Lazy loading is the best-kept SEO secret in the industry. Many businesses either don’t understand how powerful lazy loading can be or they have bought into many of the myths surrounding lazy loading. Businesses want three things from their websites:
- Rank well in Google
- Attract their ideal prospect
- Convert browsers into customers
When it comes to e-commerce, all three of these goals are related. If you want a site that ranks well in Google, you need great SEO. If you want to have great SEO, you need a site with an excellent user experience. If you have a great user experience, your site will attract the ideal prospect and convert them into customers.
Each month companies are spending millions of dollars to improve their SEO all while ignoring the most important factor—how visitors interact with their website. Reducing your loading time for images and sending only the data that your users need, improves the user experience and increases your SEO.
What is Lazy Loading?
It used to be that when a user opened a web page, all of the contents of that page were loaded. But, as websites became more complicated, it took longer and longer for some sites to load. Pages were using resources like videos and high-quality images that required more bandwidth.
Lazy loading is a web design technique where certain objects on a page are not loaded when the page is first pulled up by the user. Instead, placeholders are used, and the objects are only loaded as they are needed when the user scrolls down the page.
The results are significantly faster load speeds, especially on mobile devices. Lazy loading is also sometimes known as lazy initialization because the programming defers the actual initialization of the object until the point that the object is needed.
When done correctly, visitors to your site have no idea if you are using lazy loading or its opposite, eager loading. All the users notice is that the page is fast and that everything is ready when they need it.
Myths About Lazy Loading
If lazy loading makes pages load faster, why doesn’t everyone use it? One reason is that many people mistakenly believe that lazy loading hurts SEO.
The idea is that as search engines crawl different sites and they find a site that uses lazy loading, the bot may not realize there are other resources on the page. Instead, it just sees placeholders. This could result in a lower search engine ranking.
The truth is that lazy loading doesn’t hurt your SEO at all. Bots are sophisticated enough to detect that a site uses lazy loading and indexes the site appropriately. There is no evidence that using lazy loading hurts a site’s page rank or authority score.
Another lazy loading myth is that it will result in many users seeing empty placeholders for a while, and not seeing the rich media content.
The whole point of lazy loading is to make sure that users have access to each resource on the page when they need it. If lazy loading is coded correctly, users will never see the placeholder—they will only see the initialized objects.
Lazy loading doesn’t hurt your SEO, it’ll help your website load faster and it will boost your SEO.
What Google Cares About
SEO is all about making search engines, especially Google happy. If you want your site to rank highly in a given Google search, all you need to do is show the Google algorithm that your site delivers to Google’s visitors, the kind of content that Google wants its users to see.
Even though the actual structure of the Google search algorithm is a heavily guarded secret. But, it’s easy to see what kind of content Google likes best.
Google’s success is based on a simple concept. Using the Google search engine is the easiest way to find the specific content you are looking for and that the content is easy to access.
Google cares about two things:
- User Experience
Ranking well on Google means creating relevant content to a specific keyword and having a website that provides a superior user experience. Using the right keywords in your content and titles is important. But, everyone is doing that. If you want to beat the competition, you need another edge.
Relevance and user experience used to be straightforward. But, mobile technology has improved and spread across the globe. What it meant to provide a good user experience has changed.
Mobile devices are often accessing the web on crowded cell networks. At the same time, mobile search has grown to be an even larger source of traffic than traditional desktop searches.
If a website wants to rank well in Google, it needs to provide an excellent user experience to visitors on mobile devices.
Mobile Page Load Speed is Critical
Internet users have always wanted faster page load times. But, mobile users are even more impatient than desktop users. They won’t wait more than 1.5 seconds for a page to load in many circumstances.
If you are trying to optimize your page for mobile, it has to load fast, even if the user is on a cellular network and not connected to WIFI. If a page loads too slowly, mobile users will just click away to something else.
Because your business needs your website to rank well in Google and attract your ideal prospects before it can convert any visitors into paying customers, you need to make sure your site provides an excellent mobile user experience.
How Lazy Loading Improves User Experience
Lazy loading helps your site load faster. When someone on a mobile device pulls up your site using lazy loading, the page comes up immediately. Only the essential objects are loaded. As the user scrolls down, the other objects are loaded so that they are present on the page right when the user is ready to see them.
It improves the experience of every user, especially mobile users, because it provides content on demand, offers lightning-fast page load times, and uses data efficiently.
Users spend more time on pages that load faster. They also interact more with pages with different types of content like videos and images.
When a page loads faster, users are more likely to find the exact content they are looking for before clicking away.
How Lazy Loading Boosts SEO
Lazy loading not only doesn’t hurt your SEO, it actually helps your SEO. Remember, SEO is based on two primary issues:
- User Experience
If a user clicks away from your site because it loads too slowly, that user is sending a signal to Google that the content is not relevant and that the user experience is poor. When a user spends time on your page scrolling through the content and clicking on links, that user is sending the opposite signals to Google. The Google algorithm sees that your page is relevant, and the user experience is excellent.
Every user to your site that interacts with your content amplifies these signals. Because the search engine wants to deliver relevant pages that also provide an excellent user experience to its users, your page begins to rank higher than slower loading pages.
Lazy loading increases your SEO by creating a positive feedback loop. Faster page load times make it easier for your site to receive more visitors. Those visitors are more likely to spend more time on your site and interact more on your site. The search engine algorithm sees this activity and “rewards” your site by ranking it higher than sites with higher bounce rates because they load too slowly.
Easy Way to Use Lazy Loading
While you can use lazy loading for almost any object, sites with a lot of images, like e-commerce sites, typically get the biggest benefits out of lazy loading. However, you don’t have to redo all of the code on your site to enable lazy loading.
The easiest way to provide a faster mobile experience is to use a service that handles lazy loading implementation for you.
All you will need to do is to cut and paste a few lines of code into a few different places on your website. Once you register with Piio, it only takes a few minutes to follow the step-by-step directions to enable lazy loading on your site.
Once you have set up this feature, you will immediately notice faster load times. Before long, you will also notice that the faster page load times will result in better quality traffic and more user engagement.
If your site is otherwise optimized, using lazy loading will help you achieve your main objectives for your site, a better search engine ranking, attracting ideal prospects, and turning more prospects into paying customers.
Piio is committed to making it easy for your site to be optimized for mobile. Let us help you implement lazy loading on your existing site so you can reach more customers without changing anything about how you are managing your store. If you want to know more about why we build Piio you can read this article: Image optimization is broken, so we built Piio ?