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Lazy Loading for SEO: Does It Affect Your Search Rankings and How to Optimize It?

When it comes to SEO strategizing, the smallest adjustments make the biggest difference in how your page will perform. One such adjustment is lazy loading. What is lazy loading, and how does it impact SEO ranking?

What is Lazy Loading?

What is Lazy Loading?

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Lazy loading is a process where a site loads some sections of a web page that are immediately needed and leaves out some, only to load them later when they are needed. For example, if you were loading a web page with an article, the page would load the visible part and delay loading some sections in the lower and out of view. The rest of the sections can be lazy-loaded as you scroll down.

This process is meant to reduce a web page’s processing time and shorten the load time. If a web page would have to load everything at once, it would take longer, and this can make visitors leave the page prematurely.

Adding the lazy loading attribute to elements has a lot of benefits, but how can you implement lazy loading?

How to Implement Lazy Loading

How to Implement Lazy Loading

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1) Virtual Proxy

A virtual proxy allows the user to launch a “fake object” with the same interface as the real object loads. The real object would only be loaded whenever it is needed. This lazy loading behavior allows sites to focus only on required content at a time while showing the user that the rest of the information is available when needed.

2) Lazy Initialization

Lazy initialization reduces browser workload by delaying the loading and creating a web object until required. Lazy initialization reduces the program memory requirements of a browser. Furthermore, lazy initialization reduces wasteful computation and increases site performance.

3) Ghost

Ghosting is a lazy load that involves loading an object only partially. The partial state of the object loaded takes less time than it would to load a full object.

4) Value Holder

A value holder is a generic object used in data fields instead of real objects. The value holder can be a placeholder image. These strategies keep visitors glued to your page.

Other than keeping the visitors glued on your page for a bit, lazy loading has other benefits.

Benefits of Lazy Loading

Benefits of Lazy Loading

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a) Reduce Load Time

While lazy loading means a delayed loading of certain components, it saves loading time. The saved loading time is of the initial components that the user immediately requires. When loading certain parts that may be out of view is delayed, the initial page load time increases since nothing is too heavy to load.

b) Customer Retention

User retention is one thing that most website owners strive to do, and lazy loading does a great job of retaining clients. For example, if you clicked on a photography stock site and had to wait for thousands of images to load or could go to a site where images loaded in real-time as you scrolled, the latter would be an easy choice.

Most websites have a window of less than three seconds for retaining users, and lazy loading is a realistic way of retaining users by reducing the initial load time. Customer retention serves the same purpose as video SEO which capitalizes on the short attention span internet users have today.

c) Reduced Data Consumption

Since heavy images and components are loaded as the user scrolls, the internet data consumption cost is not as heavy as it would be if all the components were loaded. This is useful to the user, especially to enjoy using certain sites without worrying about too much internet.

d) Increased User Interaction

One of the important factors when ranking websites is user interaction. Lazy loading can increase user interaction with a webpage. For instance, lazily loaded images can lead users to load more images as they attempt to find the content they seek. As long as the user keeps interacting with the site, there is a chance they might use internal links, which is great for passing link authority to sites.

e) Reduced Render-Blocking

When a page is loading, a lot needs to be rendered. While some remedies can be used to overcome render-blocking, like compressing components, lazy loading plays a major role too. Lazy loading images, code, and languages like JavaScript reduce render-blocking chances when loading a page.

f) Reduced Processing Time

While loading time is important, the processing time is vital as it determines the loading time. The time to first byte (TTFB) is the time it takes the browser to receive the first byte of information from the server. One of the things that can increase TTFB is large files. However, by implementing lazy loading, TTFB can be improved.

