Updated on: September 18, 2023
Name: Largest Contentful Paint
Referred to as: LCP
Category: Web Performance, UX, Technical SEO
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) is one of Google’s Core Web Vitals (CWV) metrics, focusing on loading performance. It measures the time it takes for the largest content element on a page (e.g., an image or text block) to become visible in the viewport. A good LCP score suggests a better perceived loading experience for users. However, while the introduction of CWV made waves in the SEO community, the tangible impact of these metrics on search rankings did not match the initial hype. Nevertheless, an efficient website with a stellar user experience is beneficial in its own right, beyond any specific SEO advantages.
Web Performance: Modern web standards increasingly hinge on user experience, recognizing that users demand websites that are not only informative but also fast and responsive. Metrics like LCP provide actionable insights into perceived load speed, helping developers optimize sites more effectively.
Google introduced the Core Web Vitals in 2020, with LCP being a significant metric in this suite. However, its importance is more rooted in enhancing user experience than drastically influencing search rankings.
When optimizing for LCP, consider the following:
1. Prioritize loading of key visual elements.
2. Optimize image sizes and formats for faster loading.
3. Limit the number of plugins and third-party scripts, as they can bog down performance.
While there was significant anticipation surrounding the impact of Core Web Vitals on SEO rankings, the true value of LCP—and its counterparts in the CWV suite—lies in the focus on user experience. A faster, smoother site not only retains users better but ensures a brand or business leaves a positive, lasting impression.
- Regularly monitor LCP scores, aiming to keep them below 2.5 seconds for a good user experience.
- Optimize server response times and utilize content delivery networks (CDNs) for better performance.
- Prioritize critical CSS and defer non-essential CSS.
- Overload your webpage with heavy media files without optimization.
- Rely solely on LCP or any single metric for a comprehensive understanding of site performance.
- Forget mobile optimization. A significant portion of users access websites via mobile devices.
Always approach LCP and other performance metrics from a user-centric perspective. While they offer important data points, the end goal should always be to provide the best possible experience for users.
Google rolled out the Core Web Vitals in 2020, with the aim of providing standardized metrics for web performance and user experience. LCP, along with First Input Delay (FID) and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS), are part of this initiative.
What Google Says: “Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) is an important, user-centric metric for measuring perceived load speed because it marks the point in the page load timeline when the page’s main content has likely loaded—a fast LCP helps reassure the user that the page is useful.”