Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): A Guide to Web Performance



In 2020, Google introduced Core Web Vitals, a standardized metric system for users. This system indicates user experience, which is a critical ranking factor for Google.

Although Core Web Vitals have various metrics that help to enhance the overall website experience and performance, one of the most crucial ones is the LCP or Largest Contentful Paint.

Now, there might be several questions arising in your mind revolving around LCP: what exactly does LCP mean, and why does it matter for a website’s ranking? And what can you do to improve it?

Worry not! All these questions will be well covered in this ultimate guide. Also to make things easier for you, we have listed all the sections in a Table of Contents so that you can easily navigate to whichever section interests you.

However, If you are a beginner you may start from the beginning. So, without further delay let us get started!


What is the Largest Contentful Paint or LCP?

Largest Contentful Paint or LCP is one of the metrics of Google’s web core vitals that indicates how fast the main content of a webpage loads. Its general purpose is to tell you when the largest element of a webpage which can be either an image, text block, or a video comes under the viewpoint of the user.

In short, it shows you how quickly the most important part of a webpage can be viewed.

This “main content” can be anything depending upon what the content this available on the website.

Generally, it could be,

  • Block of text: Within HTML, any “block-level elements” (like paragraphs or divs) that contain “text nodes” (actual text content) or “inline-level text elements” (such as spans or emphasized text).
  • Images or Graphics: Any content that might be placed within the <img> tag or inside an <svg> element.
  • Videos: Any content within <video> element
  • Even any element styled with a background image using CSS, specifically loaded through the url() function. However, it does not apply to CSS gradients.

What’s the difference between Largest Contentful Paint and First Contentful Paint?

There are some possibilities that at some point, while going through Core Web Vitals, you might get confused between these two metrics Largest Contentful Paint and First Contentful Paint.

At first glance, anyone could treat these metrics as identical but there is a significant difference.

The LCP or Largest Contentful Paint: It shows how long it takes for the main content to appear or load on the webpage completely within the user’s viewpoint.

Whereas in, FCP or First Contentful Paint: It shows how long it takes to load or show the first object, regardless of whether it is the main content.

Let us compare it with a book for better understanding. Suppose, your webpage is just like a book, when you open the book, what’s the first thing you generally look for? The first chapter!! right? It means you would go directly to the main content. That’s what LCP is.

However, If you open the book and the acknowledgment page or the table of contents appears rather than the first chapter, that’s considered FCP or First Contentful Paint.


Why does Largest Contentful Paint even matter for your WordPress site?

The LCP is a part of Google’s Core Web Vitals metrics set, which indicates real-world user experience and website performance and helps search engines rank websites on SERPs.

So, it serves three purposes,

  • Better User Experience
  • SEO
  • Better Performance

Better User Experience

  • LCP helps you to determine user experience by testing when a user starts getting value from your website.
  • If the LCP score is higher, it indicates a better user experience and higher changes in higher SERP ranking.
  • It has been found, that visitors don’t care much about how much it takes to load a web page completely, but they do care about how fast they can easily access the valuable content from it.
  • Visitors prefer to access only those websites from which they can get value very quickly rather than waiting for every script and element to load.
  • However, LCP alone is not enough to determine the user experience of a webpage. There are also other factors such as a user-friendly design and usability of the website also matters.

Better SEO

Since the LCP, or Largest Contentful Paint, is part of the Core Web Vitals metrics set, it helps determine user experience and website performance for search engines. This means that a poor LCP score can significantly impact your ranking in search engines.

It’s also worth noting that Google always gives priority to the quality of content, relevance, and authority of inbound links, all of which play a major role in determining a website’s ranking.

Better Performance

In the earlier sections, you have already read that users always strive to get valuable content from websites as quickly as possible, therefore websites need to load fast.

To make this happen, the best thing you can do is to improve the LCP score of your website. Wondering how? We shall discuss these methods in a later section.

