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WordPress 5.9 can increase a Core Web Vitals metric by up to 33%

WordPress 5.9 can increase a Core Web Vitals metric by up to 33%

WordPress published an article in their developer section that suggested fine-tuning WordPress’ standard lazy load behavior. Tests revealed that the proposed change improved a Core Web Vitals performance measurement by an average of 7% to as high as 33%.

Suggestions for improving Core Web Vitals in WordPress

The proposal states that fine-grained control of the lazy loading attribute belongs to the theme developers.

That said, it was found that refining how the lazy load is added by default results in significant improvements to the Core Web Vitals metric called Largest Contentful Paint.

This is how the proposal describes the improvement:

“Instead of lazily loading all images and iframes by default, the very first content image (including predominantly featured images) or content iframe should not be lazy.

This is a more sensitive standard than what the current implementation uses, that on average and in scale will result in better out-of-the-box LCP performance while keeping the required bandwidth low. ”


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Lazy Loading and greatest contentful paint

Lazy loading is a way to speed up the perceived download of a page by delaying the download of web page elements such as images and iframes that are not needed at the moment.

Using lazy loading, elements such as images that cannot be seen on the website visitors’ browser screen can be delayed by using an HTML attribute called the loading attribute.

An image is a web page HTML element.

An HTML attribute is code that modifies an HTML element, such as an image.

The loading attribute changes the image, in this case by asking the browser to delay the download.

The loading attribute tells the browser to delay the download of an image and frees the browser to download more important page elements that can be immediately seen by visitors to the website.

This makes the page interactive faster for the visitor.

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) measures how quickly images and other elements are downloaded to the site’s visitors (the browser screen that the visitor sees).


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An image is usually encoded in HTML like this:

sample text

Adding Lazy Load is a simple question to add the HTML attribute of Lazy Load:

sample text

How WordPress 5.9 can enhance the greatest content-rich paint

The developer, who published the proposal to improve LCP, noted that starting with WordPress 5.5, the kernel code added the lazy loading attribute to all images and iframes by default.

But it is not ideal because the images at the top of the page, such as logos and featured images, need to be downloaded in order for the web page to be used.

WordPress implemented lazy loading like this because it had no way to exactly exclude the main images from receiving the lazy loading attribute.

The reason is that all themes are coded differently and this kind of granular exclusion is best done by the theme developers for that reason.

While the current WordPress implementation of standard lazy loading was not ideal, adding lazy loading in this way is a clear improvement over not adding the loading attribute at all.

What is proposed represents a clear improvement, as the test results below show.

Related: Advanced Core Web Vitals: A Technical SEO Guide

How WordPress enhances the greatest content rich paint

What the WordPress development team suggests is to exclude the addition of the lazy loading attribute to the first image or iframe in the code.

The developer tested this method on the 50 most popular WordPress themes and discovered that adding to the first image or iframe element resulted in an average improvement of the LCP Core Web Vitals score by an average of 7%.

Then the developer tested how well LCP improved by adding lazy load to two elements. The earnings trend decreased by an average of 2%, making it clear that exclusion of lazy load from more than one element did not improve LCP better.

Here are some of the results:

Omitting the first content image from being lazy-loaded resulted in a median LCP improvement of 7% (1,877 ms compared to 2,020 ms with current core behavior) and a median image byte increase of 0% (368 KB compared to 369 KB with current core behavior). → Omitting the first content image clearly results in an LCP enhancement without noticeably regressing on saved image bytes.

Omitting the first two content images from being lazy-loaded resulted in a median LCP improvement of 5% (1,927ms compared to 2,020ms with current core behavior) and a median image byte increase of 2% (378KB compared to 369KB with current core behavior). → Omitting the first two content images gives poorer results for both measurements than omitting only the first, ie. it is better to only skip lazy over the first content image and therefore no further tests with larger number of images that are not lazy- loading is required. ”


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Enjoy WordPress Lazy Loading Test Results

5% of the subjects in the test group scored LCP scores that were 10% worse to as high as 21% worse. 42% of the themes improved LCP scores from 10% to as high as a 33% better. Tests revealed that the benefits were better for most of the themes tested.

According to the WordPress proposal:

“While the average LCP improvement across all themes is only 7%, there are greater notable gains for a significant number of themes, while notable losses are minimal.”

Related: 18 WordPress Plugins That Speed ​​Up Your Website

Google makes a proof of concept plugin

A WordPress Core Committer created a proof of concept (POC) patch in plugin form, probably for troubleshooting purposes, and published it on GitHub.

It is not an official WordPress plugin release, so it is not advisable to hurry up and install it.

Official plugin releases are published in the WordPress plugin archive.

When does refined lazy loading arrive?

The timeline for the enhanced light load behavior is currently set to WordPress 5.9.

WordPress 5.9 is currently set to be released in December 2021.


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The proposal for the improved lazy loading feature is currently under discussion and has so far met with a positive response in the comments.

So unless an unforeseen problem arises at the moment, it is very possible that enhanced greatest content-rich paint scores may come to WordPress pages later in the year.


Official announcement of WordPress proposals
Refinement of WordPress Core’s Lazy-loading Implementation

WordPress GitHub page for improving lazy loading
Omit the Lazy-loading attribute on the first content image / iframe

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