Today’s Internet users are quite an impatient bunch. Even the shortest delays are a huge deal and have a big impact on user experience. This is especially true for eCommerce websites, with an estimated 40% abandonment rate related to a mere 3-second delay.

A sluggish website can kill your business. People don’t want to wait, and will click away after just a few seconds. With a whole plethora of websites just a mouse-click away, you really need to keep your visitors and customers engaged. Having to wait for your site to load achieves the exact opposite. That said, having a fast and efficient website is a must in order to succeed in today’s overly competitive online market.

If website speed is your primary concern, you’ll be glad to know that WordPress offers a lot of free plugins to help speed things up. Take note, however, that plugins are just a small piece of the puzzle, and there are many other factors that you need to consider to improve your site’s performance; things like a better web host, a content delivery network, and a lightweight theme. Still, WordPress plugins are a good place to start.

Today, we’re going to highlight 5 of the best free WordPress plugins to optimize your website. We hope they can be of use to you. Enjoy!

BJ Lazy Load

BJ Lazy Load

Lazy Loading is a WordPress plugin that lets your site load faster and saves bandwidth. It replaces all your post images, post thumbnails, Gravatar images, and content iframes with a placeholder, and loads the content as it gets close to enter the browse window once a visitor scrolls the page. It also works with widgets. Additionally, you can lazy load other images and iframes in your theme by using a simple function. Meanwhile, non-JavaScript users get the original element in noscript.

WP Smush.it

WP Smush.it

Ensuring that your images are well-optimized is another way to cut off some of that precious loading time. If your images are too big, not only will they carry some needless file size, but your server also has to use extra resources just to adjust how the image is displayed. It’s a needless waste. This WordPress plugin automatically compresses every image you upload. It works by stripping away all metadata from JPGs, as well as removing unused colors from indexed images. The result will be a small file size, quicker loading time, and no noticeable loss of the images’ quality.

W3 Total Cache

W3 Total Cache

The W3 Total Cache is a popular caching plugin for WordPress that’s one of the best and highest rated in the market. It’s an essential tool for web developers as it helps improve a website’s load time. The developers behind this plugin promise at least 10x improvement in overall site performance, which is a seriously bold claim, but they certainly live up to it. The plugin works by storing a static version of your site on the server. The images, CSS, and JavaScript on your site are resource-intensive to load, so it makes sense to load them from scratch every time, especially for a site that rarely changes. With this plugin installed in your website, each time you have a site visitor, the stored static version of your site will be displayed, which means the heavy lifting is only done once. This, in turn, saves up a lot of resources and speeds up your site.

Digg Digg

Digg Digg

The importance of developing readership through social media is not to be overlooked. However, using some social media plugins can slow down your site. After all, for every button you include, you’re asking your server to run an extra HTTP query. But with this social plugin for WordPress, you can use lazy loading to avoid this problem. It works simply by displaying a social buttons placeholder. It doesn’t require any extra queries from your server, and users can’t tell the difference. Only when a visitor hovers over the social buttons do they load, and this helps with the initial loading time for each page.

WP-Optimize

WP-Optimize

Every post, page, and comment is stored in your WordPress database, including every revision you make. Every time a user wants to access one of your posts, it has to be retrieved from this database. So, the more junk you have idling around in there, the more your site gets bogged down. With every revision and auto-save taking up space in your database, there are some substantial speed improvements to be made. For that, there’s WP-Optimize.

WP-Optimize is a popular free plugin for WordPress that helps de-clutter your database in many different ways. The plugin makes it easy to remove those excess post revisions you don’t need any more. It also lets you quickly remove any spam comments queued up, which can be daunting if you remove it manually. Another key feature is that it simplifies the process of actually deleting unwanted content, rather than just storing it as trash. Additionally, it can tell you your current database size and indicate how much space optimization can save.