A higher LCP score is a better indicator of :

  • Better Search Engine Rankings: Since LCP is part of Core Web Vitals, it affects how Google ranks your website. By optimizing your LCP, you can increase your chances of getting better rankings, leading to more visitors and driving higher ROI.
  • Low Bouncing Rate: Faster loading times mean visitors are less likely to get frustrated by page loading and leave your website too quickly.
  • Higher conversions: With improved LCP, your website will be fast, and faster websites have generally more conversions.

How much the Largest Contentful Paint score is good?

As per the recommendations mentioned by Google, a good Largest Contentful paint should have below 2.5 seconds. (LCP is measured in time)

Here is a picture representing LCP scores and their meaning by Google:

Google's LCP Score Value
Google’s LCP Score Value

Google considers LCP timing below 2.5 seconds considered as Good.

LCP timing between 2.5 seconds to 4.0 seconds needs improvement.

and above LCP timing of 4.0 seconds is considered poor.

LCP Score Value Chart
LCP Score Value Chart

What causes the Poor Largest Contentful Paint score?

Now, you might be wondering what possible reasons could lower your Largest Contentful Paint Score. Here is the answer:

There are four major factors that a webmaster or web designer must keep in mind while designing a website to ensure good LCP scores.

  • Slow Web Hosting: One of the primary reasons for Poor LCP score is slow web hosting. These web hosts have generally slow TTFB. (WPOven has Faster TTFB and has the fastest servers with dedicated resources).

Note: Time To First Byte (TTFB) is the time it takes for your browser to start receiving information from a website after you’ve requested it. It’s like the time it takes for the first piece of mail to arrive after you’ve sent a letter. A lower TTFB means you start getting information from the website faster.


  • Unoptimized Media Files: If your website has large media files such as images, videos, or other files that take a long time to load, it can slow down the LCP.
  • Render-Blocking Resources: Scripts or stylesheets that block the rendering of the main content can delay the LCP.
  • Slow Server Response Time: If the server hosting your website is slow to respond to user requests, it can increase the time it takes for the main content to load.
  • CDN not installed: CDN or Content Delivery Network can enhance TTFB by delivering content from global servers rather than downloading web content from the origin server.
  • Unoptimized Code: Poorly optimized HTML, CSS, or JavaScript code can cause delays in rendering the main content of the webpage.
  • Unoptimized Fonts: If the FCP element is text and you are using custom fonts that as not optimized can take a longer time to load.
  • Not using compressed files: If you’re not using any compression technologies such as Gzip or Brotli, browsers will take longer to load your website’s files.
  • Third-Party Scripts: Integrating third-party scripts, such as analytics or social media widgets, can introduce additional delays in loading the main content.
  • Network Issues: Slow internet connections or high network congestion can affect the time it takes for the main content to be displayed.

Largest Contentful Paint Test: Free Lab Tools

There are plenty of Free online testing tools available, through which you can easily check your WordPress or any Website’s LCP score. Below are some of them for your reference.

1. PageSpeed Insight

Google’s PagepSeed Insight is one of the best tools you can utilize. All you have to do is, go to the PageSpeed Insight Website and enter your domain.

Google's PageSpeed Insight tool
Google’s PageSpeed Insight tool

After that, click on the Analyze button. Google will then display all the results for both mobile and desktop.

PageSpeed Insight Performance Results
PageSpeed Insight Performance Results

Check both mobile and Desktop results and see the areas of improvement recommended by Google in the Diagnostics section as shown below:

PageSpeed Insights Diagnostics Report
PageSpeed Insights Diagnostics Report

2. Google’s Lighthouse

Another free tool you can utilize is Lighthouse, which is also owned by Google. It is an open-source and free tool that can help you improve your website performance. All you have to do is just install the Lighthouse extension on your Chrome browser and start optimizing.

After Successfully installing it on your Chrome Browser, visit your website and click on the extension icon on Google Chrome > Click on Generate report.

