WP Rocket is an essential WordPress plugin. It uses caching to accelerate a site’s loading times. It is one of the most popular installs today, powering close to 4% of the top websites globally.
This plugin works to optimize Core Web Vitals and improve PageSpeed scores. These elements directly contribute to SEO campaigns, content marketing, and other organic outreach efforts.
WP Rocket offers numerous web performance best practices upon activation. The setup takes about three minutes to complete, which means a site sees improvements within a few clicks. You don’t need to get into the code or be a technical expert to maximize the benefits of this plugin because the default configuration creates immediate results.
What Are the Installation Options for the WP Rocket Plugin?
Two installation options are available when you decide that the WP Rocket is the plugin to use. You can have the product do the work automatically, or there is a manual option that requires FTP software to complete.
The automatic installation process is the fastest and easiest way for most users to start using WP Rocket. Here are the steps to follow to have a successful experience.
- Go to your WordPress admin panel and complete the login process.
- You’ll need to go to the Plugin option that says, “Add New.”
- Click on Upload Plugin.
- Choose the .zip file and click Install Now.
- After clicking the link, you’ll get asked if you’re sure about installing the WP Rocket plugin. Click “Yes” to have the installation process automatically complete.
- Once activated, go to the settings panel.
If you prefer the manual installation process for WP Rocket, you’ll need to upload the files through FTP software to your server.
The first step is to unzip the archive with a safe program. In a Microsoft Windows environment, open the zipped folder before dragging the file or folder from the zipped one to a new location. Press and hold a right-click on the folder, choose “Extract All,” and follow the remaining instructions.
If you’re in a macOS environment, double-click on the zipped file to remove the compression. This action prompts Archive Utility to unzip the files to the same folder.
For those using Linux, you just need to use the “unzip” command with the file name. The extracted files are considered owned by the user running them. You’ll need write permissions for the directory where the extraction occurs.
Once the archive is unzipped, upload the wp-rocket folder to the “wp-content/plugins” directory. After taking that step, you can activate it through your WordPress admin.
What If I Need to Add My License Data?
When installing WP Rocket, adding your licensing information to the wp-config.php file might be necessary.
This step is a helpful method of validating the license without going through a complete reinstall process. It works well when resetting the API key, migrating the permissions, and similar events.
You’ll need to define two constants in the wp-config.php file.
define( 'WP_ROCKET_EMAIL', 'YOUR ACCOUNT EMAIL');
define( 'WP_ROCKET_KEY', 'YOUR API KEY');
You’ll replace the information in the first line with the email address associated with your WP Rocket account.
The second requires your API key, which is available in your WP Rocket account. You just need to open the license-data.php file and copy the value found in WP_ROCKET_KEY.
If you change your licensing information, the update does reset the plugin settings. You would need to explore them to have them imported again after.
What to Do After Activating WP Rocket
After activating WP Rocket, you’ll want to do an on/off test with the default settings. This step will let you see what improvements are available.
Several of the features are entirely automated, so they’re not represented on the plugin’s Settings page. That includes page and browser cache, detection and support of third-party products, Google Fonts file optimization, and cross-origin support for web fonts.
A few settings receive default activation after using WP Rocket initially, including cache lifespan, heartbeat control, and preload links. If you want to reset the settings, you can disable all the options except these and cache preloading and mobile cache without deleting and reinstalling the plugin.
Some settings are activated or disabled based on your hosting arrangement and WordPress setup. That’s why taking the time to find the best options for your site is an essential part of the initial installation and configuration process.
How to Find the Best Settings for Your Site with WP Rocket
After activating WP Rocket, the changes to a WordPress site are immediate and beneficial. Since every website also incorporates multiple unique design elements, the best settings to use are highly variable.
It is essential to review the different plugins, themes, and content offerings to start the optimization process. The goal is to make things faster, but activating more options won’t always create that outcome.
If you’re not able to turn everything on, that doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong. Before starting this process, take some speed test readings to have comparison data to use.
Once you’ve got that data, here are a few steps to take to begin improving your optimization even further.
- Individual Activation. Instead of trying to activate everything at once with WP Rocket, try individual options to see how your site performs.
- Check Frequently. After activating an option, check your website from a different browser window. It helps to use a private or incognito choice to ensure you’re not logged into WordPress. You’ll see problems immediately this way if issues occur.
- Review Pages and Posts. When reviewing changes to the site, be sure to check more than one page. If something doesn’t look right, deactivate the last option to have everything return to normal.
You don’t need to worry about clearing the cache after activating an option. WP Rocket takes care of that step for you.
