A proposed update for WordPress 5.9 could mean that when Google’s Page Experience update completes its rollout next month, several site owners won’t have to worry as much. That’s because WordPress 5.9 could boost one of the Core Web Vitals metrics by up to 33 percent, with no additional effort required on your part. This claim comes straight from WordPress, which published an article proposing a change to its default lazy-loading behavior that improved Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) by significant margins.
The content management system (CMS) powers almost 40 percent of all websites – that’s 455 million – so to say an update like this will have a major impact for site owners (and potentially search results) is an understatement. So, exactly how will this magical metric boost happen?
As a refresher, lazy loading defers the loading of non-critical resources to speed up the perceived download of a page, while the LCP metric measures the time it takes to load a web page’s content and have it be ready for user interaction. So, it’s clear how these two factors are related. You’d assume, then, that lazy loading – which is a WordPress default and speeds up interactivity – would improve the LCP score.
But according to WordPress’s proposal, adding the lazy loading attribute to all images and iframes is, in fact, not ideal. That’s because the above-the-fold content on a web page, including things like featured images and logos, must be downloaded before a web page can be usable.
In its proposal, WordPress describes the update like this:
“Instead of lazy-loading all images and iframes by default, the very first content image (also considering featured images) or content iframe should not be lazy-loaded.
“This is a more sensitive default than what the current implementation uses, that on average and at scale will result in better LCP performance out of the box, while keeping necessary bandwidth low.”
The update is deceptively simple: excluding the lazy loading attribute from the first image or iframe on a web page. But the result is a drastically improved LCP score, which couldn’t be coming at a better time. If all goes according to plan, WordPress 5.9 is set for release later this year, just a few months after Google’s Page Experience Update finishes rolling out in August.
As a WordPress site owner, you won’t need to worry too much about working on your LCP scores. As Google’s Martin Splitt said, Core Web Vitals improvements can and should be an ongoing task, so a boost at the end of the year isn’t any less valuable than one right now. But there’s no harm in getting a headstart and checking out a reliable Google Page Experience guide while we still have a few weeks to go.
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