Google's Light House
Google’s Light House

3. SEMrush Site Audit Tool

If you have SEMrush, it has a dedicated site audit tool through which you can easily diagnose technical aspects of your website completely.

  • Go to the Site Audit Tool and Enter your website’s Address into the tool.
Semrush Site Audit tool
SEMrush Site Audit tool
  • Click on the “Start Audit” button.
  • On the next page, you have the option to customize settings as per your need. You can adjust some settings if you want. For instance, you can select how many pages the tool checks. Plus, you have also an option to check your website’s mobile or desktop version.
Semrush Site Audit Settings
SEMrush Site Audit tool
  • But most of the time, you can leave the settings as it is. Just click on “Start Site Audit” and the tool will thoroughly crawl your website and check everything.
  • After everything is done, you will see a report. Click on “View Details” in the section called “Core Web Vitals.”
Semrush Core Web Vitals tool
SEMrush Core Web Vitals tool
  • On the next page, you will see a section called “Metrics”. This is where you can see your LCP score. You will also see suggestions on how to make it better.
Semrush LCP metrics Results
SEMrush LCP metrics Results

WPOven Dedicated Hosting

Largest Contentful Paint: How to Improve? (10 effective methods)

Improving the Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) of your WordPress site is crucial for enhancing user experience and search engine ranking. Below are some of the effective Largest Contentful Paint WordPress fixes that can help you achieve this milestone and improve your LCP score.

1. LCP Element fix: Identify the underlying issue

One of the first things you need to do is to find out the exact reason that causes the LPC score low. For this, you can utilize any of the above-mentioned Free tools to run the Web Core Vitals.

For example, if you have run a test using the PageSpeed Insight tool, in the diagnostic section, the results will be shown like this:

Diagnostics section in PageSpeed Insights tool
The diagnostics section in the PageSpeed Insights tool

The LCP element can be different for different pages, it might be a paragraph of text on some pages or it might be an image or video on other pages.

Understanding the LCP element of a page makes it easier for you to follow the right method to fix the issue and optimize your website experience to the next level.

2. Upgrade to Fastest Web host

Apart from identifying the issue causing low LCP scores, it is always highly recommended to choose the fastest and most reliable web host in the first place.

The fastest web hosting can solve 90% of all your web hosting issues and doesn’t let these types of problems happen to any extent.

It is because these types of web hosts offer dedicated servers and are equipped with the fastest technology server stack capable of providing fast server response time that improves your LCP score.

If you want to go for a shortcut method to improve your LCP time, easily migrate your WordPress site to WPOven.

Not only does WPOven offer performance-optimized hosting infrastructure, but we also have integrated and built-in advanced features that give your website a performance boost.

Ensuring a complete peace of mind web hosting experience, allowing you to entirely focus on your business growth without having to deal with improving vital web elements such as Largest Contentful Paint time.

However, you can also go for the other effective methods listed below. If none of the methods works for you, it is still best to migrate to a better-managed web hosting service.

3. Use Content Delivery Network (CDN)

CDNs, or Content Delivery Networks, have been the best thing that ever happened to the internet. They have revolutionized the way content is delivered to users worldwide compared to traditional methods.

It is one of the best tools that has helped millions of websites deliver content fastest regardless of their Hosting server location. (Thanks to their network of hundreds of servers located worldwide)

In the traditional method, when a user sends a request from the browser, the entire site content, including HTML files and static assets, is fetched from the origin server which takes time to load.


Read: 🚩 How to Activate Free CDN on a WordPress Site?


Due to this fact, a CDN can also help improve LCP by balancing network load, as visitors’ requests do not need to queue on the same server and hence load faster.

If you host your website with WPOven, you will be provided Free CDN powered by Cloudflare along with an inbuilt Edge caching feature that boosts your website performance.

