Earlier this week, Google released a new document geared toward webmasters and search engine optimization (SEO) professionals that details how their lazy-loading online content can be crawled, indexed, and ranked effectively in Google’s search results. The document, entitled “Make sure Google can see lazy-loaded content”, can be found here in Google’s developer guides and provides an explanation of how to ensure that your lazy-loaded content is visible and readable by Google. Let’s take a further look and lazy-loaded content and how you can smartly implement it to benefit your SEO.
“Lazy load” is a term commonly used in computer programming to describe a process in which an object is not initialized (or loaded) until it is needed. So, in the web marketing world, this refers to content (most frequently images) that, instead of downloading and rendering as soon as the page loads, loads content only when a user accesses a part of the page that requires that content. “Placeholder content” is created instead, and the site’s actual content only loads if it is necessary for the user’s browsing experience. If a user loads a webpage but immediately bounces off, a lazy loaded webpage would only load the top portion rather than all of the page’s contents, preventing a waste of memory and bandwidth.
One of the most common examples of lazy loading is WordPress’s Infinite Scroll, which loads content on a continuous basis as the visitor scrolls down the page, and displays the page’s footer as an overlay underneath the continuous scrolling content.
There are several reasons why designers implement lazy loading on their sites. It can reduce a website’s loading time and save on bandwidth without sacrificing the user’s browsing experience in the process. Because users are being continuously given content over time instead of receiving everything at once, it reduces the likelihood that the user will leave the site and improves customer retention for the business.
Previously, lazy loading has been the cause of a common SEO problem. When search engines like Google crawl through a webpage, it is not uncommon for the search engine to misinterpret or ignore placeholder content. If an entire component of a web page—such as a blog post, video, or large graphic—is lazy loaded, there is the potential for a search engine to completely bypass the component, fail to index the content, and lead to fewer search engine results for the website.
Google’s new document, however, takes this problem into account and acknowledges that improperly-implemented lazy loading can hide content from search engines and result in it not being crawled or indexed. In their document, Google stresses the importance of ensuring that the content is loaded within the viewport, and encourages providing unique, direct links to each section that users can share and load (also known as “paginated loading”). Finally, no matter what you choose to implement, it’s always important to test it to ensure that it works for what you intend.
Agency Tsunami is the digital marketing division of Neilson Marketing Services, who has provided the insurance distribution sector with innovative marketing and communication solutions for over twenty-five years. With our Agency Tsunami program, we have implemented an integrated marketing strategy that includes optimized, professional websites supported by high-quality SEO and Social Media for hundreds of insurance retailers and wholesalers. Our goal is to help your insurance business perform and generate new opportunities. Give us a call at (800) 736-9741 to learn more about how we can do that for you.