If you want a cat in hell’s chance of ranking in Google these days, your site needs to be nimble. And as anyone who’s built a WordPress site knows, speed isn’t its greatest strength. Even with this site being hosted by WordPress.com, we were failing Google’s ‘Core Web Vitals’ test on the desktop version of the site and seeing search traffic suffer. Could a $49 per year plugin bring our site up to speed? Here’s our review of WP Rocket.
What does WP Rocket do?
WP Rocket rather boldly promises to “skyrocket your PageSpeed scores instantly”. It claims to accelerate page load times by doing a number of things, including:
- Caching pages for visitors
- Optimising your CSS files to reduce their file size and remove redundant code
- ‘Lazy loading’ images so that pictures and iframes are only loaded when the user reaches or is about to reach them
All of these options and more are available in the settings of the WP Rocket plugin. The company advises that you switch these various features on one at a time, so that if any breaks on your site, you can quickly identify the culprit and switch it back off.
That’s what we’ve been doing for the past few weeks on this site. Here are the results.
WP Rocket review: performance results
Before we installed WP Rocket, we used Google’s PageSpeed Insight tool to measure the performance of our mobile and desktop sites.
Here are the mobile results:
And here are the desktop:
As you can see, we were just about scraping a pass on the mobile site and failing two of the three key metrics on the desktop.
Now, after about six weeks of having WP Rocket installed, here are the current results, first for mobile:
And now desktop:
To make that slightly easier to digest, here’s a results table showing the before and after for both mobile and desktop:
|MOBILE BEFORE||MOBILE AFTER||DESKTOP BEFORE||DESKTOP AFTER|
|LCP||2.5 secs||2.3 secs||3 secs||2.6 secs|
So, as you can see, there have been clear improvements across the board. The site is still failing one of the desktop tests, the Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), but only by a 0.1 seconds. As you can see from the screengrabs, the results are based on a 28-day rolling collection period and we’re pretty confident that we will get down to the required 2.5 secs in the next couple of weeks after making recent changes.
What gives us that confidence? If you look at the PageSpeed diagnostics results for several of our pages, they are now falling well within the requirements, as you can see below:
In the past couple of weeks, we’ve also seen a boost in our traffic and search performance. Of course, search performance can be affected by all manner of factors, but we’re fairly confident improved page load times is one of them.
Overall, we’ve been very impressed with WP Rocket. The plugin is very simple to install and use. Each of the options are carefully explained and there’s a strong set of tutorial videos and support documents to help explain further.
There have been a couple of settings that broke things on our site. When we enabled the setting to automatically add missing image dimensions, for example, something which helps improve layout shifts, the site logo broke on the mobile version of our site. There is an option to exclude specific images which we need to look into, so WP Rocket might well have that covered.
If Google’s reporting problems with the speed of your WordPress site – even one that is hosted by WordPress.com – WP Rocket might well help boost performance without having to do anything drastic with your template, ads or other site furniture.
Ease of use
Value for money
WP Rocket summary
A simple-to-use WordPress plugin that delivers impressive performance gains with little effort
- Very simple to use
- Improved both desktop and mobile performance on this site
- Not cheap, but might pay for itself in ad revenue returns