However, if your hosting provider doesn’t offer your Free CDN, you can install it manually too. You can refer to our two dedicated posts on “How to install Cloudflare on Your WordPress site?” and ” How to Setup Cloudflare Settings on WordPress? ” for a complete step-by-step guide.

4. Optimize Images

If you have used large media files especially high-definition images or infographics, they may be responsible for delaying loading times, which can impact your LCP score.

The best thing you can do for this is to optimize images to smaller dimensions and compress them with the help of various free online tools such as Kraken or ImageOptim. You can even utilize Cloudflare’s inbuilt feature, “Cloudflare Polish,” if you have installed Cloudflare on your WordPress site.

On the other hand, you can also opt for the WebP file format, as Google highly recommends it due to its highly performance-oriented image format, which is 34% smaller than traditional PNG and JPG counterparts while maintaining the quality of the image.

5. Optimize Server Response Time (Enable Caching)

The server response time can be easily reduced with the help of Caching Technique. Yeah, you are right just like browser cache, server caching also works on the same principle.

The server also stores the ready-to-go version of the page and sends this HTML document every time whenever the visitor requests a page. This way the server saves server response time and it doesn’t have to recreate the same HTML document again and again.

If you have hosted your WordPress site on WPOven, caching is automatically optimized for you. If you host elsewhere, you can enable caching using free plugins like WP Super Cache or paid ones like WP Rocket.


Note: WPOven includes an inbuilt server-level edge caching feature, a proprietary minify plugin, and integrated premium WProcket, all Free in every plan to deliver blazing-fast loading times and the fastest server experience.


Check out our post on the best WordPress caching plugins for more options. Your page load time is closely related to how quickly your web server responds to requests.

Apart from that you can follow these below tips for better results:

  • Implementing server-side caching, available in your hosting configuration.
  • Upgrading server specifications, like CPU and storage capacity.
  • Optimizing all your scripts or codes, such as database queries, can be technical and might require help from web developers.

For optimizing your database, you can utilize the WP-DB Manager plugin for your WordPress site. This plugin can optimize your database by reducing bloat and automatically cleaning it up from time to time.

6. Disable Render-Blocking JavaScript and CSS (Delete of Defer)

Render-blocking JavaScript is a JavaScript file that starts loading even before the main content of your webpage starts loading (Though it is not immediately necessary). Due to this process, it can slow down how quickly your main content, known as the LCP or Largest Contentful Paint appears on the screen.

Therefore, to fix this issue, here are some strategies you can apply:

  • Always try to remove any JavaScript that your webpage doesn’t require.
  • Delay or disallow the loading of JavaScript so it doesn’t block the main content from loading.
  • Delay the JavaScript loading process until the user doesn’t start interacting with your webpage.

However, if your website is on WordPress, the easiest way to do this is by using a WordPress plugin such as WP Rocket.

Similarly, an unoptimized CSS can also hamper your website loading time and impact LCP. Therefore, you are required to load as little CSS as possible and only load the important CSS first while delaying less important critical CSS until later.

To help in this regard, WordPress plugin such as WP Rocket is sufficient especially if you are not a developer.

Also, remember to follow Tips and suggestions from your website optimization tools on which CSS or JavaScript files you can safely remove.

7. Enable the Preloading feature for critical resources

Preloading is a special process in which critical resources such as images, scripts, stylesheets, or other assets are loaded in advance in the background while your page is rendering.

These critical resources are generally stored in your browser’s cache so that they can be quickly used when required.

When you preload important resources like CSS, fonts, and images that show up at the top of your page, you can stop delays and make your webpage load faster.

8. Allow Page Caching

Page caching is a process in which certain elements of the webpage temporarily store the generated HTML output in the form of a cache after being loaded for the first time.

his technique helps in avoiding multiple requests made by your website’s database, and the data can be easily retrieved very quickly each time it is requested.


