The latest update of the Google Core algorithm was released in mid-June the previous year but played its full role in late August. By rolling out an update to its Core Web vitals (CWV), Google is once again showing that it sets its goals when it comes to prioritizing user experience.
However, most websites are not ready for this change, which has a huge impact on their rankings. Those who do not meet the requirements of the three major web vital signs cannot provide visitors with a smooth and seamless user experience. With that in mind, it can be said that Google is trying to send a clear message to the digital community that user experience should be the number one priority.
Unfortunately, not all agencies seem to take Page Experience Updates seriously; In fact, only 4% of websites currently appear to be CWV compliant. Also, many sites that perform well for desktops don’t do so for mobile devices, which we find unacceptable.
SEO professionals and digital agencies now need to apply their best practices to ensure their websites are visible, rank highly, and most importantly, are user-friendly.
What are Core Web Vitals and How Do They Affect SEO?
Important web metrics are a collection of metrics that Google uses to measure page experience. They consist of the following factors:
- Largest Content Paint (LCP), measures how long it takes to load the largest visible block of text or image on a page.
- First Input Delay (FID), which measures the time from a user’s first interaction with a website to a browser response, and
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS), measures how much page content and elements are shifted while the website is still showing.
Each of these vital indicators has its own scoring rules (based on what it measures). Your website must score “good” on all three key metrics to meet the experience benchmarks set by Google.
Since CWV updates indicate that real-world user experience is already an important ranking factor, SEO professionals need to ensure their websites are updated with the latest Core Web Vitals updates if they are to maintain good performance.
And while Google says that a good page experience doesn’t rule out the availability of relevant content, it’s important to keep an eye on the CWV elements and optimize them if you want to stay at the top of search results.
Let’s take a look at the three core metrics included in Core Web Vitals to improve your websites today!
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
This helps site owners to assess user experience and see if a user will find a page useful based on the render time of the biggest blocks visible to an audience. Site owners require pages on their site to load fast to create a soothing user experience. Load time is not only a critical factor in giving a positive user experience but a page that loads quickly is more likely to rank higher on Google. Snappy load times impact engagement and conversion rates compared to a page with slow loading times.
What Does LCP Measure?
LCP measures the time it takes for different content blocks to load within the user viewport. This tells you how fast content sections render on the visible screen and nothing under the fold is considered. They are images, video poster images, background images, and block-level text.
Site owners should aim for LCP within 2.5 seconds of when a page gets loading.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
Site owners should make it simple and easy to engage with links and buttons on a site in order to drive sales. CLS is a metric that identifies links or buttons that shift after the loading of a web page. It also reflects the difficulty level that users may experience when trying to engage with elements on your site once a page renders.
UX and design play important roles in determining a good user experience. A user will become frustrated if a web page change elements while he or she is reading. CLS helps developers find if images or links shift on the page so site owners can improve usability, drive click-through rates, and improve online sales.
What does CLS measure?
CLS measures if elements in the visible viewpoint shift from their starting position in between two rendered frames. It means this metric helps site owners to understand if content like text, buttons, and banners are pushed around while a user is going through the content on a particular page.
Elements that change position can cause users to become confused and cause difficulty in their experience on a page. Hence, it is important to make that all content stays in place after a page loads on the user’s device. It looks at the main metrics to set the visual stability of a page from a user perspective by considering several factors such as layout shift, impact fraction, and distance fraction. The site owners should maintain a CLS of 0.1 or less.
- First Input Delay (FID)
Online users need pages that are easy to engage with. First Input Delay measures the latency of the input (the time it takes for a page element to respond to a user’s input) to find the pages that could cause your audience frustration.
Today’s websites use different advanced technologies and dynamic content widgets to serve content to their audience. This type of content can improve content delivery but can cause delay times that require a user to wait for their browser to act on their input.
Developers have to reduce the time users spend waiting for a browser to respond to their input in order to better the engagement and usability across the site.
What does FID measure mean?
FID measures the responsiveness of a page at the time of loading element inputs from a user. It means FID only records events like key presses and clicks.
