How does lazy load affect SEO?

Page speed is one of those details that can get forgotten when it comes to your website. You may be much more focused on the content or the messaging, the images or the CTA and forget quite how important this really is. Almost half of users expect a page to load in two seconds or less - a delay of just 500 milliseconds can cause a 26+% increase in “peak frustration” and the result may be that you lose a potential customer. Page loading times are crucial because they can define the first experience that a customer has of your brand - whether they decide to stay and explore or bounce to find another, faster website - and how Google sees it in terms of SEO.

Where does lazy loading come in?

Lazy loading is a way of deferring the slower loading elements of a web page until the page has rendered. So, the user can get to your site quickly and the bigger items that may have prevented this from happening will load afterwards. This will reduce the time it takes to reach the page’s Largest Contentful Paint (Google’s understanding of load speed), which is the point in the loading trajectory where most of the main content is up. This is all part of the Page Experience Update that is ensuring that user experience and website performance move to the top of the agenda - and also the point at which this factor starts to affect SEO.

Do you need lazy loading?

If you’re having trouble with slow loading speeds you don’t necessarily need lazy loading. Try running your website through a page speed performance tool to see what comes up - if you see “defer offscreen images” as one of the suggestions for solving loading speed issues then this is where lazy loading can really come into its own. Although there are various plug ins and solutions here the best way to implement lazy loading effectively is often with an experienced developer.

How essential is lazy loading for SEO?

It may be that when you run your website through a page speed performance tool there are a whole load of other recommendations that you can try to improve this factor to influence SEO. That could be anything, from reducing redirects to removing render-blocking JavaScript and enabling Gzip compression. However, if your website has a lot of images or you see that “defer offscreen images” message then lazy loading could be a key tool for enabling your website to achieve the fast loading speeds that Google is increasingly expecting for ranking websites. This is a practice that the web giant has acknowledged has become hugely popular in recent years - and Google even released a document (part of the Google developer guides) that was designed to help ensure that lazy loading web page content can still be crawled, indexed and ranked.

Lazy loading can help to ensure that users get to your web pages more quickly and this is increasingly important as Google continues to prioritise user experience for SEO. If you’re looking for opportunities to improve this part of your online user experience then lazy loading could be key.

Lazy load is one of many ways to ensure your website is optimised for a better Search Engine Ranking Performing (SERP). To find out how Iconic Digital can help you improve your business' digital marketing, get in touch today and call us on 020 7100 0726. Find out more about our Search Engine Optimisation Agency in London.

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