Google always follows a user-first policy. All its algorithm updates are aimed to provide the user a better experience on the web. Google makes hundreds of algorithm updates both small and large for this every year. Every large update affects the website rankings and they roll out a few large updates every year. The recent largest update that Google rolled out is the Core Web Vitals update in 2021, June 15. This update is said to have rolled out all over the world by the end of August. So, what does this update mean to the billions of websites out there? Let us find out.
What is the Core Web Vitals Update?
Google had announced last year that page experience signals will be added to the hundreds of ranking factors that Google considers for ranking web pages. Page experience signals are metrics that measure and quantify how a real-world user perceives a website. Google intends to update page experience signals every year. Google’s page experience signals consist of Core Web Vitals, Mobile Friendliness, HTTPS, and no intrusive interstitials. The Core Web Vitals include metrics that measure the loading performance, interactivity, and visual stability of the page based on real-user experience. Google identifies these as the factors that are needed to provide the best user experience.
The Core Web Vitals
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
Page loading speed is an important consideration when it comes to websites. LCP is a more user-centric metric that measures the loading time or loading performance of a webpage. Unlike other metrics that Google used to measure page loading speed previously, this metric measures page speed from the perspective of the end-user. It measures the time taken by the main content on a page to load. That is the time taken by the largest image, video, or text block to load from when the page first started to load. The size of the element is usually the size visible to the user in the viewport. To provide a good user experience, LCP should be below 2.5 seconds and if it is more than 4 seconds it is considered poor.
First Input Delay(FID)
First Input Delay is another important core web vital that quantifies interactivity or what the users feel and experience when trying to interact with unresponsive pages. Put simply, it measures the delay in interaction with any interactive element on the page like links, buttons, expanding lists, menu options, forms, etc. FID score is measured as the time between a user’s first interaction with a page (by clicking a link) and the time when the browser starts processing event handlers ( loading a page ) in response to the user’s action by doing any of the actions mentioned above and the FID should be kept low so that the page is usable. Ideally, FID should be equal to 100ms or below that. Anything more than 350 ms needs to be improved considerably to make your page accessible and convenient for users.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
Users often experience changes in elements on the page when the page is loading like trying to click on a button or link but end up clicking another one. This can be really frustrating to the users and CLS measures how often users experience these unexpected layout shifts or visual stability of the page. Visual stability is very important in user experience as stable web pages can make them easier and delightful to use. This can be very important for users. A good CLS score should be less than 0.1 and if it is zero it means there is no shifting.
How To Measure The Core Web Vitals
Google provides a lot of tools for improving page experience. Core web vitals are important to improve user experience and engagement levels. They show how accessible your website is and the first impression that you make on the users. To improve the page experience of a website, you can generate reports after measuring these core web vitals using different tools. Based on it you can find the issues that affect the page experience factors and fix them. There are several tools that aid in measuring user experience by core web vitals.
All these tools provide reports based on real user data and measure all three core web vitals. Websites can also set up other real user monitoring to measure these factors.
- Chrome user Experience Report
This tool uses real user data collected anonymously to measure each core web vitals without having to manually install analytics.
- Page Speed Insights
This tool analyzes content on your webpage and generates suggestions to make it better.
- Google Search Console
Google Search Console generates a quick and generic Core Web Vitals Report that helps you fix poor user experience on-site based on real-world data.
You can configure a web-vitals library to measure and send core web vitals data to an analytics tool like Google Analytics.
- Web-Vitals Extension
This allows you to dynamically measure core web vitals without writing any code.
Lab tools can help you measure and improve the core web vitals in the development stage. These tools measure TBT(Total Blocking Time)
- Chrome DevTools
It is a set of web development tools built directly into the Google Chrome browser.
It is an open-source automated tool that helps to improve the quality of web pages by running audits from Chrome DevTools.
How to Improve Your Website’s Core Web Vitals
The core web vital reports give you the status of your website’s Core Web Vitals as poor, good, and needs improvement. You can use these reports and suggestions to improve various factors on your website. Some ways to improve the core web vitals for a better page experience is:
- Scale images on-page to the correct placement sizing so that the user browser knows how much space it takes exactly. You can use set sizes for other media content like video, GIFs, and infographics.
- Have reserved spaces for Ads so that they don’t affect content on-page.
- Compress large image files and optimize them and serve them in next-generation formats.
- Lazy load static content such as images. This ensures that images and other static content loads as you scroll down the page.
- Upgrade your hosting platform and Integrate a content delivery network to the hosting platform
- Remove any unnecessary render-blocking resources and large page elements that slow down your page.
- Make sure that you remove any third party scripts which are not very important and use a browser cache.
The Bottom Line
It has been found in various research that websites optimized for page experience factors like core web vitals, mobile usability, safety, no intrusive interstitial pop-ups, and HTTPS usage rank higher on the search result page. But, Google has made it clear that page experience is not going to override page content, its quality, and relevance. Pages with great overall information that matches the user search intent will rank higher. However, if more pages are having the same relevance, pages having a better page experience score will take precedence over others. Google aims to create a user-friendly ecosystem on the web and has asked websites to help them create it. For this, Google will be updating the Core Web Vitals annually. Their research has shown that by ensuring page experience factors especially the core web vitals are met, the number of users abandoning websites has decreased considerably. So, optimizing your website for page experience and core web vitals will benefit your website in the long term and increase your ROI.