You probably know that speed is crucial to get more traffic and sales.
In fact, research suggests that...
- 40% of customers abondon a website that takes over 3 seconds to load
- Every 1 second improvement in page load time increases conversions by 7%
WP Rocket is one of the best WordPress plugins in terms of website speed improvement, ease of use, support, updates and extra features. The only downside is that it comes at a cost of $49 for one website for a year. This auto renews each year with a 30% discount, but for the features and speed improvements you get, it’s hard to beat.
I was getting fed up with trying different things to try and speed up my website and didn't want to hire an expensive web developer.
So I figured I'd try it out a plugin recommended by guest on my podcast and was so impressed (eventually) that I thought I'd write a WP Rocket plugin review...
WP Rocket Plugin Review 2020
The overview and rankings
Name: WP Rocket
Type: WordPress Caching Plugin
Price: $49 for one website, $99 for 3 websites, $249 for unlimited websites
Best for: Anyone with a website
WP Rocket Pros
WP Rocket Cons
Make Time Online Rating: 95 out of 100
WP Rocket made this site 62% faster
The only way you can tell if something is worth it is to test it yourself.
So I did!
After having numerous recommendations to try WP Rocket, I figured... why not? Here was my website speed on GTmetrix before WP Rocket...
And here is the speed after...
Just look at the change in total page size and requests!
But I didn't just test one page on my site. I tested mobile and desktop speed for the same 10 pages on my site.
You can find out the exact results in the 8 minute video below...
Plus, in case you're wondering, here is what I use on my website...
Important information about this website:
- Host- Wealthy Affiliate (see my WA review here)
- Theme- Thrive Themes (see my Thrive review here)
- Plugin replaced - BJ Lazy Load (I had tried and removed W3 Cache and WP Supere Cache as Wealthy Affiliate has their own site speed caching feature and neither improved speed. I also tested a ton of free lazy load plugins)
- Other plugins used: Smush (image optimizer), GA Dashboard, WP SEO Schema, Yoast SEO
You may be thinking... so what?! It improved your website speed but will it do the same for mine?
Well, like I already said, you will only know if you try it out.
So let's dig into what it actually does...
What is WP Rocket?
WP Rocket is actually way more than just a WordPress caching plugin.
That's because it stands out compared to alternative free caching plugins in 3 main ways:
- The easy to use interface
- Adding tons of smaller performance improvements that makes your website load faster
- Great support
Here is the bottom line about WP Rocket...
It will make your website load faster.
They even have a 14 day money back guarantee. So if you do not see any improvements you can cancel your membership and get your money back! #riskfree
(I actually almost did this after 2 days as I'll explain later...)
Why is website speed important?
I had personally been sitting on a website that loaded in under 5 seconds on most pages. I was pretty happy with that considering I hadn't spent a penny on any web developers or plugins.
But then I was doing some research into why site speed matters.
Here are the two things that made me realise I needed to take this more seriously...
1. Google rewards fast websites
Google announced in 2010 that your website speed is now a ranking factor in their algorithm.
Even if that didn't matter just look at what happens to the bounce rate of a website when the load time gets worse...
The simple fact is that if you have a website that loads quicker it means your audience is far more likely to actually wait around to read the content that you've spent ages creating!
And this will inevitably have an...
2. Impact on the bottom line
Hosting Tribunal suggest that a 1 second load time delay can mean:
- 11% less page views
- 7% conversion rate drop
- $2.5 million revenue dropped if your site makes $100k a day
We are living in a fast paced world where speed can make all the difference. So wouldn't it be wise to spend your efforts on something you actually have control over?
Here's the breakdown of how WP Rocket can help improve your site speed...
15 WP Rocket features
There are so many features and benefits to using WP Rocket. Before I break down what these are you need to actually install the plugin.
To start you just need to do 3 things...
- Go to WP Rocket, purchase the plugin & download it
- Upload it to WordPress plugins
- Activate it and go to WordPress settings --> WP Rocket
That should only take 5 minutes.
However, the next part requires some tweaking. So here are the main features that can really help to speed up your website.
Each screenshot shows the settings that helped my website the most. You will likely need to try and test the different settings for your own website though.
Check out the video above and you can see how ticking some boxes actually made my website slower... so you can't just tick everything and hope it helps.
Disclaimer- I genuinley know hardly any techie things so all of this is from research when I installed WP Rocket. I've tried to keep this in simple English rather than weird techie terms, to explain what each fearture does.
