From connecting with local SEO services providers to scaling a website that aims to reach traffic all over the globe, it’s a big undertaking to rank well in search engines like Google.
While there’s a lot of work that goes into it, it’s also a necessity. Whether you’re a small, brick-and-mortar business or you’re an affiliate site where physical location has no relevance, if you’re not showing up in search engines, you’re not going to have the visibility you need to grow.
One element of ranking well in search engines is relatively new and is called Core Web Vitals.
Below, we talk more about what you should know about Core Web Vitals and their relevance to your site.
The Basics—What Are Core Web Vitals?
Core Web Vitals were announced by Google in May 2020. These became part of the Google ranking signals following the announcement.
Core Web Vitals measure and evaluate a site’s speed, responsiveness, and visual stability. They can be something you use to boost your rankings, but they can also hurt you if you don’t get them right.
These standardized metrics are a way for developers to understand how someone experiences a page.
These tools were created for developers but can also be used by any site owner since they’re giving a perspective of the actual experience of a page.
Core Web Vitals identify potential issues for users by looking at page loading performance, ease of interaction, and visual stability, as we mentioned above.
Each metric gives a perspective on how users are engaging with a site.
Site owners can find their data for their Core Web Vitals by going to their Google Search Console account.
If you’re already prioritizing load times for your pages and your user experience, then your Core Web Vitals should be good.
If not, you could be seeing the effects on your SEO.
Google has specifically stated that Core Web Vitals are an official ranking factor, along with their existing page experience signals.
Page experience includes things like safe browsing, HTTPS, and mobile friendliness.
There’s some evidence that Core Web Vitals might actually make up the largest portion of a page experience score.
Of course, page experience is one of hundreds of other factors used to rank sites, but it is an important one.
With that being said, a good page experience isn’t going to be able to help compensate for lackluster content.
Pages with the best information, according to Google, continue to be prioritized, even if they don’t have the best page experience.
Below, we’re breaking down the three Core Web Vitals.
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
There are three metrics within Core Web Vitals.
The first is Largest Contentful Paint or LCP. This is the point when your main content on a page has loaded. It’s the render time for the largest visible text block or image on that page.
If you have a big image or a background video that takes a long time to load, it’s going to negatively affect LCP. Also, if you have render-blocking JS or CSS, you’re probably going to need to make improvements to LCP to meet Google guidelines.
Your site needs to load quickly, as do each of the pages, to provide the best possible user experience.
Load time influences the user experience and your rankings. Fast load times also tend to improve engagement and conversion rates.
Nothing below the fold is considered for LCP. The metric looks at content sections rendered on the screen that are visible, including, as mentioned, images, block-level text, and video poster images. The goal is to have LCP within 2.5 seconds of when your pages start to load.
To improve LCP, you can remove unnecessary third-party scripts and upgrade your web host. You might also set up lazy loading. Lazy loading ensures images only load when someone is scrolling down on the page. Your Google PageSpeed insights should also tell you if your page has an element that’s slowing your LCP.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
Cumulative layout shift or CLS means that you need to make it as easy as possible for your visitors to engage with your buttons and links.
This metric identifies the buttons or links that shift once the page loads as a way to determine how difficult it will be for users when they’re trying to engage with elements on the page once it renders.
It’s going to create a frustrating and potentially negative experience for your users if the page elements shift while they’re reading.
To put it in even simpler terms, this metric looks at whether things like text and buttons are being pushed around.
Changing positions for elements is confusing and can represent a poor user experience.
To minimize your CLS, make sure your ad elements have a space that’s reserved. If not, they can then appear on the page and push content down.
You can add new elements below the fold, and you can use set size attribute dimensions for any media included on your pages, including videos and infographics. This will make sure that a browser knows how much space an element will take up on any given page.
First Input Delay (FID)
Your visitors want pages that are fast and easy to engage with, as we’ve mentioned throughout this guide.
First Input Delay measures the time it takes an element to respond after a user inputs something, again, to determine if there are points of frustration for your users.
Many sites use a lot of dynamic content widgets, which can improve content delivery but can also cause delay times.
Your FID should be below 100 milliseconds, ideally. This is a difficult metric to measure, and some of the things that affect the score are outside of your control, like the internet speed of users.