First Contentful Paint - What Is It?

November 18, 2021 in SEO, WEB DESIGN| 5 min

Improving Your First Contentful Paint to Increase Your Website Load Times

There are various studies that indicate that the most web users tend to leave the web page if the load times are over 3-5 seconds. This means that if your website has a slow loading time, you might be losing out on the potential customers and conversions that might help your business because they leave the website without even checking what it offers.

This also cause a problem with the search engine rankings, due to high bounce rates, search engines raking algorithm considers the website as an issue and rank accordingly. High bounce rates hurt the SEO performance of a website, meaning that fewer customers will find you.

An easy way to measure your first contentful paint metrics is to visit the Google PageSpeed Insights, here you can check your website performance metrics, in this case the First Contentful Paint (FCP).

The FCP performance metric is one of the most important website performance measurement metrics in Google’s Core Web Vitals and has a vital impact on how your website ranks in their search engine.

First Contentful Paint - What is it?

First Contentful Paint, commonly known as FCP is a user-oriented measurement metric that shows how long the web page loads for its users. It is not the actual website speed, but the first paint in the browser. FCP metric precisely measures the first piece of content’s loading time on the web browser, which also known as “first paint.” This indicates the amount of time that your users will have the wait before they start seeing the first content.

Compared to a traditional website speed test, First Contentful Paint offers more of a website performance metric for its users. If the website offers a positive user experience, the browsers are more likely to stay on the website and navigate its content and pages causing a lesser bounce rate.

Google indicates that a good performance metric for the First Contentful Paint is the one that is less than a second. Anything above three seconds is considered as a poor performance metric by Google. Therefore, FCP should one of the priorities when you design and build your website since it has an effect on both the user experience and search engine ranking page performance.

Importance Of FCP and Ways to Optimize

To improve your sales revenues or to want customers to connect with you, you must first understand that the users need to spend more than five seconds on your website so they can click through pages or CTAs. This also places a huge emphasis on the search engine performance on your website since the first few results get the majority of user traffic from search engines such as Google. 

To achieve aforementioned aspects, you must first prepare a website that is both appealing to Google and to your target audience. By preparing a SEO optimized website you ensure that you are appealing to Google and various search engines so they can rank your website higher. However, one must understand that Google updates its algorithm constantly and SEO is an on-going process that must be constantly worked on.

As one of the last important updates, Google placed a huge importance on website performance by introducing Core Web Vitals which include First Contentful Paint, First Input Delay, Largest Contentful Paint and Cumulative Layout Shift. As a web designer, you must be focusing on these four areas to improve upon so you can have a better chance at ranking higher on search engine result pages. 

To improve your First Contentful Paint, we prepared a list of measures to optimize your website for a better score.

1. Get Rid Of Render-Blocking Resources

Web browsers analyze a website by converting the design and various elements into a usable format for the browsers. Resources such as HTML is much easily and efficiently understood by browsers than CSS and JavaScript. Since a website usually combines all three as design elements, browsers need to put these pieces together so while combining the resources, easy to analyze elements such as HTML gets stuck with the rest of the resources. 

This efficiency blockage is called render blocking. To improve a browser’s ability to understand the website, it is possible to rewrite these resources in a more efficient way. Professional web designers and developers can easily assist you with this to improve your performance.

To help browsers to efficiently analyze your website, you can create a critical path that shows the essential resources. This critical path acts as a map for the browser so that it knows which resources to analyze first and which order. If you have code on your website that is unused, it is a good idea to remove them or blocking them from the analyzing process since it causes browsers to take a longer time.

2. Optimize Time to First Byte (TTFB)

There is a time loading between the browser and the server, which is what we call the server response time. This is also known as Time to First Byte (TTFB). This is the amount of time it takes for browser to get the information from the website’s server. It can be break down into three steps, the request from the browser, the processing and the response. 

Lagging of any of these three steps will cause the TTFB to increase. First Contentful Paint metric comes into play here due to TTFB and content loading time. Combine with website’s rendering, these three components indicates the FCP. 

In order to reduce TTFB, you should consider using quality hosting for your website, Cloudflare and a website caching plugin.

3. Compress and Reduce Image and Text Files, Minify CSS and Javascript

There are couple of options for you to compress and optimize your image files. You can do it on an image file editor or by using a compression plugin. Same goes with your text files. This will help browsers to render your website more quickly and efficiently.

Additionally, it is a good idea to minify CSS and Javascript codes on your website. This is a proess of removing any unnecessary and unused codes to make it easier for browsers to render your website. 

By following the above steps, it is possible to improve your First Contentful Paint so that your website can rank higher on search engine result pages and can offer a more pleasant user experience for its browsers.

If you are looking to improve your FCP metrics, you can contact us to discuss your project and we will be more than happy to help and answer your questions.