Note: Page caching might not work well for all websites, especially if the website is completely dependent on dynamic content and information such as location, language, etc. Page caching is likely to be any help in this case.


9. Enable Minification of CSS, JavaScript, and HTML files

Minification is a process in which you remove unnecessary characters, extra spaces, and comments from your website’s files such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript to make them smaller and more compact. This approach helps reduce the script size and results in faster loading times.

If you have hosted your site with WPOven, they can automatically do this through their free Cloudflare and WP Rocket integration, as well as their proprietary minification plugin.

However, if you host your website elsewhere, you can utilize any Free WordPress Performance plugin or Premium ones (For better results) to minify your code.

10. Optimize Font Loading

If your “main content” or the LCP element of the webpage is text and it is appearing late on the screen. It might be your fonts are not well optimized and loading very slowly. (Generally seen in the case of custom fonts)

To fix this problem, you can use a simple CSS trick called Font-Display: Optional CSS Descriptor. This tells the browser to use a backup font if the custom one doesn’t load quickly.

It gives a chance for a custom font to load, but if it is found to be slow, the browser uses a backup font instead, which avoids delaying the appearance of the content.

Another option is Font-Display: Swap, which loads the backup font first and then switches to the custom one once it’s ready. But be careful, as this can cause layout issues if the fonts are different sizes.

Additionally, you can also follow these tips to avoid LCP issues caused by fonts:

  • Stick to system fonts if possible.
  • Host fonts yourself to avoid relying on external sources.
  • Create subset fonts with only the characters you need to make them smaller.
  • Use “font-display: optional” in your CSS to let the browser know it’s okay to use a backup font if needed.

Remember, these tips not only help with LCP but also improve overall website performance.

11. Do not use Lazy Loading

Lazy loading is a special technique used to speed up your website by delay loading of certain elements, such as images until a user interacts with your website.

No doubt it is somewhat helpful but it can also affect your LCP time, especially if the main content is image.

If you’re using the built-in lazy loading feature introduced in WordPress 5.5. You might not encounter this issue because WordPress automatically excludes the first image in your content from lazy loading as of WordPress 5.9.

However, if you are using a WordPress Lazy Load plugin (Especially powered by JavaScript), reconfigure it to avoid lazy loading the main image on your page or else prefer to disable lazy load

Alternatively, you can tag the main image with a special attribute called “loading=’eager‘” to ensure it loads right away.

12. Enable Server level Gzip or Brotli Compression

Enabling compression at the server level helps reduce the size of your website’s files, such as text resources like CSS, HTML, and JavaScript. This speeds up their transfer, improving your site’s loading time and resulting in a better Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) score.

To achieve this you can choose any of the two popular compression techniques: Gzip or Brotli. Both methods retain all the information in the file during compression without any loss.

Since WPOven is a Proud Partner with Cloudflare, Brotli compression is automatically enabled. However, if you’re hosted elsewhere, you need to check whether your site has Gzip or Brotli enabled or not.

If not, you can also get help from WordPress plugins to enable it, such as WP Rocket, or ask your hosting provider.


Summary

Learning How to optimize the LCP score can not only enhance user experience but, also help to achieve better Search engine rankings.

“Therefore, we have provided you with the best and most effective methods that can help you optimize your LCP score and unleash your website’s maximum potential.

Here are the noted 12 Best methods you can apply to optimize your LCP score:

  • Figure out the LCP Element
  • Upgrade to Fastest Web host
  • Use Content Delivery Network (CDN)
  • Optimize Images
  • Optimize Server Response Time
  • Disable Render-Blocking JavaScript and CSS (Delete of Defer)
  • Enable the Preloading feature for critical resources
  • Activate Page Caching
  • Enable Minification of CSS, JavaScript, and HTML files
  • Optimize Font Loading
  • Do not use Lazy Loading
  • Enable Server level Gzip or Brotli Compression

However, if you have any additional tips or suggestions, please let us know in the comment section below.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *