What Is Largest Contentful Paint? A Beginner-Friendly Guide

If you’re aiming to stay competitive in the search engine result pages (SERP), paying attention to Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) is essential. This metric measures loading times and has become increasingly important since Google made Core Web Vitals an official ranking signal in 2021.
So, what exactly is Largest Contentful Paint, and how can you leverage it to improve your website’s performance?

This beginner-friendly guide will provide you with everything you need to know about Largest Contentful Paint. We’ll explore how it contributes to the user experience and its impact on your website’s ranking. By the end of this article, you’ll know how to prioritize Largest Contentful Paint optimization in your web development strategy and stay ahead of the competition.

Key Takeaways:

  • Largest Contentful Paint measures how quickly the main elements of your page are displayed, including the featured image of each page and videos.
  • LCP is one of three Core Web Vitals metrics used to measure overall user experience by Google.
  • It’s important for your website to render its key content in less than 2.5 seconds, or it could harm your rankings and lead to poor performance and user experience.
  • You can use tools like PageSpeed Insights and Chrome DevTools to test and monitor LCP performance.
  • You can take various steps to optimize loading speed, including image optimization, caching, and minifying resources. You’ll also want to check for render-blocking resources like CSS and JavaScript.
what is largest contentful paint

What Is Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)?

Largest Contentful Paint is a metric that measures how quickly the main elements on your page are displayed. It’s one of three vital metrics that Google uses to measure user experience, now known as Core Web Vitals, and it’s an important part of search engine optimization (SEO). Largest Contentful Paint elements include images, videos, video thumbnails, and text elements.

LCP defines when the page has loaded enough that users may begin interacting with it, which should be less than 2.5 seconds. If a website doesn’t render its main content in this timeframe, its ability to rank highly will suffer.

How Does LCP Relate to Core Web Vitals?

Core Web Vitals are web performance metrics that measure user experience. They include Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID), and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). All three metrics reflect how quickly the page loads and becomes interactive and how stable your site is while loading its elements.

Together they form the basis of what Google uses to measure user experience. This means you should prioritize improving these metrics to ensure your website’s SEO rankings and user experience aren’t affected.

Why Is Largest Contentful Metric Important?

The Largest Contentful Paint metric is important because it reflects how quickly a user can begin interacting with the page. If pages load too slowly, users may become frustrated and potentially leave before taking any desired action on your website. Slow resource load times could lead to serious consequences if your website isn’t performing well, from reduced chances of ranking higher in SERPs to decreased customer acquisition rates.

It’s essential that this metric is given priority when looking to optimize your site’s performance, as doing so will result in better user experience, increased SEO rankings, and improved business growth overall.

How to Measure Largest Contentful Paint

To measure LCP, log into Google Search Console to view your Core Web Vitals report. If your website or web page loads faster than 2.5 seconds, it has successfully met Google’s threshold for user experience. This is the standard for a good user experience and ranking well on SERPs. If your website takes longer than 2.5 seconds, it means your web visitors may not be having a good experience on your site, and it could harm your SEO rankings.

Tools for Measuring Largest Contentful Paint

largest contentful paint

Google PageSpeed Insights and Chrome DevTools are two of the primary tools to measure LCP. When testing your website with these tools, you will receive an analysis of what you can do to optimize the page’s performance for LCP.

The Chrome Web Vitals extension is an excellent way to continuously measure Core Web Vitals metrics. All you need to do is install the extension. Each time your page loads, you will get a basic Core Web Vitals report about LCP and other elements.

How Do You Find Your LCP Elements?

When you run a URL through Google PageSpeed Insights, it will generate a report that tells you what elements on your page affect its LCP score. Images and videos should be present to accurately measure Largest Contentful Paint because they’re usually the largest content delivered to visitors.

How Is Largest Contentful Paint Calculated?

Largest Contentful Paint is calculated by measuring the time it takes for the largest content element on your page to load. This means that it’s not just looking at whether or not a certain part of your website has been loaded, but instead measures how long it took to be visible on screen.

