Core Web Vitals have been the talk of the town!
Not surprising at all, considering Google’s announcement last year to incorporate UX signals into their ranking algorithm starting June 2021.
This massive update reveals that the search engine will start ranking web pages based on the overall user experience.
So if you’re a business that’s all about offering stellar user experiences and increasing search engine visibility, then you’ve come to the right place!
From introducing you to Core Web Vitals to telling you why you should care about them, we are also sharing top tools and key strategies to help you keep these Core Web Vitals in check and deliver a brilliant user experience.
Core Web Vitals - What’s that all about?
We’ll need to backtrack a bit for this. Up until recently, Google’s approach to sharing the best possible results for every search query that you run was almost semantic. By that we mean, the search engine would pull up high-quality content that would best match the search query. Google did this by doing an audit of four basic page experience signals like:
- Intrusive interstitial guidelines
In a move to take things to the next level, Google recently rolled out the fifth factor - Core Web Vitals, a set of user-centric metrics that are being applied to evaluate the overall user experience on the web.
No, it’s not just about the ‘need for speed’, these web vitals take into account the experience of a user when interacting with your website - that involves the web page’s “responsiveness” and “visual stability” in addition to the speed factor.
Google’s 3 Core Web Vitals
Google laid out 3 Core Web Vitals (CWV) to measure a website’s user experience score. So how can you pass the test? You need to score ‘good’ for all three Core Web Vitals to improve your site’s UX score.
Let’s dive right into the 3 aspects of Core Web Vitals:
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
LCP simply refers to the loading time - i.e. the average time it takes to load the main content on a page.
The recommended LCP by Google is 2.5 seconds or less. If the web page takes longer than 2.5 seconds to load, you would receive a low LCP score which could affect your rankings.
Bear in mind that the main content on a page could be either text or media. For a product page, the main content could be an image whereas for a blog post it could be an H1 tag. Google determines what is the main content and how quickly it appears to the user.
First Input Delay (FID)
First Input Delay measures the interactive capability of a page. FID takes into account the time taken by the page to respond to the first input from the user. This could mean a link click, pressing a key, or tapping a CTA button.
According to Google, an FID lesser than 100 milliseconds is considered to be a good score.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
This last metric, Cumulative Layout Shift revolves around the visual stability of a page while it loads. You may have noticed how on some pages there is a shift in the layout (content or images shift lower in most cases) as the content loads.
This is not a good sign. This shift in layout means the page stability is not great and this ends up frustrating a user as it disturbs their view.
You need to aim for an ideal CLS score of 0.1 or less - maintaining good visual stability for the page will help you enhance the user experience and win at SEO.
Why should you care about Core Web Vitals?
Well, if Google’s page experience update wasn’t a big enough reason to care, maybe this will get your attention:
If a page load time goes from 1 second to 5 seconds, the bounce rate could increase by 90%!
Source: Think with Google
There you have it - user experience has gained much prominence in the last few months and this is just the beginning!
Users love a fast-loading site, so leave nothing to chance! Work on your Core Web Vitals - this will not only give you a better position in the SERPs but you will end up offering users the experience that they came for.
Great user experience will benefit you in more ways than one - we’re talking driving in substantial traffic, receiving amazing customer reviews and referrals in plenty!
Top tools to measure and analyze Core Web Vitals
Given how critical Core Web Vitals are for the user’s web experience, Google has included these metrics in some of their most popular tools.
- Chrome User Experience Report picks up real-time data as users browse through the web. They then pass on this data to developers via commonly used tools like PageSpeed Insights and Google Search Console. The Chrome User Experience Report analyzes data related to all three Core Web Vitals - this information is crucial to site owners who can instantly assess their performance without having to do it manually by adding third-party analytics to their pages.
- Now coming to PageSpeed Insights, this tool will quickly analyze your web pages’ performance and share recommendations on how you can further improve the page load time. It measures all the 3 Core Web Vitals (on mobile and desktop) and shares field data, in other words, real-time data of users through the Chrome User Experience Report.
- How does Google Search Console help? This tool analyzes the data passed on from the Chrome User Experience Report to show web page owners’ issues that exist across the website.
- Google also offers a plugin - the Chrome Web Vitals Extension that lets you instantly measure the 3 Core Web Vitals. The extension shares great feedback on all the aspects from the loading time, page responsiveness to the visual stability of the page, and also lets you view your competitors’ scores.
How to improve your page experience by optimizing Core Web Vitals?
Now that we know what Core Web Vitals are and we’ve taken a stock of the tools that can be used to measure them - let’s quickly understand what are the measures that you can take to improve these newly introduced search ranking signals.
You may notice that your competitors are already on board and are enjoying a better ranking of late. It’s alright if you’re just starting, we’re here to help you get on track right away!
We’ll look at how you can improve the performance for each of the 3 Core Web Vitals - LCP, FID, and CLS.
Increasing your loading speed
Now Largest Contentful Paint is all about how quickly your page loads the most important piece of content and makes it visible to the user.
When it comes to increasing the load time, elements like images and videos could be the culprit that is resulting in slow site speed. If these components are slowing down your page, you can compress them, cache them to load faster, and place them below the fold.
Another thing you could do is check up on your existing server. Your page might be loading slowly due to server issues - shifting your web hosting to a dedicated server from a shared server could help you in this regard.
Google also recommends using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to speed up web pages. CDN services are available on premium hosting plans - what it does is that it distributes your content across servers around the world, ensuring that your page loads quickly regardless of how far the user is located from your web server.
You can even conduct an overall analysis to see if there are any processes or plugins that can be further optimized or even removed, to improve the site speed.
Improve the page interactivity
Improving First Input Delay or your site’s interactive capabilities matter, after all a great first impression is everything in today’s digital-first world.
Compressing your CSS files and utilizing lazy loading for content below the main fold could also help improve your FID score.
Bring in visual stability
Time to work on the last element - Cumulative Layout Shift.
Now to bring in layout stability, you need to determine the space for each element (images/videos) when they load on the browser. Define the dimensions for each of the images and videos that you use. For this, you will have to access the platform that you have used to build the website (WordPress, Webflow, Shopify, etc.).
You need to work on your mobile view primarily as processors on mobile devices are comparatively weaker.
Using aspect-friendly ratios in CSS can also help a great deal! You could even add indicators on the page to show that elements are still loading - this will stop the user from clicking on elements that may shift while loading.
Gear up to impress your users with a rich web experience
When it comes to web page rankings, Google is taking a strong stand towards a more user-centric approach.
It is and has always been about providing your users the best experience possible! Now is the time to get moving and enhance your website’s UX with fast-loading content. Measuring and optimizing your Core Web Vitals will help you enjoy a boost in your rankings giving you an edge over your competitors.