Do embedded videos slow down your website?

The WordPress block editor allows you to either add an in-text link (hyperlink) to a page or link to another page using an embed. Can embedded videos however slow down your website? Lets find out.

What are embeds?

Embedded content or “embeds” are snippets of code that display and link content from another page or website onto a subject page. While a traditional hyperlink is a staple on the internet for referencing and linking content, embedded content can give your users a more immersive experience on your website.

Moreover, if you are concerned about visitors staying on your page, embeds can show external content such as a google map location or youtube video without them having to navigate away from your site and never return.

Even webpages can be embedded. While WordPress embeds work just as well as a hyperlinks, WordPress pages are shown as an object in a container. It displays the featured image if available, the page title, and an excerpt. The embed itself looks neat with its minimalist styling, although its appearance may vary with your theme. But now the question is, does it affect page loading time?

Do embedded videos slow down your website?

Page load speed is measured in terms of the time it takes to display all the content on a page to your user.

The problem with embeds is that in addition to loading a page, your website’s server also has to pull information from the source of your embedded content and construct the container holding it. As compared to simple hyperlinks that can be added to text or images, constructing and displaying the embed is extra step your server has to perform on the front end. Behind the scenes (backend), your server is also making a request to another website to pull and show its content. If that other website itself is “slow”, it would take even more time to pull its data.

Given that whole process and the additional work your server has to do in order to display external information , we can say that embedded content may negatively affect your page load speed. No one, especially google, likes a slow webpage. So should you be using embeds at all when website performance is an essential SEO criteria?

When should you use embedded content?

Instead of embeds, it is more optimal to use hyperlinks on text and images to give access to your users to the desired information. This traditional method of linking content results in an overall lighter page, faster loading speed, and therefore better user experience.

If you absolutely need to use embedded content, it is better keep it ‘below the fold’. In other words, place your embedded content on the portion of your page which is not the first thing a user sees when they first access your page. This way, google’s performance measuring tools such as pagespeed insights wont consider it when analyzing your page for largest contentful paint (LCP) and wont detect any cumulative layout shifts (CLS) on that initial page display. To learn more about improving your page performance, check out this article on page speed optimization.