In May 2021, Google announced that they would be launching what they call the “core web vitals.” These are the components that each website owner should focus on if they want to continue supporting a good user experience on their website.
Of course, these vitals also influence each website’s search engine ranking on Google (and other search engines).
Google slowly implemented these core web vitals throughout 2021 with the final stage taking place during August 2021. By now, you should have implemented the Google core web vitals to improve your website performance.
To learn more about core web vitals and what you should do, keep reading.
What Are Google Core Web Vitals?
Google’s core web vitals are the web features that Google considers to be the most important for user experience. As of now, there are three core vitals that you need to focus on:
- Largest contentful paint
- First input delay
- Cumulative layout shift
The first focuses on loading speed, the second focuses on interactivity, and the third focuses on visual stability. Each one of these vitals is critical to creating a great page experience.
On top of the core vitals, there are a few other web vitals that you should consider:
- Compatibility with mobile phones
- Safe browsing capabilities
- Avoiding intrusive interstitial pop-ups
Because Google cares about the user experience, they’re more likely to recommend websites that offer a great user experience. So, by implementing these core web vitals, you’re improving your website performance while raising your search engine ranking.
If you’re interested in figuring out how your core web vitals are right now, you can go to your Google Search Console account. In the “enhancements” section of your account, you can see how your URLs are doing.
Why Are Google Core Web Vitals Important?
Google has made its core web vitals an official Google ranking factor. This means that these three core web vitals will play a big part in determining where your website lies on Google’s search engine results page.
If you have a poor page experience, Google is not likely to rank your website highly.
While the implementation of these core web vitals won’t push your website to the top of the results page immediately, it will make up a great chunk of the ranking signal factors that Google uses. Although Google uses over 200 ranking factors to determine your website’s ranking status, you should keep in mind that these vitals are – in fact – vital to your ranking status.
In order to improve your website performance, you have to understand each one of these web vitals. Additionally, you should understand how they help your website, its ranking, and its user experience.
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
Largest contentful paint, also known as LCP, tells Google how long it takes for the greater majority of your web page to load. More specifically, it’s the amount of time that it takes between clicking on your website’s link and seeing the main elements of that page’s content.
LCP isn’t like other page speed measurements. If you’re an experienced website owner or developer, you may know that there are many ways to measure page speed.
LCP is different because it focuses on the user’s experience. Rather than looking at generic page speed, it considers what the user goes through as they’re visiting your website. It also looks at what each visitor sees and how they interact with each page.
To check your current LCP, you can use Google PageSpeed Insights. Using the LCP feature, you can see how you can improve your page speed.
The insight page also gives you access to page performance data in real-time based on Chrome data. Because it uses the Chrome User Experience Report, you can get access to a specific list of URLs that aren’t aligning with Google’s LCP guidelines. The system will detect these URLs and rank them as good, needs improvement, or poor.
The goal is to get every page on your website to load times within 2.5 seconds.
If you have busy web pages or pages with a lot of features, this can be an extremely difficult goal to hit. This core web vital shows just how important good web design is for the user experience.
With that in mind, here are a few ways to clean up your website’s LCP:
- Remove third-party scripts that don’t add anything to the page
- Upgrade your hosting platform if needed
- Turn on lazy loading so that images only load as the user scrolls down the page
- Remove any page elements that are too large
With a few changes, your website could be loading much faster. In turn, you’ll rank higher on search engine result pages.
First Input Delay (FID)
First input delay, or FID, measures the time that it takes for users to interact with your page. They may click on a menu option or enter their email into a sign-in page.
Either way, Google considers these important actions for determining how real users interact with your website.
Just like LCP, Google divides FID into three categories: good, needs improvement, and poor. If the timing takes more than 100 milliseconds, then you’re going to fall in the needs improvement or poor categories.
FID is difficult to measure for pages that contain most or all content. These pages are meant to elongate the amount of time that a user spends on the website. It’s not necessarily a call for action to other pages.
FID isn’t a big deal for these kinds of pages. However, for other pages like your home page, FID is a great indicator of page interaction.
Here are a few ways that you can improve the FID for the pages that matter on your website:
- Remove third-party scripts that don’t add anything to the page
- Use browser cache to help content load faster
Remember to look at the FID measurement for the web pages that matter. Don’t bother trying to change your content pages to appease this second core vital as it’s only meant for web pages that encourage the user to travel through the website.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
Cumulative layout shift refers to how stable a web page is as it’s loading. More specifically, it measures the visual stability of the page.
If your elements move all around the page while it’s loading, this leads to a high cumulative layout shift. The higher the shift, the worse Google is going to rank your web page.
CLS matters because it can affect the way that users navigate your site. If things are moving around, they may have to relearn where elements are once the page is fully loaded up. Even worse, they may click on the wrong link and end up in the wrong place.
Cumulative layout shift can become an even bigger problem for websites that work on mobile devices. It takes more work for your website to load and run well on mobile devices. So, the layout may shift while the web page is loading.
This increases your CLS and makes it less likely that Google will rank you well on its search engine results page.
If you find that CLS is a problem for your website, here are a few things that you can do to decrease it:
- Implement set sizes and dimensions for all of the media on your web pages so that the browser can detect the amount of space that that media will take up on the page
- Reserve the space needed for ad elements so that they can appear on the page and move content quickly
- Add new elements below the fold so that they don’t push content that the user can currently see
By making these changes, you’ll be able to decrease the cumulative layout shift and improve the user experience for your website. You may also notice an increase in the amount of time that users stay on your website if you had a high CLS prior to making any changes.
Arguably, CLS is one of the most direct indicators of user experience since it gives real-time data about how visitors are using your website.
Reinvest in Your Website
Overall, Google wants to create a great experience for all of its visitors. So, Google isn’t likely to recommend websites that users aren’t going to enjoy.
By focusing on improving the three core web vitals, you can show Google that you’re dedicated to improving the user experience for all website visitors. Plus, you’ll be improving website performance for the visitors who do come across your website.
The Google core web vitals are pertinent to practising good search engine optimization, specifically when it comes to Google as a search engine. If you need help navigating these new core web vitals, you can depend on our team at Cosmik Carrot.
Our SEO services can help you increase your website ranking by focusing on the core web vitals and other important web vitals. We start by performing an SEO audit then create a plan with you to take your website to the next level.
Get started today!