The Speed Study Goal

My goal with conducting these Speed Studies is to find out which strategies are the best at improving our site speed.

I’ll implement each strategy using the following approach:

  1. Setup the strategy on all 8 of our live test sites
  2. Then for the following 3 weeks, use hourly monitoring via GT Metrix to independently gather the load times. To eliminate the possibility of location bias, I change the test servers each week, starting in Dallas, then London and finishing off in Sydney.
  3. Next measure the impact of each strategy by comparing the average speed before and after
  4. Ultimately decide whether the strategy works?

Cloudflare & WP Rocket Speed Study

With 3 individual caching plugins now fully tested, its time to see whether adding Cloudflare will make a difference or not? So over the next 3 Speed Studies, we will progressively add Cloudflare to each caching plugin, and as we already have WP Rocket setup, lets start there.

To kick off this Cloudflare & WP Rocket Speed Study, we need to setup and connect Cloudflare. I followed our step by step tutorial on How to Setup Cloudflare for each of our test sites.

All Setup

I have now followed this process on all 8 of our Live Test Sites.

Next up is 3 weeks of testing – I am curious to see whether Cloudflare will move the needle when it comes to page loading speed?

The Results – 16th Jul 2017

After 3 weeks of testing, lets take a look at how much of an impact adding Cloudflare to WP Rocket has had on our 8 hosts.

Speed Study 16 - Cloudflare & WP Rocket Results Table


So how did Cloudflare perform? The average load time across 3 different testing locations was 1.02s, which is a whopping 42% faster than WP Rocket alone.

When we dig into the 3 locations we test from, Dallas was slightly quicker, but the real improvement was seen in London & Sydney, where Cloudflare improved speeds by 47% & 51% respectively. There were some slight movements in Page Size, Google PageSpeed Score & Yahoo YSlow Scores, but the real story (as always) is the loading time.

So when it comes to making a call on whether adding Cloudflare to WP Rocket is helpful, the answer is a resounding Yes. It becomes an even easier decision when you consider that Cloudflare is a FREE solution!!

Individual Host Performance

Let’s now take a look at how our individual hosts performed:

Speed Study 16 - Cloudflare & WP Rocket - Individual Host Performance

Major Observations

  • The results are massive positives across the board when it comes to our individual hosts:
    1. All 8 hosts experienced significant speed improvements with Cloudflare, ranging from 32% with SiteGround all the way up to 52% with Bluehost.
    2. And the big news story is that both HostGator & Lightning Base have broken through the 1 second barrier, recording average load times across all regions of 0.94s & 0.95s respectively – Congratulations!!
  • The overall observation from where I sit is that Cloudflare has combined with WP Rocket magnificently. So the decision is really quite easy, if you have WP Rocket setup, Cloudflare is a highly recommended addition.

What’s Next?

With Cloudflare proving to be highly beneficial to WP Rocket, lets find out how it performs when combined with WP Super Cache.

So Speed Study #17 will focus on what speed improvement is possible when we pair WP Super Cache with Cloudflare?

Speed Study #17: Cloudflare + WP Super Cache