A welcome update sees PageSpeed Insights using Lighthouse 8.4.0 – a new version that helps publishers diagnose a common problem that negatively affects Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) scores and, as a result, aids overall Core Web Vitals optimization for WordPress websites.
With Page Experience having completed its rollout, this update, which addresses a side effect of lazy loading, has come at an excellent time for site owners who have been affected by the issue.
It has long been believed that lazy loading is the best approach to increase page speed. Through lazy loading, the browser knows not to download images outside the LCP viewport (or elements that are outside the user’s screen) until later. This is great – but a WordPress update from early 2020 complicated the matter.
If you remember, WordPress 5.4 introduced native lazy loading of all images because developers realized it resulted in a speed gain. And to be fair, it does. But it also means that the lazy loading HTML attribute is added to images within the LCP viewport, such as the all-important featured image.
As would be expected, lazy loading images in the LCP viewport has a slight negative impact on the user experience (UX). And while this lazy loading technique used by many WordPress sites is effective in reducing image bytes, it does so at the cost of a delayed LCP. But in WordPress’s (and site owners’) eyes, the pros of this outweigh the cons, and it’s something SEOs have simply learned to live with.
This issue is precisely what the Lighthouse update addresses.
A new Lighthouse 8.4.0 audit will detect if any elements in the viewport are lazy loaded to make publishers aware of the issue from the get-go. In its announcement, Google said LCP can improve by as much as 15 percent if images in the viewport are not lazy loaded. Google explained,
“Lighthouse will now detect if the LCP element was a lazy-loaded image and recommend removing the loading attribute from it.”
The best part? It’s all happening right now. Lighthouse 8.4.0 is live in PageSpeed Insights, and users will be notified when a lazy loaded element is in the LCP viewport. Of course, optimizing for Core Web Vitals doesn’t end here. For more tips on improving LCP (and other page experience ranking signals), check out a Google Page Experience guide and get those scores even further in the green.
More SEO News You Can Use
Google Ads Updates Keyword Matching Processes for Phrase Match and Broad Match: Back in February, Google announced that exact match keywords identical to the query string would be given preference when that keyword is eligible to match. In other words, advertisers’ ads would also be shown for queries with the same meaning as the keyword used. A few months later, Microsoft Ads announced the same update. And now, Google is continuing the trend, introducing the change to phrase match and broad match. The update means phrase or broad match keywords identical to a query will now always be preferred when eligible to match. For example, if the query string buy a mattress can match multiple other broad match keywords in an advertiser’s account (such as purchase a new mattress or buy a mattress online), Google will give preference to the identical keyword, helping your ads get shown for more relevant searches.
Google Launches Three New Search Offerings for Travel and Leisure Service Providers: Google announced on Wednesday a range of exciting new travel and leisure products for the hard-hit tourism industry. These include ticket-booking links and pricing in search results, “eco-certified” badges for hotel listings and new “Things to do” ads. The ticket-booking feature can be promoted for free. And the “Things to do” ads, which will appear above search results when users search for activities and attractions, will surface helpful information such as images, pricing, reviews and booking links. With vaccinations on the rise and the world slowly and stutteringly returning to some sense of normalcy, these new features could help the industry claw its way back to being the behemoth it was. Not only that, but they make Google an even bigger force for competitor online travel companies to reckon with.
YouTube Releases Must-read Blog on How It Recommends Videos: YouTube’s most detailed explanation of its video-recommendation system yet has been uploaded to the YouTube Official Blog. Written by YouTube’s VP of Engineering (and featuring an accompanying Q&A video), the article takes a deep dive into how the system works and answers common questions. Among a wealth of helpful insights for content creators and video marketers, the most important takeaway is the company’s emphasis on personalization – most of the factors listed in the article are reliant on users being logged in to their accounts. Also highlighted are YouTube’s dedication to “responsible recommendations” – i.e., not pushing low-quality, inaccurate content just because it’s what a specific user chooses to engage with – and the human evaluators and certified experts tasked with analyzing videos on subjects that require authoritativeness. Check out the blog for a full explanation that’s bound to inform your video strategy.
Mozilla Tests Bing as the Default Search Engine for 1 Percent of Users: Here’s another reason to consider diversifying your SEO portfolio: Mozilla Firefox, which uses Google as its default search engine, is currently running a study to test users’ response to Microsoft Bing instead. The news was first reported by Ghacks that from September 6th until the end of January next year, 1 percent of Mozilla desktop users will get Bing as their default search engine. It’s interesting that Mozilla is running this test, considering the fact that Google struck a $400-450 million dollar deal with Firefox to become its default search engine last August. But with the contract expiring in 2023, it’s possible Firefox could eventually partner with Microsoft instead. Whether this happens or not, there’s something to be said for optimizing for search engines other than Google. With the phasing out of third-party cookies and a wealth of exciting new search engines to consider, who knows how search could look in the next few years.
Take a Look at 20 Search Engines You Can Use Instead of Google: For an SEO article to be read over 4 million times within the first 15 hours of publishing, it’s got to be something people care about. And this is exactly what a Search Engine Journal blog, titled “20 Great Search Engines You Can Use Instead of Google,” managed to do (we seem to have an anti-Google trend running here). Written by Chuck Price, the article lists 20 stellar alternatives to Google. While these search engines are forced to fight over the 10 percent of market share Google doesn’t own, they represent an untapped advertising audience and are still worth considering. Among obvious additions like Bing and DuckDuckGo, the list includes a couple of search engines you’ve likely never even heard of (StartPage, anyone? Gibiru?). It also serves as a reminder that, evidently, millions of people care about: There’s more to the internet than Google.
Editor’s Note: “SEO News You Can Use” is a weekly blog post posted every Monday morning only on SEOblog.com, rounding up all the top SEO news from around the world. Our goal is to make SEOblog.com a one-stop-shop for everyone looking for SEO news, education and for hiring an SEO expert with our comprehensive SEO agency directory.