How to Improve WordPress Performance by Moving JavaScript to the Footer

Optimizing your WordPress site for peak performance is crucial in the competitive world of web development. One highly effective technique to achieve this is moving JavaScript scripts from the <head> section of your website to the footer. This optimization enhances site performance and positively impacts search engine rankings.

By default, WordPress loads JavaScript scripts in the <head>. While this ensures early script execution, it can lead to slower page load times. This delay can frustrate site visitors since the browser must fetch and execute these scripts before rendering the page content.

Relocating these scripts to the footer allows for the prioritization of critical content loading, such as text and images. JavaScript execution is deferred until after the main content is displayed, resulting in faster perceived page load times, improved user engagement, and a more responsive website. Furthermore, search engines favor websites with faster loading times, which can positively affect search rankings.

In this comprehensive and SEO-optimized tutorial, we’ll guide you through the process of moving JavaScript to the footer of your WordPress site, explaining the benefits and providing step-by-step instructions.

Before proceeding with any customizations in WordPress, it’s essential to set up a child theme. A child theme acts as a safe and efficient way to make modifications without affecting the parent theme. If you haven’t set up a child theme yet, follow this tutorial on How to Create a Child Theme for Customization. It will guide you through the process and ensure that your customizations remain intact even after theme updates.

Of course, I’ll make the requested adjustments to the tutorial:

Title: Improving WordPress Performance by Moving JavaScript to the Footer

Introduction:

In the world of web development, optimizing your WordPress site for performance is crucial. One effective way to achieve this is by moving JavaScript scripts from the <head> section of your website to the footer. This optimization technique can enhance page load times, improve user experience, and potentially boost your website’s search engine rankings.

Add Code to Move JavaScript to the Footer

Locate the functions.php file in your WordPress child theme, edit it, and add the provided code snippet at the end of the file (just before the closing ?> tag if it exists). Be sure to test your website thoroughly after making these changes to ensure that all functionality remains intact.

function move_scripts_to_footer() {
    if (!is_admin()) {
        // Remove default WordPress scripts from the header

        // Remove wp_print_scripts: Removes scripts that are printed using wp_print_scripts.
        remove_action('wp_head', 'wp_print_scripts');

        // Remove wp_print_head_scripts: Removes scripts that are printed using wp_print_head_scripts with priority 9.
        remove_action('wp_head', 'wp_print_head_scripts', 9);

        // Remove wp_enqueue_scripts with priority 1: Removes scripts enqueued using wp_enqueue_scripts with priority 1.
        remove_action('wp_head', 'wp_enqueue_scripts', 1);

        // Move jQuery to the footer (optional)
        wp_deregister_script('jquery');
        wp_register_script('jquery', includes_url('/js/jquery/jquery.js'), false, NULL, true);

        // Move jQuery Migrate to the footer (optional)
        wp_deregister_script('jquery-migrate');
        wp_register_script('jquery-migrate', includes_url('/js/jquery/jquery-migrate.min.js'), array('jquery'), NULL, true);

        // Re-register Comment Reply script to add it to the footer (optional)
        wp_deregister_script('comment-reply');
        wp_register_script('comment-reply', '/wp-includes/js/comment-reply.min.js', array(), false, true);

        // Move Emojis script to the footer (optional)
        wp_deregister_script('wp-emoji');
        wp_register_script('wp-emoji', includes_url('/js/wp-emoji-release.min.js'), array(), false, true);

        // Move Embeds script to the footer (optional)
        wp_deregister_script('wp-embed');
        wp_register_script('wp-embed', includes_url('/js/wp-embed.min.js'), array(), false, true);

        // Move Customizer Preview script to the footer (optional)
        wp_deregister_script('customize-preview');
        wp_register_script('customize-preview', '/wp-includes/js/customize-preview.min.js', array(), false, true);

        // Add scripts to the footer
        add_action('wp_footer', 'wp_print_scripts', 5);
        add_action('wp_footer', 'wp_enqueue_scripts', 5);
        add_action('wp_footer', 'wp_print_head_scripts', 5);
    }
}
add_action('after_setup_theme', 'move_scripts_to_footer');
Code language: PHP (php)

Explanation:
This code defines a function move_js_to_footer that removes JavaScript scripts from the header and adds them to the footer. It’s hooked to the 'after_setup_theme' action to ensure it runs when the theme is set up. The is_admin() check prevents these actions from affecting the WordPress admin panel.

Verify the Changes and Test Your Website

To verify that JavaScript scripts are now being loaded in the footer instead of the <head>, you can inspect your website’s source code:

  • Right-click on your website in your browser and select “View Page Source” or use the browser’s developer tools (usually by pressing F12).
  • Search for a JavaScript script tag (e.g., <script src="..."></script>). You should see these in the footer section of the HTML, just before the closing </body> tag.

Note: After making these changes, it’s essential to thoroughly test your website’s functionality. Some themes or plugins may rely on specific scripts being loaded in the <head>, and moving them to the footer could affect how certain features work. Test critical functions, such as forms, interactive elements, and navigation, to ensure they continue to work as expected.

That’s it! You’ve successfully optimized your WordPress site’s performance by relocating JavaScript scripts to the footer. This enhancement can result in quicker page load times, improved user engagement, and a more search engine-friendly website. Remember to test your site thoroughly to ensure that all functionality remains intact after this change.

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