What Are Core Web Vitals?
On the 20th November 2021, Google officially announced new ranking factor additions set to roll out in May 2021: The Core Web Vitals. These Core Web Vitals, combined with the current search signals including mobile-friendliness, HTTPS security protocol, safe-browsing and intrusive interstitial, will allow Google to assess the overall ‘Page Experience’. This change is of utmost relevance for any webmaster and ecommerce business, as these elements will influence search rankings. For this reason, you will need to incorporate these factors into your SEO activities to maximize search rankings and keep your page at the top of SERPs.
The Three Core Web Vitals
Google divides the Core Web Vitals into three distinct elements we need to consider:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
This determines the loading performance, how fast the largest content elements of your pages fully appear for users after clicking the link. Google explains that to provide a good user experience, websites should have their LCP happening within the first 2.5 seconds after the click, qualifying this score as good. Web pages taking from 2.5 to 4 seconds to load fully will be granted a ‘needs improvement’ rating, while a ‘poor’ score will be given to every page requiring more than 4 seconds to display the content. Google allows you to test your web page LCP here.
- First Input Delay (FID)
This metric evaluates a page’s interactivity. FID assesses how long it takes for a page to become interactive, from the moment the user clicks to the time the interaction happens. It is a crucial user-centric factor as it quantifies the experience users feel when they interact with a page. Google recommends that websites should make the effort to have an FID that is less than 100 milliseconds. If you are wondering how your FID is doing against Google recommendations, you can use the following tools.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
Cumulative Layout Shift helps assess the visual stability of a web page. CLS measures the ‘sum of all individual layout shift scores for every unexpected layout shift that occurs during the entire lifespan of the page’. To provide a good user experience, ensure your site has a CLS score that is below 0.1.
Ecommerce and webmasters alike should consider this algorithm update with great attention as it introduces the Core Web Vitals as new ranking factors to assess the overall Page Experience. It is essential to conduct SEO performance reviews before the rollout to be in line with Google’s recommendations as a bad score will, undoubtedly, affect organic visibility, traffic and ultimately revenue.
When assessing scores, it is considered best practise to use what is known as field data rather than lab data. Why? Simply, because field data is information collected from actual users interacting with your website while lab data is based on a simulated page load performance.
Websites containing heavy elements such as graphics, videos must review their page content as a priority, as they are most likely to be affected by Google’s update. Google has released a set of tools for webmasters to start improving their page experience. For example, Google Search Console produces reports that provide an overview of Core Web Vitals performance. Similarly, other tools like Page Speed Insights or Lighthouse can help you conduct a deeper analysis once you have worked on your pages’ improvements.
We encourage everyone to start working on upgrading their page experience to ensure they are in a great position once the Google update becomes effective. The Team here at MediaVision are on hand to give you expert advice on what to do next so please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like help before the roll to ensure you are in a great position.