WP Rocket Settings Guide 2021

Did you know that, as page loading time goes from 1 to 5 seconds, the probability of bounce rate increases by 90%?

WP Rocket is an easy made-for-non-techie’s premium caching plugin. It’s both easy to use and to setup to make your blog load super fast. Forget the crazy headache you get from trying to setup W3 Total Cache only to see little to no speed improvement from misconfiguration.

WP Rocket is also feature-packed and can handle the demands of content-rich blogs without having to be a rocket scientist to set it up. I’m sharing the EXACT settings that help me attain 0.6s Desktop and Mobile times from GTmetrix and Google PageSpeed Insights. Yes, that’s less than 1s. These settings alone won’t take a 4s site to a 1s site, but they’ll have a huge impact.

WP Rocket’s Top Features:

  • Lazy-Loading Images, Iframes, and Videos
  • WebP images Support (ShortPixel compatible)
  • Gzip Compression
  • Page Caching for Desktop and Mobile
  • Page Caching for Logged-in users (Membership sites)
  • Pre-load Caching after you’ve made site changes
  • Browser Caching for Facebook Pixel and Google Analytics
  • CDN Compatibility – integrates easily with Cloudflare CDN & Security
  • Optimization of CSS and Javascript files – Minify, Optimize, Defer, Delay scripts – Eliminate render-blocking resources and improve load time.
  • Database Optimization – clean up Bloated Databases easily
  • Amazing Chat support
  • 14-day Money-back Guarantee

After spending so much energy creating stellar content, don’t make your visitors abandon your pages because of slow loading times! If you haven’t purchased WP Rocket yet, I’d appreciate you purchasing it through my affiliate link.

WP Rocket pricing as of Feb 2021:

  • Single $49 / year – 1 website
  • Plus $99 / year – 3 websites
  • Infinite $249 / year – Unlimited websites
  • All plans renew at a 30% Discount

$ This is an affiliate link

How to Set Up WP Rocket Caching for Bloggers

  1. Purchase and download the WP Rocket plugin from the link above if you don’t already have it.
  2. **Deactivate other Caching plugins**: Asset Clean Up, Autoptimize, Hummingbird, Lazy Load, W3 Total Cache, WP-Optimize, WP Fastest Cache, WP Super Cache… WP Rocket replaces all of these.

    Deactivate anything else that promises to speed up your site, other than ShortPixel… you don’t want multiple plugins ‘trying’ to do the same thing, it WILL break your site! Don’t blindly listen to the blogging FB groups… it’s like getting medical advice on WebMD! Send me a message about the plugin and whether it will work with WP Rocket, I’ll respond.
    .
  3. Go to your WordPress Dashboard > Plugins > Add New. Click the Upload Plugin button. Browse to the download file location, select the wp-rocket.zip & install the plugin.
  4. Click the Activate Plugin button to activate the WP Rocket plugin on your website.

You’ll then automatically be taken to the WP Rocket Settings Dashboard. Let the fun begin! I recommend using GTmetrix as your speed tester while you’re configuring WP Rocket. GTmetrix is easy to use and easy to find the impact each of these settings has on the speed metrics.

1. Dashboard

Rocket Analytics: Do not allow WP Rocket to collect your data anonymously, this results in a (very small) performance decrease, every millisecond counts!

RocketCDN: Ignore this for now, I’ll talk about your options in the CDN section.

WP Rocket Settings Guide: Dashboard

2. Cache

Mobile Cache:

Enables caching for mobile devices. Only enable “separate cache files for mobile devices” if you use a plugin for your mobile website (like the free version of WP Touch) or use an AMP plugin. You would need to have a separate version of your site for this to apply.

User Cache:

Only enable if you run a membership site or course with user-specific content. This setting will create a cache file for each user. This can consume a lot of resources on large course sites, but definitely improves the student’s experience. Plan accordingly with Hosting.

Cache Lifespan:

This number should match how often you’re creating new blog posts. A Lower number rebuilds the cache more frequently and consumes more server resources, while a Higher number’s cache won’t refresh as often and conserve server bandwidth.

WP Rocket will automatically purge the cache and preload each time a new post or page is added or when it’s edited or updated. This ensures that pages delivered to users remain current.