Recommended Configuration Options from WP Rocket
After activating WP Rocket, the following options are recommended for review to see if they will benefit your site.
|Configuration Option||Reason Why This Configuration Option is Recommended|
|Cache > Mobile||Anyone using a responsive theme can benefit from this option because it applies to all mobile users.|
|Remove Unused CSS||This advanced feature can be helpful for those with a website built a specific way. WP Rocket generates used CSS to render the site, reducing the size of CSS and page to reduce main thread work.|
|LazyLoad||Found in the Media menu, activating this option reduces adverse performance problems with images. It loads them when visitors scroll down each page or post, waiting until they need to be seen. This option can decrease load times significantly when numerous images are included with the content.|
|Delay JS Execution||This advanced option improves the PageSpeed score by improving the page’s initial loading. It delays inline scrips and files until user interactions occur, including moving a mouse or touching the screen.|
|Load CSS Asynchronously||It might not be appropriate for every site, but this WP Rocket external tool visits each page type to generate Critical Path CSS. It improves the perceived loading time of the website.|
Some options may not activate without creating problems. Depending on your WordPress build, the issues are potentially resolved by excluding specific files.
Here’s a closer look at some of these choices.
Minify and Combine Files with WP Rocket
You can minify static files with WP Rocket. This step happens within the File Optimization tab. You can select the boxes for the options that work best for your website.
The minifying process makes those files smaller. This option can reduce bandwidth usage on large traffic sites, potentially reducing hosting costs.
Since the minifying process can cause files to stop working as expected or fail to load, it’s important to review each page and post to ensure the site works as expected.
You can also combine Google Fonts files and remove query strings within this configuration option.
Emphasize Lazy Loading When Configuring WP Rocket
After videos, images are the heaviest items on a WordPress page. They take more time to load than standard text while increasing the download size for the user.
Most websites use lazy loading techniques to delay this process to increase speeds. When your site feels faster to a user, it makes them want to engage with it more.
Switch to the media tab to enable LazyLoad. You can choose to have it work for images, iframes, and videos. If you have YouTube videos embedded with your design, you can replace the iframe with a preview image.
While you’re there in the Media menu, consider using the “Disable Emoji” option. This step reduces the number of external HTTP requests that occur.
Perform a Database Cleanup After Configuration
One of the best benefits that WP Rocket offers is the option to clean up your WordPress database. Although it has a minimal effect on performance, it can make managing your posts and pages a lot easier.
You can decide to clean up the revisions and drafts for each post. WP Rocket shows you how many are available in Revisions, Auto Drafts, and Trashed Post categories. Under the comments section, you can take care of your spam or trashed comments.
Activating the cleanup feature permanently deletes these unwanted items. WordPress removes the unwanted comments after 30 days, but there might be hundreds or thousands left on a large site.
Post revisions are helpful to have if you need to undo changes. If you need to retain them, don’t use that option.
Final Step: Review the WP Rocket Addons
After activating WP Rocket, you’ll discover that it comes ready to deploy several features that come as an addon. This list is subject to change, but the current options include the following to consider.
Meta (Facebook) Pixel
If you use Meta Pixel for tracking users, this WP Rocket addon hosts them on your local server. This option improves your PageSpeed score, although it might not offer actual benefits to how the site loads or engages with users.
For those that use WordPress and Cloudflare CDN, this addon is necessary to have it work alongside the WP Rocket plugin. After choosing to modify options, you’ll need to enter your account credentials to connect.
You’ll need to enable this addon if you use Sucuri. After choosing to modify options, enter the API key to connect the account.
Some WordPress users work with a hosting company that uses the Varnish cache. This addon requires activation to ensure the process works correctly.
If you don’t take this configuration step, WP Rocket will clear its cache, but the Varnish cache will remain.
WP Rocket lets you host your analytics code on your server with this addon. It isn’t a required configuration option unless your goal is to achieve a 100% PageSpeed score. It’s compatible with several plugins, including ExactMetrics and MonsterInsights.
Why Choose WP Rocket for a WordPress Website?
Although several WordPress caching plugins are available to use, WP Rocket provides the most comprehensive feature set. It receives regular updates to ensure your site can always keep up with all modern browser standards.
When you know how to install and configure WP Rocket according to your setup’s needs, you’ll find that the performance improvements can help you achieve your optimization goals quickly and easily.
If you encounter an issue with WP Rocket, reverse the last change you made to restore functionality. In return, you’ll be on your way to serving your visitors more efficiently.
Matt has been working with WordPress and creating content using this powerful content management system for years. While he has written about many other tech topics, WordPress is one of his favorites.
You can read his full bio here.