Lazy Loading Downsides

Lazy loading is a useful strategy that can be used to increase site speeds and improve the performance of an e-commerce site. However, there are some downsides to lazy loading.

i) Loading Slows Down Quick Scrolling

Some users may need to scroll quickly through pages, and lazy loading can delay such a user. Sites that have many images have the challenge of taking a longer load time during quick scrolling.

ii) Lazy Loading Affects SEO Ranking

Google Chrome crawlers do not recognize ghost images and placeholder images. While these elements reduce page weight, crawlers may not consider them. One way to make up for this is to use internal links to point crawlers back to that page.

iii) Increased Server Communication

Upon request, the lazy-loaded objects will need to be retrieved. This increases the communication with the server, which means additional resources.

Lazy Loading Strategies

There are strategies you can use in different situations to achieve lazy loading. Here are some strategies when using lazy loading.

a) Code Splitting

CSS, Javascript, or HTML can be split into smaller portions. When the code is split into different chunks, the more important ones can be loaded first to give the value needed instantly, and then the rest can load later. Code splitting reduces the loading time as information is loaded by demand.

b) Fonts

One of the ways lazy loading works is by preloading fonts. Font requests are normally delayed until a render tree is created, which takes a while and delays text rendering. One way to overcome this is to override the default font.

c) Images

Images and iframes can be limited to user interaction so that unless a user scrolls, the images will not be loaded, especially if the images are off-screen. This form of lazy loading saves on data and gives the priority information a chance to reach a user as soon as it is demanded.

An image loading attribute is used on images to reduce the page weight.

Lazy Loading vs. Eager Loading

Lazy loading is an attribute that delays the loading of elements, while eager loading is the opposite. In eager loading, resources are loaded as soon as the code is executed. In eager loading, resources are often preloaded to anticipate a user’s actions.

Frequently Asked Questions About Lazy Loading

1) Why should I add lazy loading to my site?

Lazy loading reduces the page load time, which is a huge benefit for your webpage. Furthermore, lazy loading is a mobile-friendly approach that conserves bandwidth and saves data, especially for mobile users. Loading lazy makes it possible to surf pages with heavy content, like photos and videos.

With lazy loading, resources are loaded only when a request is placed on the server, reducing the number of HTTP requests placed on a server. Too many HTTP requests can slow down load time.

2) What is lazy loading in CSS?

Lazy loading is a strategy that identifies non-critical elements in a page and loads them slower or avoids loading them in the first place. The elements can be loaded later or when the user scrolls or requests them. Lazy loading reduces the critical rendering path length, which reduces page load time.

However, when it comes to CSS, lazy loading images is impossible at the browser level. A website owner must consider other methods when intending to lazy-load images.

3) What is the difference between lazy loading and dynamic loading?

Dynamic loading is page generation in real-time, where the end user’s experience depends on requests, device type, scrolling, screen size, and other dynamic characteristics of a device or content. Dynamic loading can be a lazy loader as it achieves everything lazy loading seeks to achieve in a website which includes;

  • Reducing load time
  • Save on user data
  • Increase a webpage speed
  • Reduces the length of the critical rendering path

4) What are the different types of lazy loading?

There are four general types of lazy loading. They include;

  • Virtual proxy- where a fake element is loaded as a placeholder for the real element that would take more time and data to load. An example is a placeholder image.
  • Ghost- Partially loading items on a webpage
  • Lazy initialization- Delaying elements in a webpage until they are required.
  • Value holder- Using generic elements instead of real objects in a website. These objects act as placeholders until a user moves on the element.

5) Which component is used for lazy loading?

Suspense is a component used in lazy loading to wrap lazy components in a website. Suspense can wrap multiple lazy components at a go. Other than using a component for lazy loading includes code-splitting and data-fetching, which are strategies for lazy loading images and other web elements.

6) What is native lazy loading?

Native lazy loading is a form of lazy loading where elements are only loaded once they reach a certain distance from the viewport. Elements in the viewport are loaded instantly, while those just outside are loaded only when they approach the calculated distance.

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

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Lazy loading is great for improving the page load time and loads only the images a user requires at a given time. While it has some downsides, its benefits significantly improve your site performance. Lazy loading is a great strategy for a large site with many images. However, if you have a small site, there is no need to use this strategy. Lazy loading passes as one of the strategies to improve SEO.

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