Additional triggers that clear the cache automatically:

  • Changing or updating Themes
  • Changing or updating Customizer options.
  • Updating site Menus.
  • Creating, updating or deleting sidebar Widgets.
  • Creating, updating or deleting Categories, Tags or Permalink structures.
WP Rocket Settings Guide: Cache

3. File Optimization

These recommended settings are safe for the majority of modern WordPress themes. If you notice any layout issues, uncheck each one by one till your site looks normal again. I’ve personally used these settings without problem with Astra, GeneratePress, Genesis, Kadence, Page Builder Framework, and the default WordPress Theme.

Common Plugins & Services: I’ve added exactly the code to enter for excluding, delaying, or deferring common Plugin, Theme, JavaScript that’s used by Bloggers. You’ll find the name of the resource on the left and then in the gray box on the right the code to enter.

For example, if you use Grow Social Pro plugin by Mediavine, you need to exclude both a CSS file and a JavaScript file from minification for the plugin to work and track properly. Simply copy then paste my provided code into the designated area. If you don’t use the plugin or resource mentioned, then don’t add anything.

Combine CSS or JavaScript Files:

This is what usually breaks sites! Loading one large CSS or JavaScript file instead of several smaller ones can actually slow down your site too. I wouldn’t recommend doing this at all.

Excluded CSS Files:

Underneath the Combine area, you have a spot to exclude files from Minification and or Combining. Occasionally you’ll have CSS files that need to be excluded to function properly.

Grow Social Pro by Mediavine

/wp-content/plugins/social-pug/(.*).css

Excluded Javascript Files:

Underneath the Combine area, you have a spot to exclude files from Minification and or Combining. Occasionally you’ll have scripts that need to be excluded to function properly. If you’ve activated Minification on Javascript from above and then suddenly something that’s Javascript-based disappears completely, you’ll likely need to exclude those scripts to regain the functionality. A prime example is Amazon Native Ads and Divi theme users.

Amazon Ads

amzn_assoc
amazon-adsystem

Divi Theme

/wp-content/themes/Divi/js/(.*).js

Grow Social Pro by Mediavine

/wp-content/plugins/social-pug/(.*).js

Delay JavaScript Execution: A list of common scripts that Bloggers use is already pre-populated. Delaying JavaScript means that it won’t load on your page until a visitor needs to interact with it. Keep this in mind when deciding what can be delayed or not. Ad scripts don’t need to load until the visitor scrolls down the page where the first ad displays. Same for chat bubbles, social sharing icons, exit pop-ups and Gravatar icons. Besides WP Rocket’s default script list, here are additional scripts you’re safe to delay.

At the end of the list, each on it’s own line, copy/paste the following if you use them:

Adsense Ads

adsbygoogle.js

ConvertKit: 

/ckjs/ck.5.js
/jquery.cookie.min.js
/wp-convertkit.js

MailChimp: 

/mc-validate.js

Simple Social Icons: 

/svgxuse.js

How to find Additional JavaScript to delay?

GTmetrix - Eliminiate Render Blocking Resources

In GTmetrix speed test results, look to your list under ‘Eliminate render-blocking resources‘ for the JavaScript that could benefit from possible Delay. Test, test, test!

WP Rocket Settings Guide: File Optimization

4. Media

LazyLoad:

This is absolutely critical to a fast site speed. LazyLoad means your images won’t all load at once, but instead load the top ones of the page first, then the rest as the visitor scrolls lower on the page. This alone can have a big impact on site speed. Combine this with the proper Image Optimization that happens before you even upload your image to your site and you’re on your way to serious speed.

Images to Exclude:

your-logo.jpg
images-viewable-before-scrolling-on-top-traffic-pages.jpg

Look into the media library and retrieve the file names for images to exclude, your logo, your welcome bio photo at the top of the sidebar, any stationary custom header images, etc. Go to your top traffic pages and make sure especially on mobile, that any image you see on your device before having to scroll further, is on that LazyLoad exclusion list.

*Note: If you run Ads on your site, DO NOT click Enable for iframes and videos. Your Ad platform already lazy loads their images. Configuring it to try to do it twice would actually slow your site down.

Image Dimensions:

Many images by default in WordPress only have the Height and not the Width that gets passed to the loading code. This fixes that. This helps to prevent the dreaded CLS warning in Google Core Web Vitals, which is a ranking factor for Google come May 2021.

Disable WordPress Embeds 

DO NOT check this box If you use Pinterest or want your images to appear in Google Image search.