Site owners should provide a good user experience with FID below 100 milliseconds.
FID is difficult to measure as this data can only be measured in the field.
It suggests that your score will depend on variables which are not in your control. These are the device capability of users and internet speeds experienced by your audience.
Other Performance Metrics
Core Web Vitals offer different types of information that developers can use to improve their websites for the user experience. Along with the core metrics discussed above, developers can understand how their code impacts the way users consume the content present on their site.
These metrics are not considered as part of user experiences metrics. These metrics quantify lag times or other technical factors that can adversely impact how an online audience engages with a web page. Hence, take a look at a few other metrics that you can use to understand the experience visitors have on your site.
- First Contentful Paint
First Contentful Paint (FCP) determines the time it takes for a user’s browser to render DOM elements (images, SVGs, and non-white <canvas> elements). This metric locates the resources of render-blocking. It is also measured in seconds, with a range of FCP scores. They are as follows:
- Green: 0–2 seconds (fast)
- Orange: 2–4 seconds (moderate)
- Red: 4+ seconds (slow)
- Speed Index
- Green: 0–4.3 seconds (fast)
- Orange: 4.4–5.8 seconds (moderate)
- Red: 5.8+ seconds (slow)
- Time to Interactive
- Green: 0–3.8 seconds (fast)
- Orange: 3.9–7.3 seconds (moderate)
- Red: 7.3+ seconds (slow)
- Total Blocking Time
- Green: 0–300 ms (fast)
- Orange: 300–600 ms: (moderate)
- Red: 600+ ms (slow)
- Page Performance Score
A Page Performance Score is a single metric that takes into consideration of all the important user experience metrics in Core Web Vitals. This score uses an aggregate scoring system for all types of mobile and desktop visits. A closer examination is required to deliver a single score to understand pages; it takes the weighted average approach. These metrics are simplified in the Page Performance Score metric, but developers can reference scores in each category based on the scores of 90 (good), 50–90 (needs improvement), and below 50 (poor).
Winners and losers in updating basic web vital algorithms
The impact of this CWV update will likely lessen as more webmasters and SEOs start to incorporate this update to improve its performance. However, the impact is expected to increase over time as more and more websites adapt their practices to Google’s recommendations for compliance with key web vital data.
With this in mind, some industries are expected to be more affected than others. For example, sites that include layers of ad placement in their content (e.g. news sites) are more likely to have problems complying with CWV. On the other hand, websites with less content (or simpler content) will find it easier to follow the new recommendations and thus gain the necessary profit.
However, it is important to understand how each Google update can be an opportunity for digital marketers and website owners to see if their efforts to improve and optimize their websites are aligned with changes in Google’s algorithms.
It’s very common for sites that are experiencing a decrease in traffic (due to updates) to only see a performance increase after the next major update is released. Rank improvement can only be achieved by working hard to improve performance. To illustrate the impact of this update on website visibility, we present the results of a study conducted by Amsive Digital showing the 10 most profitable and losing domains:
What do Core Web Data updates mean for your business?
As previously mentioned, not all industries will be affected in the same way by the latest CWV update. To prevent loss of traffic, it is highly recommended to use the available tools that measure the current state of your website and find out which pages require further optimization to achieve “good” rankings.
Note that if one of the CWV measurements is rated as “poor”, the overall site experience is also rated low. The following tools will help you improve your CWV readings and rank higher:
Google Search Console is a tool that allows you to view the ranking of individual pages and identify groups of pages that need optimization. Under “Improvements,” you’ll find a section that directs you to reports that show your website’s performance against key elements of Web Vitals.
The Vitals Web Extension lets you measure your website’s CWV performance in real-time. This displays a list of all affected URLs and a list of items that require optimization. Speeds Insights is a tool you can use to examine the affected pages on your website. It provides desktop and mobile speed information, using real data from the Google Chrome browser.
This provides a good starting point for improving the web’s vital core and overall website performance.
Chrome UX Report provides customized performance reports for your website. Chrome DevTools and Lighthouse are used to measure and test optimization and page updates in the lab.