Thus, if a background image loaded right away, and then a video loaded after 5 seconds, the LCP score would be determined by the latter — not any other elements present. That’s why it’s imperative to focus on the load time of your largest element. For example, responsive images and videos take longer to load than simple background images.

To ensure a great user experience, calculate LCP on mobile and desktop devices. The perceived load speed on a desktop could differ from mobile, and you’ll want to optimize both to give your web visitors the best experience across devices.

Block-Level Elements

When calculating Largest Contentful Paint, block-level elements are taken into account. These include image elements, videos, video thumbnails, and text elements. This means that if any of these elements take a long time to load, they will heavily influence the speed at which your page is delivered to users. This is why they should be optimized efficiently.

What Is a Good Score for Largest Contentful Paint?

The ideal Largest Contentful Paint score will depend on the individual website and its purpose. Generally, it’s best that this metric is as low as possible. Ideally, if the load time is less than 2.5 seconds, it provides an optimal user experience. If you manage to render your web page content faster than this, you can rest assured that your site is doing well.

Remember that each new element or text block you add to your web pages affects the LCP score. That’s why you need to measure LCP each time you make changes to your site.

What Causes a Poor LCP Score?

The most common causes of a poor LCP score include the following:

  • Slow server response times
  • Large image sizes
  • Inefficient caching
  • Unoptimized HTML structure
  • Render-blocking Javascript

All of these factors can contribute to a slower page load process, resulting in a poor user experience for those who visit your website. As such, it’s important that businesses take steps to address each one if they want their pages to load quickly.

Additionally, third-party integrations such as plugins or widgets may also negatively affect page speeds, as their scripts often add extra load times and bulky JavaScript files into the mix, further slowing down your pages.

How to Optimize for Largest Contentful Paint

largest contentful paint (LCP)

There are several things you can do to optimize your website’s Largest Contentful Paint score. Here’s a quick rundown of some potential solutions:

  • Optimize image sizes: Optimizing images plays a big role in your LCP score. Ensure your images aren’t overly large and are compressed, so they load faster.
  • Use an image CDN: A content delivery network or CDN can help you improve the loading time of your images. They will also reduce bandwidth costs and increase scalability, which can be beneficial for large websites.
  • Take advantage of a suitable hosting service: Choose a suitable web hosting service that guarantees sufficient server response time and low latency to deliver your content quickly.
  • Implement caching: You can also benefit from caching your website’s content, which will help with loading and improving the performance of your page.
  • Compress text resources: Ensure that all your text resources, such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files, are compressed to reduce file size without sacrificing their quality.
  • Defer parsing of JavaScript: One way to improve your LCP score is to defer parsing any Javascript code that doesn’t render on the initial page load. By doing this, you can ensure that unnecessary JavaScript doesn’t interfere with the loading of your main content, reducing overall page load times significantly.
  • Minify JS, CSS, and HTML files: Minification decreases file size by reducing lines of code. Review core files like JavaScript and HTML to reduce the largest image size. They could contain unnecessary data that increases the Largest Contentful Paint element size. Minifying your JS, CSS, and HTML files is essential for improving loading time, as this will reduce their size without losing any information.
  • Reduce JavaScript execution times: Reduce your JavaScript execution times by using an asynchronous approach for loading scripts or optimizing existing ones with techniques like lazy-loading (only executing parts of codes after a certain set of conditions has been met) or tree-shaking (removing dead code). This allows you to trim fat from unnecessary coding bloat, so your users enjoy faster response times.

Final Thoughts

Largest Contentful Paint measures how long it takes the largest elements on your website to load. Now that we’ve answered the question, “What Is Largest Contentful Paint,” you know that websites that don’t meet the 2.5-second threshold won’t offer a good user experience, can result in a high bounce rate, and may affect search engine rankings. This could put you at risk of losing out on potential customers.

However, by understanding Largest Contentful Paint and how to assess your score, you can make improvements that lead to fast element-loading times and an improved user experience.