WebP Caching 

Enable if you’re using WebP images. If you’re not using WebP images already, you should since they load faster and look nicer than JPEG + PNG. Using WebP also fixes the serve images in next-gen format item in PageSpeed Insights and GTmetrix. You will still need a plugin that converts images to WebP, like Imagify or ShortPixel. I have this disabled as I use ShortPixel and it handles showing my WebP images.

WP Rocket Settings Guide: Media

5. Preload

Preloading and Prefetching can have a significant impact on lowering your page loading speed time.

Prefetch DNS Requests

Prefetch DNS requests includes CSS files, JavaScript, and more. This time instead of putting the file name like we did in the ‘Delay’ scripts section, we instead want to only list the Domain that the multiple requests are coming from. We are warming up the connection, which results in these files ultimately loading faster. I’ve included the requests that need to be entered for common blogging tools/services. Only enter them if you use that tool/service. *I’m creating a mega-list of requests that can be prefetched/delayed/preloaded. Update Coming soon!*

Amazon Native Ads

//s.amazon-adsystem.com

ConvertKit

//app.convertkit.com

Facebook Pixel

//connect.facebook.net
//www.facebook.com

Google Fonts

//fonts.googleapis.com
//fonts.gstatic.com

Mailchimp

//chimpstatic.com

Mediavine Ads

//exchange.mediavine.com
//scripts.mediavine.com

Pinterest

//assets.pinterest.com
//s.pinimg.com
//ct.pinterest.com

WordPress Default Comments (Gravatar): 

//secure.gravatar.com/avatar/

Youtube:

//www.youtube.com

Preload Fonts

You can only preload Fonts that are actual web font files, ending in .woff, .woff2, .otf, or .ttf, these are different than Google fonts that are loaded above through fonts.googleapis.com. The fonts you enter here are typically included as theme fonts or icon fonts that plugins use. These all use the part of the file url that starts with /wp-content/…..

Astra Theme:

/wp-content/themes/astra/assets/fonts/astra.woff

GeneratePress Theme:

/wp-content/themes/generatepress/assets/fonts/generatepress.ttf
/wp-content/themes/generatepress/assets/fonts/generatepress.woff
/wp-content/themes/generatepress/assets/fonts/generatepress.woff2

Lightweight Social Icons Plugin:

/wp-content/plugins/lightweight-social-icons/fonts/fontello.woff
/wp-content/plugins/lightweight-social-icons/fonts/fontello.ttf
WP Rocket Settings Guide - Preload

6. Advanced Rules

Never Cache URL(s)

Anything you put in this box will not be cached. If you are running a course or member site through your blog, you’ll want to add certain pages from the login and user dashboard sequence here. Consult your specific plugin for integration with WP Rocket. On the rare occasion, I’ve had to add URLs for non-woocommerce shopping sites here. Anyone not running a course or member site can skip this section completely.

MemberPress:

Reference: How to Setup WP Rocket with MemberPress

/vip-dashboard/(.*)
/thank-you/(.*)
/account/(.*)
/register/(.*)
/unauthorized/(.*)
/members-only/(.*)
/mepr/(.*)

Always Purge URL(s)

WP Rocket automatically clears the cache for your homepage, categories and tags once new content is created… so there is usually no need for this. But if there are other page’s cache you want cleared when new content is posted, add it here.
For example, if you display your most recent posts on a landing page or your about page, that wouldn’t automatically update unless you instruct it to do so here. Type the entire URL of the page.

WP Rocket Settings Guide: Advanced Rules

7. Database

Scheduling database cleanups help to keep your front-end and back-end of your site fast. I recommend setting this to automatically clean Weekly. *Note, if you find you actually do use your post revisions, then simply uncheck that one box from the auto settings, but do remember to clean them up every so often. Post Revisions can reallllllllly bloat your database. Say your site has 500 posts/pages total, not uncommon for experienced bloggers, and each has 150 revisions on it, that’s 75,000 entries in the database!

