Coming in 2021 – are you ready for Largest Contentful Paint?

If we learned anything from last year, it’s that change can come out of nowhere, at speed. That applies to SEO as much as to anything else and it’s worth noting that techniques which served you well in the past may well not be right for 2021 and beyond.

Search engines exist to give users the best possible content relative to their queries. As the algorithms get better and provide more accurate results, digital marketers need to evolve at the same time. Clearly, with more live websites than ever, competition has never been keener. To stand out, you don’t just have to produce top-notch content and a great online experience. You also need to show search engines your site is trustworthy and relevant.

Why technical SEO matters

Technical SEO plays a key role in a website’s organic visibility. If your site has firm technical SEO foundations, you will develop a better relationship with all the major search engines. As the focus on an enhanced user experience grows, so too will the importance of technical SEO.

One example of this is that, from May 2021, Google introduces Core Web Vitals in its principal algorithm. That means that a slow-loading site, as well as providing a poor user experience, could have a direct impact on your ranking.

One of the three main indicators Google uses in Core Web Vitals is Largest Contentful Paint, which you may not be familiar with. We look at in more detail here.

What is Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)?

Put simply, LCP is the loading time, or a measure of page’s loading speed until the point where someone can first interact with and see its content. The biggest block of text or picture the user can see is assessed – anything extending beyond the screen is not counted. However, elements which are first seen in the viewport and then get shifted out of view could end up being part of the LCP measurement.

Google measures all kinds of images, and text-block elements including paragraph tags. Essentially, any block-level HTML element containing text elements can be used. (SVG elements, however, are not.)

Why measure it?

Easily measurable and straightforward to optimise for, LCP was selected as a key Web Vitals metric because it provides an accurate assessment of how quickly a user can access a web page. This is clearly an important aspect of overall user experience.

How can I optimise for LCP?

Happily, this is easy. Just study your web page, decide on the biggest image or block of text and optimise it by reducing it or taking away anything that could impede a swift download. There are three most important areas for optimisation, including slow servers, slow resource times and render-blocking JavaScript and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). Finally, given Google’s mobile-first policy, optimise for the mobile viewport before the desktop equivalent.

Talk to us at Front Page

At Front Page Advantage, we’re well versed in all aspects of LCP scoring. We’ve helped many clients improve how they do in this area and we could help you too. While LCP may sound a complex issue, trust us, it really doesn’t have to be. What’s more, it’s something you really do need to be aware of this year. Give us a call to learn more.