Getting a caching plugin for your WordPress setup is one of the best ways to speed up your website. The plugin creates a static version of your website, which gets rid of many of the steps needed for your website to load dynamically.
Therefore, installing a caching plugin results in shorter loading times.
WP Rocket is one of the most trusted caching plugins by WordPress experts. However, with several free caching tools available, is it worth spending on?
We will analyze WP Rocket’s features to find out.
Why Speed Is Essential
Having a fast website has always been intrinsically essential for engagement. The slower your site, the higher the bounce rates, and the lesser your traffic.
Source: Think With Google
However, Google is now laying a lot more emphasis on the importance of website loading speed.
Google very recently announced Core Web Vitals, which is a set of metrics that measure the speeds, responsiveness, and stability of a website.
These new metrics will be combined with Google’s existing signals to create a comprehensive picture of a user’s experience with a website.
The better the website’s experience, the higher it will rank, and an excellent website experience calls for short loading times.
What Results Can You Expect with WP Rocket
Additionally, 46% of people agree that waiting for a slow website to load ruins their experience.
Over 1.3 million WordPress websites use WP Rocket – and for good reason. Many users report cutting off more than a second from their two-second-plus website loading time.
Users with graphically heavy websites also report positive results, shaving off many seconds from their loading time, hence keeping the attention of more visitors.
It is safe to assume that getting your website to load at least in under three seconds regardless of its size should be a breeze with WP Rocket.
How To Configure WP Rocket For Your Website
In our analysis of WP Rocket, we found that the plugin will make your website load faster right after the installment, which is impressive because most WordPress caching plugins require configuration before any performance improvements are observed.
The secret to making your website load quicker using WP Rocket lies in its configuration. With the right configuration, you can make your site load a lot faster.
By default, WP Rocket only applies the safest settings because themes, plugins, and hosting environments vary, and different configurations have different effects on different websites.
It will take a few minutes to set up WP Rocket and test out the different configurations, but the trouble will the worthwhile.
Installation and Activation
After you create an account and pay for WP Rocket, you will be able to download the zip file from the account page.
To install the plugin, you navigate to the Plugins menu from the WordPress dashboard and click on the Add New button. Next, you must click on the Upload Plugin button and upload the zip file.
Finally, you must activate the plugin from the Installed Plugins page. You will then see the plugin appear in the Settings section of the WordPress dashboard.
Before you start configuring your website, benchmarking your website’s speed using tools like GTmetrix, Pingdom Tools, or Google’s PageSpeed Insights is a great idea.
You must keep in mind that lower loading times are the ultimate goal, and you don’t need to worry about using all the features. If a particular feature slows down or breaks your site, not using it entirely is the best way to go.
However, if you do encounter a problem after activating a feature, there is a chance you may be able to resolve it and reap the benefits of the feature by excluding specific files.
Another thing to keep in mind is that WP Rocket automatically enables a few speed optimization features right after installation.
Page caching is automatically enabled. It removes the time-consuming PHP and MySQL processing that occurs on every page load and serves’ visitors with a static HTML site instead. Therefore, pages load a lot faster and demand minimal server resources.
WP Rocket caches pages for both mobile visitors and desktop visitors by default. You can create separate caching files for mobile devices to ensure maximum compatibility by going to WP Rocket’s Cache menu.
Browser caching also enables automatically. The feature allows repeat visitors to have a better experience by improving loading times dramatically. The Gzip compression feature reduces the size of your files, which reduces download times.
However, you must keep in mind that Gzip compression is only applicable to files that are on your domain. You will only have little control over files on external domains; for instance, content from Google Ads servers cannot be cached or compressed using WP Rocket.
WP Rocket offers integrations such as the Facebook Pixel and Google Tracking integrations that can give you some control over certain external files.
WP Rocket activates preloading right after the installation process, which generates cache files for your website automatically.
Whenever the cache is cleared, the preloader will visit your homepage, gather all the linked pages, and then preload them, so visitors get a cached version of the pages.
If you update the content on your website, those posts and pages will also be preloaded.
After the preloader finishes its processing, you will see a prompt on your dashboard.
Activating LazyLoad under WP Rocket’s Media menu is recommended since it reduces the performance impact that images cause. LazyLoad makes it so that images only load when a visitor scrolls to see them.
In our experience with WP Rocket, minifying HTML, removing query strings, and combining Google font files under the File Optimization menu does not cause dramatic improvements in performance. However, these are considered best practices and tend to improve your performance grade.
Similarly, minifying your CSS/JS files may improve your performance grade, but may not affect actual performance.
Make sure you test out these options one after the other and check if your website is loading correctly after checking every option.
