While we focus a lot on keyword optimization, mobile experience and backlinks, Google places great emphasis on the on-page experience. Because of this, they introduced a new set of signals called Core Web Vitals.
These signals take into account the speed of page loading, responsiveness, and the visual stability of a website.
In this guide, I’ll explain what Core Web Vitals are and help you figure out how it can affect your rankings.
Core Web Vitals: What Are They And Why Should You Care?
Is this just another scare strategy from Google that will make us overwork everything and get nervous for a few months?
I don’t think so. I think this will be a serious ranking factor in the years to come – and for good reason.
The good news is that you may not even have to do anything else since you are already providing your visitors with a high quality on-page experience.
This is essentially what Core Web Vitals are. It’s a metric for Google’s page experience that is used to determine what kind of experience visitors get when they land on your page.
For example, Google will determine if your page loads fast enough to prevent people from jumping. Failure to do so could result in a ranking penalty and be replaced with a website that loads correctly.
Now we have the following factors that determine the quality of a “page experience” on Google:
- Mobile friendly: The site is optimized for mobile surfing.
- Safe browsing: The site does not contain any misleading content or harmful software.
- HTTPS: You deliver the page in HTTPS.
- No intrusive: The page does not have any issues covering its primary content.
- Core Web Vitals: The page loads quickly and focuses on elements of interactivity and visual stability.
Many websites already offer these factors, and if you are one of them then there is nothing to worry about.
Google’s announcement that Core Web Vitals will become a ranking factor
I checked the press release from Google to see if anything stood out. Google announced that over time, factors such as page load speed and the usability of mobile phones were added. However, you want to make the importance of the on-page experience clear.
You’re looking at upcoming changes in search ranking that will affect the in-page experience. Google says they will incorporate these page experience metrics for the Top Stories feature on mobile and remove the AMP requirement.
Google also says they will give a full six months before this goes live. So it looks like we have some time to think about it and get us on the right track.
Core metrics for web vital
As a website owner, developer, or creator, you consider a million different factors when building your website.
If you are currently working on new websites or making updates to existing websites, there are three factors to consider in the future.
Loading: Largest content color (LCP)
Greatest Contentful Paint, or LCP, refers to page load performance. It covers the perceived charging speed, which means:
How long does it take to display items on your website that are important to the user?
See how this is now different from normal page loading speed?
There is a big difference here.
For example, it’s common to have key information and eye-catching content above the crease, isn’t it?
Well, that’s no use to anyone if all the interesting “over the fold” loading takes six seconds.
We see this all the time when websites have pictures or videos over the crease. They generally take up a lot of space and contain important contextual elements for the rest of the content. However, they will be the last to load, leaving a large white area at the top of the screen.
Google pays attention to this because they find it ricochets a lot of people.
The general benchmark for Google is 2.5 seconds. This means that in 2.5 seconds your website should display everything in the first frame (above the fold).
Note that web pages are displayed step by step. So if the last items load at the top of your page, this is your LCP. A slow LCP = lower rankings and penalties and a fast LCP = higher rankings; As simple as that.
Interactivity: First Entry Delay (FID)
The first entry delay, or FID, is the responsiveness of your website. This metric measures the time between when a user first interacts with the page and the time the browser can respond to that interaction.
This web vital might sound a little complex, so let’s wrap it up.
For example, let’s say you’re filling out a form on a website to request more information about a product. You fill out the form and click Submit. How long does it take for the website to start? process this request?
This is your first entry delay. It is the delay between a user taking an action and the website actually taking that action.
It is essentially a level of frustration for the user. How many times have you kept clicking the submit button angrily because it takes forever?
This is a huge UX metric as it can also make the difference between capturing a lead or capturing a sale.
Chances are someone is taking action because they’re interested in what you offer. The last thing you want to do is lose her at the finish line.
Visual stability: Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
Cumulative layout shift relates to the frequency of unexpected layout changes and the overall visual stability of a web page.
This one is straightforward and I have a perfect example.
Have you ever scrolled through a website, seen something interesting, clicked on it, but at the last second a button loads and you end up clicking it instead?
Now you need to go back and find what you were looking for and (hopefully) hit the right link.
Or, if you’re reading a paragraph and buttons, ads, and videos keep reloading as you read, causing the paragraph to move around the page, you have to keep scrolling to read it.
These are signs of a poor on-page experience. Google takes these issues into account in order to give users the best experience possible.
In the future, the focus will be on mimicking a “personal” online experience. As more stores close and e-commerce continues to boom, it is up to the store / website owners to provide this in-store experience to their users.
For CLS, the goal is to have a score as close to zero as possible. The less intrusive and frustrating page changes, the better.
The impact of key web vitals on content strategy and web development
Now let’s talk about how to improve key web vitals and where to get this information.
Go to your Google Search Console where you will see that the speed test has been replaced with “Core Web Vitals”.
Clicking it brings up a report for mobile devices and a report for desktops.
You’ll see a list of Bad URLs, URLs that Need Improvement, and Good URLs.
Remember, Google takes into account the three factors discussed earlier to determine the quality of the URL.
So if you have a lot of bad URLs, it means they are slow to display the most critical content, slow to process actions, and continually provide a bad experience by changing layout too often.
If the URL “needs improvement” there can be a slight combination of two or three of them. A good URL will be checked out cleanly.
For example, when you open the report on mobile devices, you will see a page that might look like this.
This is an example of a website that needs improvement. This is about the performance when loading LCP or pages.
The goal is 2.5 seconds on mobile, and this URL has an average LCP of 2.9 seconds. So this shows a clear need for improvement.
Moving on to the desktop report, here are some examples of bad URLs.
This one has a CLS problem, which means that the website loads in such a way that the physical structure of the website changes too often.
The target for this is 0.25, and this website has a CLS of 0.55. It is also said that 472 URLs are affected by the same issue, so this website owner still has a lot of work to do to fix this issue.
I’m a big fan of the transparency of these reports as Google makes it easy to find and fix the problem.
You can even click the Validate button when you think you’ve fixed the problem. Google will review your progress and update the report.
This is how you keep track of the most important web vitals of your website
Keeping track of your Core Vitals is as simple as going to the search console and viewing each web property on a case-by-case basis. You’ll want to go in and play around with it to see where you stand.
How to improve key web vitals
Once you’ve got your report, it’s time to make some changes.
You can improve the LCP by limiting the amount of content that you display at the top of the web page to just the most important information. If it’s not critical to a problem the visitor is trying to solve, move it down the page.
Improving the FID is easy, and there are four main issues you want to address:
- Reduce the impact of third-party code: If multiple processes are running at the same time, it will take longer for the action to work.
- Minimize the work of the main thread: The main thread does most of the work so you need to reduce the complexity of your style and layout if you have this problem.
- Keep the number of requests low and the transfer sizes small: Make sure you are not trying to transfer large files.
To improve CLS, size attributes and video elements on all media must be considered. If you allow the correct amount of space for a piece of content before loading the content, you shouldn’t see page shifts during the process.
It also helps to limit transform animations as many of them trigger layout changes whether you want them to or not.
Core Web Vitals and SEO go hand in hand, and we all know that we cannot ignore a single ranking factor if we are to beat our competition and keep our rankings.
Do we know exactly what impact Core Web Vitals have on our ranks? No, we don’t do that. However, Google pays a lot more attention to the on-page experience.
Are Your Websites Following Core Web Vitals Best Practices? Let us know!