Since these parameters were announced as definitory for the new User Experience score that Google will use for ranking websites, the core web vitals were the talk of marketers and site owners all around the world.
When it comes to technical SEO, the notions can be overwhelming for the untrained eye, but this article and various other online resources are meant to shed some light on these concepts and make them work to the advantage of your business.
Here is what you need to know.
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An Overview of the Google Core Web Vitals
Google announced that one of the major indicators of a website’s performance will be the user experience it provides. To quantify that, the search engine giant uses various parameters that it compiled in a few essential metrics: the Core Web Vitals.
But, before we get to that, let us make one thing clear:
Why Is Page Experience Important for Ranking?
While Google uses about 200 different factors to determine your website’s ranking in the search results, it announced that those relating to the user experience will weigh more from now on. The Core Web Vitals metrics are measuring various page experience signals that indicate the quality of the user experience when visiting your website.
Other UX factors that Google takes into account are determining the mobile-friendliness of a web page, how safe it is for browsing, how intrusive its pop-up elements are (intrusive interstitial), how fast the page is loading, and so on.
These indicators show if a web page is interfering in any way with the user’s browsing session, which would decrease the UX factor and, as a consequence, its ranking factor.
This doesn’t mean that you should rely on UX alone for Google to push you at the top of the results page, but it’s definitely a very important factor to take into account when dealing with your web design, web development, SEO, and so on.
We will go through each one of the three core web vitals, describing what they quantify and what to do to improve the user interaction with your website.
LCP (Largest Contentful Paint)
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) measures how long it takes for a web page to load in the real world when an actual user is visiting it. Compared to other page speed indicators, the LCP shows how fast you can expect most of the elements on your website to show up when the page is loaded.
Obviously, this is a big deal for the UX factor, as we all know how frustrating it gets when a web page takes too long to load its functional elements. We recommend checking the GSC (Google Search Console) as well, besides checking PageSpeed Insights, as GSC gives you an overview of the page speed factors.
FID (First Input Delay)
First Input Delay (FID) measures how long a user has to wait before interacting with the page. Actions related to the user input, like entering an email address, clicking on a link in the menu, expanding accordion text, or interacting with animation shouldn’t make the user wait, at least not more than fractions of a second or 1-2 seconds at most.
This particular core web vital is essential for websites that use a lot of interactive elements. But, even if you mostly have content-based web pages on your site, you should still be aware of what FID does and where to find it.
For any interactive element, whether it’s a login page, a payment page, or an interestingly designed menu, you should take the speed of these interactions into account, and increase it if GSC retrieves a poor result, of more than 300 ms per action.
CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift)
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) refers to the way a web page behaves when it’s being loaded, more precisely, how its layout shifts during that time. You have surely experienced an unexpected layout shift before, elements of a page moving while loading, causing you to misclick or to have trouble reading the content.
Obviously, this kind of issue impacts the user experience and it will reflect in your core web vitals. It can be caused by adaptive fonts, an image or video with unsure size, or generally elements of the page that load at different times.
CLS measures the real situations when your web pages behave in such a way, giving you a report on what happens during actual visits to your website.
How to Optimise Your Core Web Vitals
If you are getting poor results in GSC or PageSpeed Insights on one or more of these crucial metrics, you should start optimising your website for it sooner rather than later, as any poor performance can affect your rank score and your reputation.
Optimising your Core Web Vitals takes a bit of technical knowledge of web design and SEO. If you don’t have the expertise in the domain, you can hire an experienced marketer who can find the right solutions for your website and your budget.
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