Site speed plays an important role in organic search optimization, search engines consider page speed as a crucial factor in determining search rankings. A fast loading and responsive website not only provides a better overall user experience but also helps websites optimize for search engine algorithms that prioritize efficiency and user interaction. Pages that load quickly are more likely to be ranked higher, contributing to improved visibility and increased organic traffic.
The probability of bounce increases 32% as page load time goes from 1 second to 3 seconds.Google/SOASTA Research, 2017.
What is Lazy Loading?
Lazy loading is a web development technique designed to optimize the loading of web page content, particularly images, by deferring the loading of non-essential elements until they are needed. Instead of loading all the content on a page immediately when a user accesses it, lazy loading delays the loading of certain elements until the user scrolls down to view them. This approach helps improve a website’s performance and user experience, especially on pages with a significant amount of images or multimedia content.
Use of the HTML “loading” Attribute
The loading attribute determines whether a browser should instantly load an image or delay the loading of off-screen images until the user, for instance, scrolls in proximity to them. It is recommended that loading=”lazy” only be added to images which are positioned below the fold. You can implement lazy loading on your images by using this syntax:
<img src="URL" loading="eager|lazy">
- Lazy Loading: Will defer loading of images until some specific conditions are met
- Eager Loading: The default, loads an image immediately
In this context you would add your images to your page normally, and if images are present that are not viewable to the user until they scroll down the page loading=”lazy” would be added in order to only load them if necessary. Allowing the page to display more quickly without needing to load every image at once as the eager loading method would. An example would be:
<img src="/peakimg/seocompany.jpg" alt="SEO Company" style="width:100%"> <img src="/peakimg/seoservices.jpg" alt="SEO Services" style="width:100%"> <!-- lazy load images --> <img src="/peakimg/webdev.jpg" alt="Web Development" style="width:100%" loading="lazy"> <img src="/peakimg/aigen.jpg" alt="AI Generated Image" style="width:100%" loading="lazy"> <img src="/peakimg/charts.jpg" alt="Keyword Charts" style="width:100%" loading="lazy">
This allows the images on top of the page to load via the eager method and any images which are unnecessary until scrolled to, are loaded via the lazy method.
Plugins and Add-Ons for Lazy Loading
Implementing lazy loading through plugins or add-ons in content management systems like Drupal (with Lazy-load) and WordPress (with LazyLoad Plugin) has become a popular and user-friendly solution for enhancing website performance, and making it accessible even for those without extensive technical expertise. These plugins automate the process, allowing website administrators to activate lazy loading for images and other media assets effortlessly. The ease of use and automation provided by these plugins not only contribute to a smoother user experience but also underscore the importance of incorporating performance-enhancing features without the need for intricate coding knowledge if you are using a Content Management System.
Does My Website Need Lazy Loading?
Determining whether your website should implement lazy loading to improve SEO involves assessing various factors related to your site’s content, performance, and user experience. Here are some recommendations to decide if you should incorporate lazy loading on your website:
- Page Loading Speed: If your website has large images, videos, or other media files, and it takes a noticeable amount of time for pages to load, lazy loading can significantly improve speed, positively impacting SEO.
- High Volume of Images or Multimedia: If your website contains numerous images, videos, or other media elements, lazy loading can prioritize the loading of visible content first, providing a faster initial user experience.
- Mobile Optimization: Given the prevalence of mobile users and the move to mobile first indexing, ensuring your website performs well on mobile devices is crucial. Lazy loading helps reduce the initial load time, benefiting mobile users with slower internet connections.
- Bounce Rates and User Engagement: High bounce rates may indicate users leaving your site due to slow loading times. Lazy loading can keep users engaged by presenting visible content quickly, potentially reducing bounce rates.
- SEO Ranking Factors: Search engines, including Google, consider page speed and user experience as ranking factors. Improving these aspects through lazy loading can positively influence your SEO rankings.
- Analytics and User Behavior: Analyze user behavior using tools like Google Analytics. If users tend to scroll down on your pages, implementing lazy loading for off-screen content can enhance the overall user experience.
- Testing and Monitoring: Conduct performance tests using tools like Google PageSpeed Insights or Lighthouse to identify areas for improvement. Monitor the impact of lazy loading on your website’s performance and adjust settings accordingly.
- Content Management System (CMS) Capabilities: Check if your CMS supports lazy loading or if there are plugins or modules available for easy implementation. Content management systems like WordPress and Drupal often have user-friendly plugins that streamline the process.
If your website experiences slow loading times, contains a significant amount of media content, and caters to mobile users, implementing lazy loading is likely to be beneficial for SEO. Regularly monitoring performance metrics and user behavior will help you make informed decisions about optimizing your website.