1. Enable caching
Browser caching speeds up your site for returning visitors who visit many pages.
Simply put, WP Rocket stores the files needed on your server. So they do not need to load every time someone visits your site.
All you need to do is tick a box...
Your website logo doesn't need to be downloaded every time someone visits a different page. It can just be downloaded once in a while to save your audience:
There are tons of other files that will be the same around your website.
Therefore, caching is a great way to speed up your page load time.
I found the mobile caching made the biggest difference. I almost asked for a refund until I realised the difference this made!
2. Google fonts optimization
Under the "file optimization" tab there are more checkboxes for you to try out.
One of the main features here is optimizing Google fonts...
Google fonts are really popular (and something this website uses), but they can be a massive drain on your site's speed.
WP Rocket "combines" the Google fonts, which means there are fewer HTTP requests (aka your pages load faster).
Note- "Minify HTML" did not make any difference to my websites speed, so I left it unchecked.
3. Minify CSS files
The file optimization tab also has options to minify and combine CSS files like this...
This helps to reduce unneccessary code like whitespace, which causes your website to take longer to load.
It's important to note that these changes can sometimes cause changes to the way your site looks to visitors, which WP Rocket warns you about...
So be sure to check what your site looks like after making these changes.
You can easily uncheck the box if it does cause issues.
Note- "Optimize CSS delivery" made my website slower, so I unchecked that box.
JS is used a lot on websites today and unfortunately it can make your page load slowly.
This basically removes unneccessary features from the code on your site, like whitespace and comments to help the developer.
It doesn't impact what the user sees but can improve page load speeds!
All you need to do is tick a box...
That's my kind of speed improvement 😉
This can mean:
- Visitors see your page instantly
- Your site loads quicker
However, I found that this feature drastically reduced my page speed (from below 2 seconds to over 9 seconds!)
I have no idea why to be totally honest!
But this is why it's a good idea to tick one feature then test your site speed again... instead of ticking everything and hoping it works.
6. Lazy loading
The media tab is where you can implement "lazy loading" on your site.
It's one of the main additional features that makes WP Rocket stand out compared to free caching plugins like W3 Cache.
This helps your website to load faster by only loading certain "below the fold" content as the user scrolls down...
Another stand out feature compared to other free Lazy Load plugins (like BJ Lazy Load) is...
- Replace your YouTube iframe with preview image
This means WordPress will only load the YouTube embed when the user clicks on the preview image! This can make a hige difference to load times if you embed any YouTube videos.
(By the way, embedding YouTube videos is a great way to keep people on your page for longer... another big factor in Google's algorithm for ranking websites)
7. WebP compatibility, emojis & embeds
Emojis and WordPress embeds can add a lot of unneccessary bulk to your site.
Disabling them can help to speed up your page load times...
If you use WebP images on your site then WP Rocket can serve these to compatible browsers.
This is also why they recommend using Imagify, their image optimization plugin. It automatically does this for you.
8. Preload cache, DNS & fonts
The preload tab holds one of WP Rockets most powerful features --- cache preloading.
With most cahing plugins a page is only loaded into the "cache" when a person visits the website.
Everyone after that gets the "cahced version"...
Aka the page loads quicker for people AFTER someone visits it.
WP Rocket makes sure all users get this speedier cached version straight away...
When you activate WP Rocket for the first time, the plugin generates a cached version of your content right away.
So you can make your website load time fast for everyone!
9. Advanced settings
Sometimes you may not want to cache certain pages.
Some contact form plugins are affected when they are cached.
The advanced settings can allow you to have more control...
Some examples of things you can do are...
- Specify specific URLs to never cache
- Exclude certain cookies or user agents from being cached
- Select URLs to purge (remove uneeded data) whenever you update any post or page
- Force caching for specific query strings (URLS with a query i.e. example.com/page/?country=italy --- these can be useful if you track certain platforms people have come from)
Check your main pages after you find the best settings to speed up your website. If any pages (such as your contact page) do not work properly try exluding them here to see if that fixes it.
10. Cleanup database
You will often have a load of excess stuff on your site such as:
- Post revisions
- Spam comments
This can all add unneccessary code to your website and cause it to slow down.
Make sure you back up your website and use this tab to clean your site.
You can even set an automatic clean up every so often too.
11. Integrate CDN
A CDN sends your content to be stored in a server physically closer to where the user is geographically located.
If my hosting server is located in Canada but I get a load of visitors from India, it will take a little bit longer to reach them. However a CDN will store my content in different locations (including India) and send the content from the nearest physical location.