WP Rocket Features
WP Rocket automatically activates page caching when it is installed, boosting loading speeds instantly.
Since WP Rocket’s crawler visits your website to preload the cache, its indexing is improved instantly.
WP Rocket enables you to specify a sitemap or use a sitemap generated by plugins like Yoast SEO and SEOPress.
HTML, CSS, and JS are compressed, making the size of the files downloaded by the visitor smaller. Smaller file sizes translate to faster downloads, which improve the overall loading time of your website.
WP Rocket ensures that your website’s files are stored in the visitor’s browser. This feature cuts down on data downloads and requests, which shortens loading times dramatically.
WP Rocket’s Database menu is loaded with options that help optimize and maintain your website’s database.
Google Fonts Optimization
The optimization option is available in the File Optimization menu. It combines font requests, improving performance.
Remove Query Strings From Static Resources
Removing the query string from static sources, as recommended by tools such as Pingdom and GTmetrix, can be done in one click.
Lazy loading improves website performance by delaying image loading until the visitor scrolls by them.
Minification and Concatenation
Minification and concatenation of files optimize WordPress code and improves page scores.
Defer JS Loading
JS elements that are not required for the initial render of the webpage are loaded last, improving the page’s perceived loading time.
Activating Cloudflare on WP Rocket is as simple as checking the right option and entering your account email, Global API key, and Zone ID.
The CDN menu makes it very easy to use your website with a CDN.
Enabling DNS prefetching is as simple as adding the URLs to prefetch in the Preload menu on WP Rocket. It significantly reduces latency.
WP Rocket detects if the visitor is on mobile and automatically serves the visitor with a cached mobile version of your site.
WP Rocket is compatible with multisite; however, if you have a domain name per site, you will need to purchase additional licenses.
eCommerce Friendly (WooCommerce)
Although eCommerce pages are dynamic, WP Rocket enables page caching on eCommerce sites automatically without taking away any functionality.
WP Rocket ensures that your website loads quickly regardless of the location of your visitors and the language of your website.
Importing and exporting of WP Rocket settings can be done in one click.
The plugin’s code is clean and commented, and comes with loads of hooks so developers can customize it with ease.
Analysis: WP Rocket Vs. Alternatives
Although the free version of W3 Total Cache offers a host of features, it is not easy to use, and setting it up can be painful, especially for beginners.
Nonetheless, it is still a fantastic free caching solution that will boost your website’s performance.
The plugin offers stellar preloading and garbage collection features that help speed up your website. It is free to use and open-source, but its controls can be confusing to beginners.
Although it three robust caching modes, the plugin has no documentation, and you will need to rely on third-party tutorials to set it up.
Comet cache is another freemium tool that comes with an intuitive interface and extensive documentation. You can use it for free, but most of the advanced features are locked behind the paywall.
WP Rocket Key Advantages
Excellent Default Settings
Although you get some options to optimize your website’s performance further, 80% of the optimizations are carried out right as you install.
Nice Selection Of Add-Ons
In our experience with WP Rocket, its add-ons (such as the Cloudflare add-on) extend WP Rocket’s capabilities further, making it a lot more versatile.
Fantastic Support And Documentation
The support team has got you covered and will help resolve any issues you have related to your website’s speed quickly. Additionally, all of the plugin’s features are documented extensively, and you will have no problem learning to use them.
Most caching plugins use WordPress’s menus as a foundation for the plugin. WP Rocket, on the other hand, has a customized interface that unifies all of the settings in one place, making it easy to use.
Some Pitfalls To Be Aware Of
No Free Version
WP Rocket is a premium tool – there is no free version or free trial that you can avail of to get a taste of the tool capabilities.
Overwhelming Number Of Settings
WP Rocket offers a host of settings, and almost every setting may break a website’s rendering. Complete beginners may feel overwhelmed.
My Rating of WP Rocket
The tool strikes the right balance between power and ease of use, but it is the most expensive caching tool available.
But its formidable features and the fact that it speeds up websites without needing configuration make it worth the money.
WP Rocket Pricing
If you run one website, you can get WP Rocket’s Single plan, which comes in at $49/year. If you have two or three sites, you can get the Plus plan at $99/year.
If you’re looking to enable WP Rocket on more than six websites, it makes financial sense to get their Infinite plan for $249/year.
All plans offer the same features – the only difference is the number of websites you can use the plugin with.
Caching plugins that have an easy to use interface that also offer an excellent range of features are hard to come by.
However, if that’s exactly what you’re looking for, per our analysis of WP Rocket, we think it’ll be the perfect tool for you.