Is your website not performing well, but your SEO-optimized content seems to be on-point? If this struggle sounds familiar, you might be experiencing an issue with the Largest Contentful Paint (LCP). But, what is LCP, and how exactly does it work?
If you’re a website owner, it’s important to know the basics of largest contentful paint – but if you’re a website developer, you must know LCP — how it affects search engine optimization (SEO), how it can be measured, how it can be optimized, and where to go for help.
In this article, we’ll help you learn more about LCP to create SEO-optimized content to get you a higher ranking with Google.
Largest Contentful Paint Explained
Largest Contentful Paint, or LCP, is a metric that Google uses to measure a website’s perceived loading speed. It reports the render time for the largest content block within a user’s viewpoint before interacting with a website. For example, the content block could be text, images, video, or an animation. The content would be within the browser frame and ideally is the main content the user first sees.
LCP is one of the Core Web Vitals, which Google uses to determine a user’s overall web page experience. The other two Core Web Vitals are First Input Delay and Cumulative Layout Shift. By using the Core Web Vitals, you can evaluate the performance of your website. Google has announced that as of May 2021, Core Web Vitals will be incorporated into the updated page experience signals rollout, which will combine those factors with previously existing ranking factors such as mobile friendliness and safe browsing, among others.
Why It Is Important to Consider
LCP is an important metric when determining the overall performance of your website for users as it measures how quickly the website loads for users. Lower wait times reflect positively on your page rank with Google. Quick-to-load websites that do well with the other Core Web Vitals appear higher within the search results for each SEO query.
How Does LCP Affect SEO?
Largest Contentful Paint affects SEO content marketing, especially. If a website has a poor LCP, it cannot rank high in the search results for a given query. As a result, a user might not see the page when executing a search, which leaves the SEO ineffective. Ever since Google shifted gears to place quality websites high in the search engine results, having an overall excellent user experience is vital to content marketers.
How Do You Measure LCP?
Google determines the Largest Contentful Paint by using the first paint of page elements compared to what is visible once the user interacts. The first paint refers to the first view of the content block as it loads. The last candidate is the last thing the user sees on the website as they interact, including clicks, keypresses, and scrolls.
User activity can skew the metrics for LCP due to them leaving the page without interacting, called “abort bias”. By considering the metrics from a large sample, Google can determine the average LCP, which is a more accurate reflection of the performance of your page.
Tools to Measure LCP
You can use the following tools to monitor your largest contentful paint. For reference: Both Chrome DevTools and Lighthouse are extensions you can add to Chrome.
Chrome DevTools is a set of tools built into the Chrome browser. These tools help you to edit web pages and diagnose problems. You can see the elements (code) of your page inside the browser to edit it.
WebPage Test is a free, open-source program that tests performance metrics on a web page. The tool offers both advanced and straightforward testing for new and expert users.
Lighthouse is a tool you can use to audit the performance of a webpage. It is also a free, open-source program. You can run this tool from within its website or from the Chrome DevTools.
How Do You Optimize LCP?
Dealing With a Slow Server
- If your server is slow, optimize or upgrade it. If your host offers performance guidance, use it and the server tools available to speed things up.
- You can route users to a Content Delivery Network (CDN); a network of servers distributed worldwide, allowing content to load faster by being geographically closer to the user.
- Caching assets is another tool available. Caching means that you store a copy of the HTML for the web page on the server-side.
How to Handle Rendering Issues
Optimize Your On-site Content
You can preload essential resources within the site CSS files to lower load time. For example, fonts and above-the-fold videos or images are content that you should preload. Another trick is to compress images or convert them into newer formats, such as JPEG 2000 or WebP. You can also compress text files.
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