How to Fix the Largest Contentful Paint Image Placeholder Issue in Shopify for Better Store Speed

How to Fix the Largest Contentful Paint Image Placeholder Issue in Shopify for Better Store Speed

How to Fix the Largest Contentful Paint Image Placeholder Issue in Shopify for Better Store Speed


Improving your Shopify store's speed is vital for both user experience and SEO rankings. One key metric you need to focus on is the Largest Contentful Paint (LCP). Recently, a number of store owners have noticed that certain Shopify experts resort to using an LCP image placeholder hack to trick search engines into thinking the site performance is better than it is. This guide dives deep into identifying and solving the Largest Contentful Paint image placeholder issue for authentic speed improvement.

What is Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)?

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) is a performance metric that measures how quickly the largest visible content element (often an image or video) loads in the viewport. Google's algorithm uses LCP as a critical factor for evaluating page performance and user experience.

Identifying the Problem

If you've hired an expert to improve your store's speed but notice an abnormal LCP value, chances are they might have employed a placeholder hack. This hack places a hidden image as the largest element in the viewport, tricking speed tests into showing better results.

Signs of the Placeholder Hack

  1. Random Large Image: The LCP shows an unusually large image that isn't visible to users.
  2. Consistent LCP Image: Every LCP across various pages is the same image.
  3. Difficulty Finding Code: The image code isn't easily found in theme files like theme.css or theme.liquid.

Impact on Actual Speed and SEO

While this hack might improve your LCP scores on paper, it has multiple downsides:

  • Misleading Metrics: The reported LCP doesn't reflect actual user experience.
  • Negative SEO: Google may penalize your store for deceptive practices.
  • Accessibility Issues: The invisible image lacks meaningful alt attributes and proper sizing, affecting accessibility.
  • User Experience: Genuine speed issues remain unaddressed.

Steps to Fix the Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) Placeholder Issue

Here's a detailed guide to solving the problem and improving your Shopify store's speed authentically.

1. Identify the Hack Code

To locate the malicious code, follow these steps:

  1. Inspect Element: Use the browser's developer tools to inspect the element marked as the largest contentful paint.
  2. Search Theme Files: Look for any unusual scripts or large hidden images within your theme.liquid, CSS, or JavaScript files.
  3. Check Third-Party Apps: Some apps may inject their own code. Disable recently added apps one by one to see if it resolves the issue.

2. Remove the Hack Code

Once you've identified the rogue code:

  1. Theme Customizer: Navigate to your Shopify admin panel, go to Online Store > Themes > Actions > Edit Code.
  2. Search and Delete: Find the code snippet responsible for the placeholder image and delete it.
  3. Save and Test: Save the changes and test your store for any errors.

3. Optimize Images Properly

To improve LCP authentically:

  1. Image Compression: Use tools like TinyPNG or built-in Shopify features to compress images without losing quality.
  2. Lazy Loading: Implement lazy loading for images to speed up the initial load time.
  3. Responsive Images: Use different image sizes for different devices to reduce load times.

4. Improve Server Response Time

  1. Fast Hosting: Ensure you use a reliable and fast hosting provider integrated with Shopify.
  2. CDN (Content Delivery Network): Utilize a CDN to serve static assets faster to users around the globe.

5. Optimize Third-Party Scripts

  1. Minimize Scripts: Remove or defer unnecessary third-party scripts that slow down the page load time.
  2. Async and Defer: Utilize async and defer for loading JavaScript files.

6. Regular Audits

Conduct regular speed audits using tools like Google PageSpeed Insights or GTmetrix to ensure that your site remains optimized over time.


Using an LCP image placeholder hack might offer a quick fix to improve performance metrics, but it doesn't benefit user experience or long-term SEO. Authentic optimization involves identifying and removing such hacks and implementing genuine speed improvements. Follow the steps above to ensure a truly optimized Shopify store that delights both users and search engines.


Is using the LCP hack considered unethical?

Yes, using an LCP hack to manipulate performance metrics is misleading and can harm your site's SEO and user experience.

How often should I check my store speed?

It is advisable to audit your store speed at least once a month or after any significant changes to ensure everything remains optimized.

For additional assistance, you can always consult with verified Shopify experts who follow ethical practices.