Website speed is everything in the blogging world. No-one wants a slow website. In fact, studies tell us that for every second longer that it takes to load a website, people are likely to leave and take their search somewhere else. So, with that in mind, what can you do to increase your website speed?
This was a question that I was asking myself quite early on when I created this blog. Having had blogs and managed websites before, I knew that site speed was important. Not only did I want a fast site for my readers, but also for me personally knowing that I was improving my SEO with a better site speed.
As someone who has a self-hosted blog on WordPress, this post will focus on how you can speed up your WordPress website as opposed to any other website platform.
So how can you speed up your WordPress website?
Like everyone seems to do, I made sure that I had a caching plugin (or 2, or 3!!) installed. I found that I needed various plugins because I couldn’t find one single plugin which did everything I wanted it to. Typical, eh! However, the downside of this plan was that for everything you load onto your site (no matter how light weight), you’re still adding weight to your site. I therefore knew that my multiple plugin solution couldn’t be long term.
So what was my solution? A plugin called WP Rocket.
What is WP Rocket?
If you’ve never heard about it, let me tell you some more.
As explained on their website, the main features of WP Rocket are:
- Page Caching – Get your WordPress site cached right away. Caching makes your site load ultra-fast: the real key to boost your SEO and increase conversions.
- Cache Preloading – Let your visitors enjoy the speedier, cached content of your site right away! WP Rocket automatically preloads the cache every time you make some changes on your web pages.
- Browser Caching – Store the frequently accessed resources of your site—images, JS, CSS—in the local memory of the navigation device, be it desktop or mobile.
- GZIP Compression – Compress web pages on the server and decompress them in the browser. The size of your files decreases and your visitors get your content quicker.
- eCommerce Optimization – Your eCommerce will run fast and smoothly: WP Rocket excludes sensitive pages from the cache. No interference in the purchasing process.
- Excellent Compatibility – Enjoy peace of mind: WP Rocket is compatible with the most popular themes and plugins and it works with the top managed WordPress hostings.
These are just the basic features which are instantly implemented when you install the plugin. There are a lot more features, which can be found here.
Is there a cost to WP Rocket?
Like most good things in life, there is a price tag attached to WP Rocket.
WP Rocket usually retails for $49 for 1 website. This price increases for the more sites that you want to use WP Rocket on. They run regular sales (as per their sales page) and I managed to get my license for $39.20 in a Halloween sale. They regularly run sales throughout the year, so I would recommend keeping an eye out if you’re wanting the plugin but are on a slightly tighter budget.
Once you have purchased WP Rocket, there is technically no need to pay annually for the plugin. After the first year, you can keep the plugin and continue you use it, however, you won’t be able to access updates or support for the plugin. Generally, I don’t tend to use customer support functions very often, so this doesn’t bother me. However, with the ever-changing world that is the internet, I personally think the yearly fee is worth it just for the updates alone.
How do I install WP Rocket?
After purchasing WP Rocket, you’ll immediately see a page thanking you for your purchase. Simply hit the button to download the plugin as a zip file. (You’ll also be sent an email with download instructions).
Next, on the WordPress dashboard, go to ‘Plugins’ and click ‘Upload Plugin’ at the top of the page.
Drag the zip folder you have just downloaded into the space provided.
Click ‘Install Now.’
If you haven’t already deactivated and deleted the caching/image optimisation plugins which you were using before, WP Rocket will prompt you to do this now. Doing so will ensure that you don’t run into issues later with several plugins conflicting with each other. Click ‘Manage plugins’ to deactivate and delete the plugins you no longer need. In my case, I managed to get rid of a few!
After you’ve deleted the plugins you don’t need, click onto WP Rocket (the link will be at the top of your screen) and using their Dashboard in your WordPress, start selected the options you want to activate and use.
The Features you should implement first to increase your website speed
For me, the top features to implement on installation were:
- Minify CSS files
- Combine CSS files
- Enable caching for mobile devices
- Enable caching for logged in WordPress users
- Adjusting the cache lifespan
- Enable lazy load for images
- Enable lazy load for iframes and videos
- Replace YouTube iframe with a preview image
- Activate preloading
- Activate link preloading
There are loads of other features to look into, explore, activate, and experiment with. But, for the purpose of a quick set up, I wanted to get the basics up and running, as I was curious to see how dramatic an impact WP Rocket would have on increasing my website speed.
my website speed before installing WP Rocket
So, now that I had the plugin installed and going, it was time to compare my website speed with its speed from before I installed WP Rocket.
Before I installed WP Rocket, I had run my website through Pingdom to gauge a speed analysis. I got the following results:
- Load time – 2.71 seconds
- Page size – 4.0MB
- Requests – 70
Whilst these stats aren’t completely awful (I said completely awful, I get that for some bloggers they are now shaking in their boots at these numbers!) there was definitely room for improvement.
my website speed like after installing WP Rocket
After installing, activating and customising the settings of WP Rocket, I re-ran the website speed analysis on Pingdom. I feel that the results speak for themselves:
- Load time – 617 ms
- Page size – 1.7MB
- Requests – 22
For those of you who prefer numbers, let’s break this down a little more. Essentially, after installing, activating and implementing different features from WP Rocket, these were the improvements which I saw on my blog:
- My website speed increased by 77%
- My webpage size decreased by 57.5%.
- My page requests reduced by 65%
Not bad for just 15 minutes worth of work, eh?
Is WP Rocket Worth It To Increase your Website Speed?
In my opinion, yes.
I sat on the fence for a VERY long time before deciding to take the plunge and purchase WP Rocket. I was determined that I could get by on free plugins. However, seeing the stats of how fast my site now if, in my opinion it was definitely worth the investment of $39.20.
WP Rocket’s website states that their set up only takes 3 minutes. They aren’t wrong. The reason it took me closer to 15 minutes was because I kept taking screenshots and testing my site through Pingdom so I could see and record the changes I was making to create this blog post later on. Additionally, it took slightly longer than 3 minutes because I was activating more than just the basic features.
Overall, I will admit that you can probably get by with increasing your website speed using a range of plugins and some technical know-how.
If however, you’re like me and want to concentrate on other areas of your blog, then I would highly recommend getting WP Rocket and letting it take care of your site speed for you.
This post was proofread using Grammarly.