How To Reduce LCP Issues Caused By Featured Image

Published on February 6, 2024

While working on improving my WordPress website, I realized Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) was being highly affected by featured images.

As a crucial element of Core Web Vitals, LCP is a valuable performance metric that measures how long it takes for the largest content element to load and become visible to users. 

One aspect that significantly impacts LCP in blog posts is the featured image, as it’s often the first and most substantial visible element on a page. Unfortunately, there is a lot of information online about improving LCP but not much specifically about the featured image in WordPress, so once I found a solution, I wanted to share it with everyone.

In this post, I’ll show ways to optimize featured images in WordPress to reduce their impact on LCP and improve overall site performance.

How To Reduce LCP Issues Caused By Featured Image

1. Preload The Featured Image In WordPress

To start, I’m assuming you have tried all the common suggestions for improving LCP and optimizing the featured images but haven’t succeeded yet. So, this first suggestion is what I did and what I think is the best long-term solution you will find.

Btw, you can check the score of this page as a proof that it works. My site was good already before implementing this but LCP was an issue. After this change, desktop performance is 99.

One method I’ve found to reduce LCP caused by WordPress featured images is preloading them. By doing this, I can prioritize loading the featured image since the browser loads it first, ensuring quicker rendering of the main content on the page.

To preload the featured image, you can use one of the following methods:

a. Manually: If you want more control over the preloading process, you can manually add the preload code to the head section of my page. For example, if I know the URL of the featured image, I can add the following line of code to the head section:

<link rel="preload" href="URL_OF_FEATURED_IMAGE" as="image">

Just remember to replace “URL_OF_FEATURED_IMAGE” with the actual URL of my featured image.

Now, this solution would be great if you only have a few blog posts or you are trying to implement it for static pages, but what to do if you want this to be done for ALL the posts in your site and not having to manually add this line of code?

Well, I added the code below to my functions.php. Of course, only do so if you are familiar with code and know what you are doing. I don’t think it can break anything, but hey, all sites are different.

/* Preload Featued Image To Help LCP */
add_action('wp_head', 'preload_featured_image');
function preload_featured_image(){
if(is_single() &&  has_post_thumbnail( $post->ID ) ) {      
      $image = wp_get_attachment_image_src( get_post_thumbnail_id( $post->ID ), 'single-post-thumbnail' );      
      echo '<link rel="preload" as="image" href="'.$image[0].'">';

With this code, all the posts in your site will preload their featured image.

Do you want me to help you improve your site’s performance? Find my contact information below.

b. Using a plugin: Several WordPress plugins like Preload Featured Images or Preload LCP Image allow you to preload the featured image automatically. You simply install and activate the plugin, and then configure the settings accordingly.

To be honest, I didn’t try any plugins but maybe you can do it and share your findings.

While preloading the featured image helps to improve LCP, there are a few other practices I like to implement that are more common fixes and you should have done already, but if you haven’t, I add them below.

2. Put The Image After The Fold

FYI – from here and below the text if written with AI. Since I thought the most important point was the one above, I just let AI do the rest. Sorry lol But don’t worry, it is correct information, I just didn’t write it. 

Sometimes, the simplest solution to improve your Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) time is to move your featured image below the fold in WordPress. By placing it after the fold, it won’t be the first element visitors see when they land on your page, giving your website a better chance of loading faster and improving your LCP time.

I’ve found that this solution works wonders, especially on mobile devices. For this, you can use media queries in your CSS to define specific styles for different devices. Here’s a quick example of how to hide your featured image on mobile screens:

@media (max-width: 480px) {
  .entry-content img {
    display: none;

Another way to put the image after the fold is to reorganize your webpage layout. Place the most important and less resource-intensive elements at the top of your page. A simple, well-formatted text is a great example. This ensures your site remains user-friendly and engaging, even if the featured image doesn’t load immediately.

But don’t forget to optimize your images as well. Compress and resize them for faster loading times without losing quality. Popular tools like or ShortPixel can help a lot in this process.