It means it doesn't need to travel as far to reach them...
Hence, it can speed up the page load time!
WP Rocket lets you create separate rules for:
- All files
- Just CSS
WP Rocket is not a CDN themselves, but it allows you to connect to others. Although it looks like there will be a "RocketCDN" soon, so keep your eyes peeled!
Cloudflare is free and one of the most popular CDNs out there. In the add on section it makes it very easy to integrate!
12. Control heartbeat
There is a WordPress "Heartbeat" always running in the background of your website.
It can help with some important things like autosaving your work in the WordPress Editor.
But it can slow your site down.
The Heartbeat tab lets you either:
- Reduce the frequency of the Heartbeat API
- Completely disable the Heartbeat API
This can help to reduce server performance issues.
BUT... it can cause issues on your site so be sure to test which options work best for you (you may not know until you use your website as normal for a while).
13. Add-ons: Google Analytics & FB Pixels optimization
However, switch on these add ons and your website will host the tracking script locally.
This can help improve your page load times.
It may not be a huge improvement but you only know by testing before and after trying these out.
14. Image optimization
WP Rocket also created Imagify.
They make it simple for you to install the plugin to optimize your images...
I personally always resize and use a compressor before uploading any image to my site.
I also did not see an improvement in speed compared to Smush (my existing plugin) so I didn't bother switching this over to Imagify. I will try this with a new website in the future to see if that impacts the overall speed.
Even with this detailed WP Rocket plugin review, you may still be a bit confused when you first install WP Rocket.
Lucky for you, they have short, easy to follow videos that walk you through exactly how to use WP Rocket...
And if you still have any issues...
There is a great support team on hand to answer any questions...
I messaged them after I found my mobile speed had reduced after trying (what felt like tons of) different options.
Not only did they respond straight away and solve that issue (I retried "mobile caching" for a huge improvement), but they actually found a pretty serious HTML issue on my site.
I sorted this out with Thrive Themes support, but I wouldn't have been aware of this without the support from WP Rocket.
The team also reached out again to check if the issue was resolved.
They truly have already gone above and beyond with their support.
WP Rocket pricing
There are 3 options to purchase the WP Rocket plugin:
- $49 for one website
- $99 for 3 websites
- $249 for unlimited websites
However, it's important to be aware that this only gives you 1 year of support and updates...
WP Rocket annual renewal pricing
The FAQ section helps to answer this...
After 1 year, WP Rocket will continue to run without any problems.
However, you will not be able to use the support or update the plugin.
Licenses can be renewed at a discounted 30% rate:
- Single renewal is $34.30
- Plus renewal is $69.30
- The Infinite renewal is $174.30
Simply put, you don't have to pay for it again after a year (you need to opt out of this in the settings).
But if you want the support and updates, then you will pay an ongoing 70% annual fee.
(Updates are normally pretty important for plugins, so you should really be prepared to pay the 70% ongoing annual fee).
My opinion - WP Rocket
To be totally honest, I put off getting this plugin for a long time.
I had free alternatives and my website loaded in under 5 seconds, which isn't terrible.
But now I've seen the results, I have no idea why I didn't try this sooner.
Saying that there are some things that I do and don't like about the plugin...
What I don't like
There are two things that I didn't like about WP Rocket...
- It takes some time to test
- It's not free
Was it hard to test?
Did I need to do techie things?
Did it only take 5 minutes to make it work?
It took me more like a whole day of testing (but I did try out some other free plugins and thoroughly tested my site speed before and after the plugin. You won't need to do as much as I did!)
Also, the saying "you get what you pay for" springs to mind with this one!
What I like
You can see more of the pros at the top and throughout this WP Rocket plugin review.
But here are the big three for me...
- It speeds up your website
- That will impact how many people see your website, which impacts the bottom line
- There's a 14 day money back guarantee, so you can try it out risk free
If you're still reading this then you probably know this is a business expense that can end up making you more money in the long run.
And just in case you're still on the fence...
I have an affiliate link below, which means I will get a small commission when you buy WP Rocket through the link at no extra cost to you.
And to sweeten the deal I will send you:
- My keyword research template & video on how to use it
This is the exact template I have used to help grow my organic traffic by 1,282% in 6 months...
All you need to do is:
- Buy WP Rocket through the button below
- Send firstname.lastname@example.org your receipt
I will send you the template as soon as I check my emails.
Happy website speeding up!