WP Rocket Settings Guide: Database

8. CDN

EVERY blog can benefit from having a properly configured CDN to serve up their static files, like scripts, images and css files. Every single one. They basically mirror your site and distribute your content wordwide and serve it super fast to those visitors that are far from your Server. Some CDN’s are faster and more secure than others. I recommend Cloudflare for it’s blazing fast speed and it’s top-notch security. Also, it’s FREE. [ Check out my Cloudflare Settings Guide *Coming Soon!*]

This guide will assume you’re using Cloudflare, but if you use another you’ll want to specify the exact URL of the CDN in the space provided. Otherwise, for Cloudflare, just check the box to Enable Content Delivery Network. Nothing else needed on this section. The Cloudflare integration happens in another section.

WP Rocket Settings Guide: CDN

9. Heartbeat

Heartbeat is a WordPress Core code library that is used by many themes and plugins to maintain a stream of connection with your server. By default, the Heartbeat code runs every 15-60 seconds. It’s best to reduce that frequency since it consumes resources and contributes to CPU overages at your hosting provider. The reduced setting will run the Heartbeat code every 2 min instead. Do not choose the disable option, as many modern plugins and themes count on this code library.

WP Rocket Settings Guide: Heartbeat

10. Add-ons

Google Tracking:

If you use the Universal Analytics version of Google Analytics, your tracking code number starts with UA-, then turn this on. It will serve up the base Google tracking javascript from your site instead of requesting it from Google. Meaning, you’ll get the same tracking but faster!

Facebook Pixel:

If you have installed a Facebook Pixel for tracking and Ads purposes, then turn this on. It will serve up the base Facebook tracking javascript from your site instead of requesting it from Facebook. Meaning, you’ll get the same audience & conversion tracking but faster!

Cloudflare:

If you have integrated your site with Cloudflare CDN, turn this on. Then click on ‘Modify Options’ to continue the setup.

WP Rocket Settings Guide: Add-Ons

11. Cloudflare

Complete for the best Cloudflare integration with your site. Doing so will purge your Cloudflare cache at the same time that your WP Rocket cache is cleared. This will prevent the site visitor from seeing outdated content.

Global API Key:

After logging in, click on the person icon in the upper right corner, then click on Profile. Next go to API Tokens and scroll down till you see Global API Key and click on the View button. It’ll ask you for your password and then will show it to you.

Account Email:

The email that you signed up for Cloudflare with. Can’t remember, it’ll list it in your profile information.

Zone ID:

From the dashboard, if you were just in the API Token area then click on the Cloudflare logo to return to the home screen, then click on your domain name to be taken to the Overview section. On the right hand side near the bottom of the page you’ll find your Zone ID.

Skip over the settings options, as it will use very generic settings that are not the best for bloggers. Follow my Cloudflare Settings Guide instead.

Click Save Changes button.

WP Rocket Settings Guide: Cloudflare

12. Image Optimization

Skip this section. I recommend you use ShortPixel Image Optimization plugin instead. ShortPixel has a better compression rate, better image results, and better cost than Imagify.

WP Rocket Settings Guide: Image Optimization

13. Tools

These import/export settings come in handy if you run multiple sites and want to setup WP Rocket for all sites. Simply export settings from one and import to the other. Then go through the settings and change site-specific content such as scripts and images that need delaying and exclusion from cache if applicable. But that’s a great time-saver for multi-site bloggers.

Another good thing to do is to create a backup of your WP Rocket settings and to keep that file in a folder with all your other backups.

I’ve honestly never had to use the Rollback version feature. But it’s there, just in case.

WP Rocket Settings Guide: Tools

14. Tutorials

WP Rocket includes some video tutorials for different actions that are related to optimizing your site. I highly recommend watching the following three videos:

  1. How to Check if WP Rocket is Caching Your Site
  2. How to Measure the Speed of Your Site
  3. How to Find the Right JavaScript to Exclude – helpful if some functionality disappears after you’ve saved the Javascript Minify setting from Section 3 File Optimization. If the site looks and works correctly, then this is not needed. This is only for troubleshooting.

Real Results from following this Tutorial:

Have you followed this Speed Tutorial and achieved incredible results you are proud of? I want to hear from you… let me know, I’d love to share your results here with other Bloggers so they’ll be that much more confident to try it themselves too.

WP Rocket Caching Plugin Tutorial DIY Site Speed Optimization Before/After results
WP Rocket Caching Plugin Tutorial DIY Site Speed Optimization Before/After results
WP Rocket Caching Plugin Tutorial DIY Site Speed Optimization Before/After results
WP Rocket Caching Plugin Tutorial DIY Site Speed Optimization Before/After results
WP Rocket Settings Guide 2021