if a specific piece of content is being viewed on your site for the very first time.
#5: Advanced Caching Rules
For most websites, the default cache settings will work just fine.
But if you have a complex site, there may be some pages that you’ll never want to cache, like registration and custom login and logout pages.
In which case, you can exclude pages from caching in one of two ways.
1. Use the page editor
From the WordPress admin dashboard go to Pages >> All Pages. Under the Page Title of the page you want to exclude, click the Edit Link.
Next, in the Right Sidebar, click Never Cache This Page. Click the Update button towards the top of the screen. Then, Clear the WP Rocket cache.
To exclude a post, you do the same, but this time go to Posts >> All Posts instead.
2. Use WP Rocket Advanced Rules Tab
The second way is to go to the Advanced Rules tab and Specify the URL of the page or post you want to exclude in the Never Cache URL(s) section.
You don’t have to enter full URL. You only have to enter everything that comes after the trailing forward slash, like this …
Note: if you use an eCommerce plugin like Easy Digital Downloads and WooCommerce, WP Rocket will detect and exclude shopping cart and checkout pages for you, so you don’t have to.
If you’re unsure about these settings, just leave them blank.
#6: Database Optimization
A large database can slow down your site because it takes longer for the server to find the information it needs from the WordPress database tables.
By removing data that’s no longer needed from the database tables, the server can find the information it needs much quicker.
As a result, your website will load faster.
Go to the Database tab and Select All the settings but Not Auto Drafts. You’ll need to keep those. Scroll down and click the Optimize Button.
When that’s done, to save some time, you can schedule future database cleanups to run daily, weekly or monthly.
Note: Whether you use WP Rocket to manually cleanup your database occassionally or you schedule regular cleanups, changes to the database cannot be undone. Backup your database so you can restore it if needed.
#7: Self Host Google Analytics and Facebook Pixels
When you analyze the performance of your website using tools like GTmetrix and Pingdom, you will see a suggestion to leverage browser caching.
But you can only cache files that are hosted on your own server. You can’t cache files and scripts hosted by a third party.
So if like most WordPress users, you’ve got tracking scripts for Google Analytics and Facebook Pixels on your site …
Your ability to get the best possible performance scores for this suggestion is limited and that’s frustrating.
But not anymore!
Now you can use WP Rocket to self host the tracking scripts for Google Analytics and Facebook Pixels. And in my experience, only WP Rocket can help you do this.
Go to the ADD-ONS tab and I’ll show you just how easy it is.
Now switch the status for Google Tracking and Facebook Pixels to on.
And that’s it!
You have now configured the WP Rocket plugin for optimal results.
What I Like The Most About WP Rocket
What I like the most about WP Rocket is: you don’t have to download and install several different plugins to optimize your site. It has all the features you need to improve website load time, neatly packaged into one plugin.
And if you get stuck, they provide comprehensive documentation which you can find at this link: https://docs.wp-rocket.me/. The documentation will help you with everything from plugin setup to troubleshooting compatibility issues.
What I Don’t Like About WP Rocket
For me personally, I don’t find it difficult to exclude images and files, but for people who are not techie, it can be a complicated and time consuming task.
But you don’t have to worry about that because you have access to The Blog Mechanic for help if you need it. 😉
Looking For a WP Rocket Coupon Code?
Unfortuntely, at this time, WP Rocket are not offering a discount coupon code. I’m watching them like a halk though and as soon as they do, I will add it to this WP Rocket Review.
WP Rocket Review: Conclusion
As you can see from the before and after screeshots in this review and case study, WP Rocket will speed up your website and if it doens’t, even after configuring all the settings like I’ve shown you, they offer a 30 day money back guarantee. So you have nothing to lose.
Yes, it’s possible to speed up your website using nothing but free WordPress plugins, but it will take you a lot longer and you’ll likely find that the plugins you install will conflict with other plugins on your site, unlike WP Rocket.
I hope this WP Rocket Review has helped you decide if the plugin is really worth using. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a quick and easy way to improve website performance. So …
If you’re ready to speed up your site, click here to try WP Rocket today.