Having a good page loading speed is important to provide a good user experience and it also helps you improve your search engine rankings. When it comes to creating a website online or a business website, no other CMS can be a better bet than WordPress.
Lazy loading is the best strategy to have a lot of media resources while keeping a good load time for your website. It is a critical strategy that identifies non-critical resources and loads them only when they are needed. Using this strategy reduces page load time, reduces bounce rate, and improves customer experience.
WordPress is a leading CMS that allows you to integrate videos, images, and other media into your website. However, the new version also comes with the WordPress lazy loading functionality.
Once you have activated the WordPress lazy loading function, all the amazing images or videos on your site will go through lazy loading.
Now visitors will be able to load your site quickly and access the content. This tactic is highly recommended if your business revenue depends on your WordPress website.
What is lazy loading and how does it work?
Lazy loading is an optimization technique that makes loading content visible to the user and it delays downloading and rendering below-the-fold content.
If your website has a lot of high-resolution images and videos, then your site does not have to load slowly. It can give priority to these critical images and videos, which reduces loading time a lot.
This is how it works:
- The browser builds the web page DOM without downloading images and preloading videos.
- Lazy loading only loads an image or video when a visitor views it on screen.
Images and videos are not loaded in advance until they are actually needed. If you do not go to multiple parts of the website, then some of those images will never be loaded.
Lazy loading is basically the priority-based loading of your WordPress images and videos. It is an extremely effective way to get the best of both worlds. You can have both an amazing website with great graphics and speed.
How to add WordPress lazy loading to your website
There are two ways to add lazy loading to your site. You can do it with a WordPress plugin and manually. To ensure the success of this task it is important to know both methods.
1. Implementing lazy loading using a plugin
You can eliminate all your WordPress lazy loading issues by installing a plugin. There are many plugins available on WordPress but using a speed optimization plugin will bring other benefits.
You can use plugins like w3speedster which will optimize the overall speed of the site while implementing lazy loading. You have absolute control over which images you can lazy load and all of this can be done without any coding.
If your team does not have much technical expertise, then using a plugin will be the best option. Once you are done using the plugin, check your speed through PageSpeed Insights. If you see a drastic improvement then you have done the job correctly!
You can be assured that your visitors will be welcomed with a great user experience.
Follow these steps to successfully add the w3speedster plugin to your website.
Step 1: Install and activate the plugin
Go to the WordPress dashboard, click on the plugin section, then click on add new. Find the w3speedster plugin and click upload. Select the zip file and then click on install.
Before the installation process can begin, WordPress will ask you to confirm whether you want to add the plugin to your site or not. Select yes and the installation process will start.
Once the plugin is activated, you can start to enjoy its benefits. However, before that, you should head out to the settings section.
Step 2: Use the settings panel to configure the plugin
Go to the w3speedster plugin so that you can configure the settings for lazy loading. Here you can select the media files that you want your site to lazy load.
This plugin allows you to lazy load images, video, audio, and iframe. Click on the check boxes of the media files that you want to lazy load. Once you have made your choice, save the changes, and then exit.
2. Add lazy loading manually
If you don’t want to add another plugin to your WordPress site, then you will be happy to know that you can also do this manually. Multiple browsers like Chrome, Firefox, and Opera support native lazy loading.
You just have to add the attribute to a selected images and videos. Once you add the attribute you will enable lazy loading on your site automatically.
Lazy loading is now implemented on your WordPress site by default. If you want to activate lazy loading only for a few images, then you can do this manually.
<img src=”image-name.png” loading=”lazy” alt=”alt attribute” width=”300″ height=”300″>
Although this is an amazing way to add lazy loading to your WordPress website. You should know that not all browsers support this method. However, some of the most popular ones do. So it is still a safe bet.
Pros and cons of lazy loading
If you are not sure about implementing lazy loading to your WordPress website. Then you can consider the pros and cons to make a decision.
- It reduces bandwidth use which reduces hosting costs.
- It improves the speed of the site which makes the visitor’s experience better.
- Improves mobile usability.
- Improves the site’s rankings.
- Increases chances of user retention
- It slows down the scrolling speed.
How does lazy loading impact SEO?
Search engines crawl your website and other elements on it like images to provide a result to the user. Although lazy loading can increase site speed and improve performance.
In some cases, it can prevent search engines from indexing the images. Your website’s images can also help you rank on search engines. Sometimes a user may find your website entirely through an image. So, they are essential to get organic results.
Here are a few things to check
- You have to ensure that Google and other search engines are still able to crawl your lazy-loaded images. This can be checked by using the tool “Fetch as Google” under the crawl section in Google Search Console. If you can see the images in the source code, then you are good to go.
- You should use an alt tag for the images of your website. This will help the search engines know the context of the image and how it is related to the rest of the content of your website.
While lazy loading is a great method to improve user experience, it is important to do the same strategically. For example, you should not lazy load images that appear on the header of the site. Because it is important for these images to load quickly.
Other than that, you can lazy load the rest of the site’s media. Lazy loading has more than one benefit. It improves site speed, reduces bandwidth usage, provides a great user experience, and improves SEO.