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July 12, 2021

Everything You Need To Know About Core Web Vitals

We all know that Google’s main aim is to give users the very best online experience possible and that websites that deliver an awesome experience will be rewarded with top rankings.

In June 2021, Google showed just how much value it puts on user experience with the introduction of a major new algorithm update, the Core Web Vitals Update.

The Core Web Vitals are a set of three specific factors which are primarily focused on page speed and user interaction.  This update joins forces with Google’s new ranking signal, the Page Experience Signal, which is a collection of factors including HTTP security, safe browsing (ie no malware on the page), mobile friendliness and a lack of intrusive interstitials (pop-ups).

Page experience is one of Google’s official ranking factors – and even though Google has around 200 of these  – there’s no doubt that the combined package of these Core Web Vitals will have a significant influence on how well (or badly) a website fares in the search pages.

If your website is important to you, particularly if it’s your key source of enquiries and sales, then you need to make Core Web Vitals a top priority.  If you don’t, you are likely to find yourself trailing down the rankings and out of sight of the people who are crucial to your business success.

In this guide, I will unpack each of the three Core Web Vitals in more detail and give you ways of improving your scores.

1. Large Contentful Paint (LCP)

This metric is concerned with page loading speed.  Unlike other page speed metrics, LCP represents the perspective of an actual user opening up a web page.  It measures the time taken for the largest item in the viewport to appear on the screen (of any device).  That item could be an image, text or a video.

The ideal LCP measurement is 2.5 seconds or faster.

Pages can be slow to load because of bloated code or incorrectly sized media.

What you should do to improve your score: 

Your LCP may be too high because you have large webpages with lots of features and high-resolution images.  You may need to remove some images and clean up the page’s code.

You can also:

  • Remove unnecessary third party scripts
  • Upgrade your web host
  • Set up lazy loading

 

2. First Input Delay (FID)

This metric is concerned with the time it takes for a page to become interactive.  Google wants to know how interactive each page is when there is keyboard interaction (such as a click or a scroll) by a real-life user.

The ideal FID measurement is less than 100 milliseconds.

Problems can occur when coding is bloated.

What you should do to improve your score:

  • Remove any non-essential third-party scripts
  • Use a browser cache
  • Minimise or defer JavaScript

 

3. Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

This metric asks the question: how long before the page becomes visually stable?

You know how frustrating it is to click on something, only to find that you’ve been taken somewhere else.  Somewhere you DON’T want to be!  This happens because the page layout has taken too long to settle and you’re working faster than the page is stabilising.

Google wants the CLS measurement of a webpage to be less than 0.1 seconds.

What you can do to improve your time:

  • Put ads in a reserved place
  • Add new user interface (UI) elements below the fold
  • Make sure the attributes of your media (images, infographics, videos, animations etc) are defined appropriately

 

How to measure your Core Web Vitals

You can check your scores using Google PageSpeed Insights and the data in your Core Vitals Report in your Google Search Console.   This is a new report which shows all the URLs that are indexed by Google.

Google rates each URL as either ‘poor’, ‘needs improvement’ or ‘good’.   Remember, the speeds and standards that Google currently has in place aren’t set in stone and may change depending on how the actual user experience evolves over time.

Where to from here?

As things stand, less than 15% of websites are currently sufficiently optimised to pass the minimum standards for Core Web Vitals.  But Google also says there’s been a huge amount of activity by website owners getting ready for the update which shows that they are taking it seriously.  And for good reason.  Visitors are 24% less likely to abandon a site if it meets the minimum Core Web Vitals measurements.  Now just imagine how things could look for you if your pages were at the top end of the scale!

Some web owners are able to optimise their websites without any specialist help, but I’ve been working with Core Web Vitals from the very early days and I know from experience that this can be a very technical challenge.  But it’s also a very necessary challenge because improving the user experience and getting Core Web Vitals right is absolutely crucial to business success.

My self-managed online SEO course, The SEO School, is a great way for business owners to take charge of their digital visibility.  I’ve designed the course very carefully to give participants a thorough understanding of SEO through hands-on practical tuition and lots of insider tips.  You’ll learn how to implement a successful SEO strategy that will take your website to the top of the search engine rankings.

If you’d like to learn more about what The SEO School involves or if you want to chat about any aspect of SEO, please get in touch through https://theseoschool.com or email me at karen@theseoschool.com.au.

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