If you are a WordPress user, pay close attention to version 6.3 when it is released in August. According to WordPress officials, the new version should help website owners achieve better Core Web Vitals scores, thanks to faster load times with respect to images.
Here at Webtek, we offer SEO audits as part of our service. SEO audits are designed to uncover the current strengths and weaknesses of a client’s website in order to facilitate improvements wherever possible. A big part of every audit is measuring load times.
As you know, load time is one of the core metrics Google uses to rank websites. The faster a page loads, the better it is for users. WordPress engineers get it. So in version 6.3, they are rolling out improved Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) capabilities designed to ensure that images load faster.
What Does LPC Mean for SEO?
If you are not familiar with the LCP concept, it is pretty basic. LCP is a metric that relates to the amount of time it takes for website content to be visible. In many cases, the most LCP-heavy elements are graphics. A page could be weighed down by photographs, computer-generated graphics, or even snapshots of videos. If they take too long to load, they create a problem.
Google wants to see LCPs of 2.5 seconds or less whenever possible. This is their benchmark for a good user experience. Content with a higher LCP could suggest that overall load times will be too slow for typical web users. That could have a detrimental effect on user engagement.
What WordPress Is Doing About It
Among other things, WordPress is leveraging the fetch priority attribute to speed up image loads. Fetch priority, written in HTML as “fetchpriority”, is an attribute that tells web browsers which elements on a given page take priority when loading. The idea is to focus on what immediately shows up in the user’s browser as opposed to content that isn’t seen without scrolling.
Whatever is seen in the browser window at any given time is known as the viewport. Essentially, any content currently in the viewport is given priority over everything else. WordPress wants to take advantage of that. To do so, version 6.3 will automatically assign the fetch priority attribute to images most likely to appear in the viewport when the page is initially loaded.
WordPress engineers say that adding the attribute to images can improve LCP by up to 10%. However, to avoid wasting resources on images that don’t require the attribute, WordPress 6.3 will limit the automatic assigning of fetch priority to images that meet a minimum size threshold.
What It Means to You
As a WordPress user, this means that your pages should load faster once you are running version 6.3. But do not rely exclusively on WordPress to improve load speed. You can take other measures to help yourself.
For example, an SEO audit might reveal that some of your images load too slowly because they are too big. They need to be resized by the browser on-the-fly, preventing other content from being loaded. The simple solution here is to resize your images before uploading them to your WordPress media library. Make them whatever size you intend to actually display.
It will be interesting to see what additional features are rolled out in WordPress 6.3. In the meantime, do not hesitate to contact us here at Webtek for a complete SEO audit and additional services. We are a Salt Lake City, UT SEO and marketing firm with clients located around the world.