Now, let’s see the main points to remember from this section:

  • Move your featured image below the fold
  • Reorganize your webpage layout (put less resource-intensive content first)
  • Optimize your images with proper tools

By following these suggestions, you’ll be well on your way to making great strides in reducing your LCP caused by featured images, leading to better user experiences and improved website performance.

3. Compressing The Images

When it comes to reducing LCP caused by featured images in WordPress, compressing the images is a crucial step I can’t afford to miss. From my experience, I’ve found that large images that are slow to load can significantly impact LCP, so optimizing and compressing the images to achieve a faster load time is essential.

Now, let me share some tools and techniques that I find useful for compressing images. To begin with, I like to use a desktop tool called TinyPNG. I simply drag and drop the image I want to compress, and it does the magic for me – it returns a compressed image with minimal loss in quality. This way, I don’t have to sacrifice the visual appeal of my website.

Another option I turn to whenever I need to compress images is using plugins within WordPress itself. Some plugins I found helpful are:

  • Smush: It automatically compresses images when they’re uploaded to the site. It also offers an option to compress existing images in bulk, which is a big time-saver.
  • ShortPixel: It’s another plugin that optimizes images and even converts them to a WebP format, which is gaining popularity for its diet file size and high quality.

However, it’s essential to strike a balance between image size and image quality. So, I always ensure I don’t overly compress the images to the point where they lose their visual appeal.

In conclusion, compressing images is a critical step in reducing LCP caused by featured images in WordPress. Using tools like TinyPNG or plugins like Smush and ShortPixel, I can balance image size and quality harmoniously, leading to a faster-loading website and a better user experience.

4. Remove The Featured Image

Sometimes, the best way to reduce the LCP caused by a featured image in WordPress is to completely remove it. I’ve encountered cases where a featured image’s size was unnecessarily large, causing LCP issues. So, let’s check out how to remove a featured image and some possible alternatives.

First, you can go to your WordPress dashboard, navigate to the specific post or page, and simply click on the Remove featured image button. This might seem like a drastic step, but you can explore alternative ways to present the main content without a featured image.

Another option is to replace the featured image with a smaller and well-optimized image that still conveys the main message of your content. By doing so, you can maintain visual appeal while improving your LCP score. Don’t forget to use modern image formats like WebP or AVIF for a lighter and faster loading experience.

Lastly, if you wish to use sliders or complex elements for your featured image, optimize or remove them for mobile viewports. This helps in reducing the LCP, as sliders could cause higher layout shifts (CLS) on mobile devices.

Removing the featured image might not always be the most desired solution, but it can significantly contribute to improving your website’s performance and user experience by reducing the LCP caused by it.

What is LCP in Google PageSpeed Insights?

LCP, or Largest Contentful Paint, is one of the three Core Web Vitals that Google uses to measure the performance of a website. As a critical metric, it focuses on the loading time of the largest, most visually prominent piece of content on a webpage. The reason LCP matters is because it can significantly impact user experience (UX) and web performance.

In my experience, the main content on a page usually refers to the featured image, especially in a WordPress site. However, it can also be a large block of text, a video, or other media elements. A lower LCP value is always better, as it indicates that the largest piece of content loads faster, leading to happier users who can interact with your site more quickly.

From the search results, I found some common techniques to improve LCP, which are relevant to optimizing featured images in WordPress:

  • Image optimization: We can compress and resize images to make them smaller without compromising their visual quality.
  • Next-gen image formats: Switching to advanced image formats like WebP can lead to better compression and faster load times.
  • Prioritize critical resources: Load the most important elements first, like above-the-fold content, to improve LCP scores.

Final Thoughts

Remember that improving LCP is not just about optimizing images. Other factors like reducing unused code and prefetching also play a crucial role when improving web performance and user experience.

And, keep in mind that LCP is just one part of web pages optimization, you have to do it all to have a well performing site, you can just fix 1 thing and let 10 more ruin your efforts.

I hope this article has helped you. Good luck!