Google recently announced a new set of metrics called “core web vitals” that will be used to measure the health of websites. The company says these metrics will provide a better understanding of how people use the web, and how to improve their user experience.
These user experience metrics are based on data collected from Google Search Console, Google Analytics, and other sources. They include things such as page speed, mobile friendliness, and user input speed.
It is important to get on the right side of these metrics since Google is starting to use them as ranking signals that will have a direct impact on your SEO rankings in Google’s organic results. In addition to providing insight into website performance, core web vitals also help identify issues with sites that may not otherwise show up in analytics or search console reports.
If you’re interested in learning more about Google’s Core Web Vitals, and how to make the most out of it, then read on!
What’s Google’s Core Web Vitals?
Core Web Vitals is a report that can be found under the ‘experience’ section of your Google Search Console. The report records and calculates performance metrics using real-world usage data, from actual users who visit your website.
The report was first introduced in 2018. The performance metrics will help you identify common issues such as the loading speed of your page, the time taken before a user can start to interact with your webpage, and whether your page’s layout bounces around or not. We’ll talk about each of these issues in more detail further down the article.
The report will also help you prioritize and fix user experience issues. They achieve this by assigning each web page, on each device type (normally desktop and mobile devices) by giving it one of these 3 statuses; poor, needs improvement, or good. By going through this report, you’ll get a prioritized list of actions that you can take to improve your website’s overall user experience.
There’s more! In 2021, Google started to use metrics from these reports as a user experience signal, which impacts the rankings on Google’s search results. As a result, this gives every website owner more of a reason to make sure their user experience metrics on these reports are on point.
Why Should You Care About Your Website’s Core Web Vitals?
There are several reasons why you should care about your website’s core web vitals:
1) Improve User Experience: If your website has poor UX, visitors won’t enjoy visiting your site. This means they’ll leave quickly without taking any action. It could even lead to losing potential customers.
2) Better Ranking Signal: As mentioned above, Google has started to use certain metrics from the Core Web Vitals report as part of its ranking algorithm. These metrics are meant to give insights into what makes a great user experience. For example, if your website doesn’t load fast enough, it might negatively affect your Google search rankings.
3) Identify Issues That Might Not Be Visible Through Other Reports: Some problems aren’t visible through traditional reporting tools like Google Analytics or the rest of the Google Search Console.
Here are some examples, if someone visits a page that takes too long to load, they might decide against visiting that site again. If a site isn’t properly responsive on smartphones, visitors won’t enjoy browsing through its content. And if a site doesn’t support AMP pages, readers who want to read articles quickly will find themselves frustrated by having to wait while the entire page loads before being able to see any text.
So by looking at this report, we’ll be able to spot these issues.
How Do You Measure Your Site’s Core Web Vitals? What Do You Need To Do To Improve It?
The 3 main metrics here are calculated based on real-world measurements from real users who visited your website in the last 30 days. Let’s look at each metric individually.
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
In plain English, the ‘largest contentful paint‘ measures how much time it takes for a visitor to see the largest piece of content on the top of the screen. A lower number indicates faster loading times.
Normally, the largest content element on your page would be the page’s hero image – the background image on the top of the page. Therefore, you can improve your LCP score by optimizing your image files, which reduces its file size and speeds up the loading speed. You can do this by using online tools such as TinyJPGor paid tools such as ShortPixel Image Optimizer.
First Input Delay (FID)
FID measures how fast your page takes to load after a visitor clicks on a link. This includes images, scripts, stylesheets, and more. Ideally, you want to keep this as low as possible.
To reduce the execution time, you should focus on reducing the amount of code required to display your content. For example, instead of including every single element on your page in HTML markup, use CSS media queries to hide certain elements until they become visible. You can also use lazy loading, which gives priority to images at the top of the page by not loading images further down until the user scrolls towards it.
One way to reduce your web page’s load time is by compressing files. Gzip compression reduces file sizes without affecting their functionality. However, some servers refuse to serve compressed versions of static resources. So, you may need to ask your hosting provider to enable gzipping for those specific assets.
If the FID suggest a slow server response time, you can consider using a content delivery network (CDN). In plain English, a CDN takes a copy of your website and saves it in its network of servers and data centres. When someone clicks on your website, the CDN will serve the closest copy, which in theory, should give the fastest response time.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
This measures the total sum of every unexpected layout shift that occurs from when your website starts loading. You’ll recognize this by seeing a non-animated jump (aka content shift) that typically happens when the page is still loading. The higher the CLS, the more the webpage shifts, which indicates a bad user experience.
Other than being a SEO factor, the biggest reason to care about CLS is that it affects your bounce rate. If people don’t like what they’re seeing on your website, or just when visitors are about to interact with the website, if it jumps around, it’ll be very confusing!
Now that we’ve gone through the 3 metrics in the Core Web Vitals report, you can get a more detailed score and actionable insights on how to improve it by using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool.
What is Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool?
Google PageSpeed Insides is a free tool to analyze your website. It analyzes your web page and collects lab test data that are then combined with real-world user data from the Chrome User Experience Report. The result of this analysis is a score that summarizes the performance of your web page. You can experiment with how different metrics affect your score using the Lighthouses scoring calculator.
|First Contentful Paint (FCP)||The first point in time when a user can see any page content on the screen.||10%|
Speed Index (SI)
|The visual progression of a page load and how quickly the content is painted.||10%|
|Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)||The time until the largest content element is fully visible on the screen.||25%|
|Time to Interactive (TTI)||The amount of time it takes for a page to become fully interactive.||10%|
|Total Blocking Time (TBT)||The severity of how non-interactive a page is until it becomes reliably interactive.||30%|
|Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)||How often a user experiences unexpected layout shifts.||15%|
The weighting of each performance metric is only accurate for Lighthouse 8 and based on past track records, it’ll change in future updates. Based on the performance metrics’ scores and weighting, the tool will assign an overall score at the very top. Please note these scores will fluctuate even if you haven’t changed anything in the code.
Give it a try! Simply go to PageSpeed Insights here, type your URL and click on the ‘analyze’ button. Similar to the Core Web Vitals report, you’ll get a separate score for desktop and mobile devices, which you can toggle.
Overall, Core Web Vitals is important because it directly impacts both your web visitor’s experience and your ranking on Google’s search results. To improve the metrics in these reports, you can get a prioritized list of actions by running your website through the PageSpeed Insights tool. In general, the majority of the fixes can be implemented by using WP Rocket, a paid WordPress plugin that caches your website and accelerates its load speed.
If you’re looking to improve your Core Web Vitals, then we can help! Our monthly subscription uses WP Rocket and other paid WordPress plugins to ensure your website visitors get the best possible experience!