As an SEO expert, keeping track of Google search console features is vital.
Google recently announced an upcoming search ranking change that incorporates page experience metrics: core web vitals. Those will determine the quality of your user page experience. Although Page experience is only a fraction of the overall ranking factor, utilizing core web vitals will become increasingly important to improve your user experience and get ahead of competitors that do not conform to these usability standards yet.
According to Google Search central, core web vitals’ launch is planned for May 2021. It is right around the corner, so now is the time to get your website ready for this google algorithm update!
What are Core Web Vitals?
Core web vitals are metrics that evaluate your page’s experience based on speed, responsiveness, and visual stability. They will bring additional insights into your visitors’ experience when they are on your webpage.
Before upgrading your webpage or making new ones, learn more about those three new metrics.
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
Largest Contentful Paint, LCP, measures loading performance. It is a user timing metric that evaluates how fast your page loads. Your content should be visible as quickly as possible for the user. According to Google benchmarks, 2.5 seconds or lower is the target to aim for.
- Videos or images can cause a slower load. Google thus advises reducing image sizes. If you already have high-resolution images, you don’t necessarily have to reduce your image quality. Instead, use plugins like ShortPixel to compress the image size without decreasing its’ quality.
- Reduce your use of third-party scripts or unused plugins you currently have
- Upgrade your hosting to one that is fast enough to run your website
First Input Delay (FID)
The second core web vital is FID. It is a key UX metric as it assesses how long it takes for your webpage to be interactive with the user. Meaning, the time it takes for your webpage to respond to a user interaction, like clicking on a submit button. No user likes waiting for a webpage to load. A long loading time will increase your bounce rate, which is a negative ranking signal for Google. You will thus want to avoid that as much as possible as losing a potential lead or sale on the final steps hurts. The best measurement for this is 100 milliseconds or less.
- Give priority to code that is crucial for page interactivity, that should be loaded first
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
Have you already experienced getting ready to buy something but suddenly, the pay button shifts down, and you actually clicked on the “more information” button instead? That annoying shift can lead to a deterioration of the page experience. This is what the final core web vital; CLS measures. This can happen when an image or AdBlock loads and automatically resizes to fit the content. A score of 0.1 or less is optimal.
- Reserve enough ad space to prevent layout shifts
- Use ratio constraints like image width and height dimensions in order to not push your content all the way down. By specifying the size of your images, you ensure no frustrating page changes for the user. Tools like Lighthouse can help you adjust that
- For dynamic content, avoid inserting new content above existing content
With the pandemic reinforcing online activity and the infinite resources available on the web, it became necessary to offer superior webpage experiences. Tools like Google search console, Lighthouse, or Google’s pages speed will help you evaluate your site performance through core web vitals. It might be challenging to fix all your core web vitals scores. Nevertheless, you can identify the main areas to focus on to get your score and web visitor’s satisfaction up.