Google’s Core Web Vitals algorithm change is the latest in a series of changes that have been happening over the past few years. It impacts how Google measures your website and assigns it a score, determining where you rank in search engine results pages.
This can either be good or bad for your business, depending on what kind of changes are being made to your site and what type of content you’re publishing. And while your focus up until now may have been only on keyword optimisation and backlinks, you need to shift your focus on user experience on your website as a whole.
So, in this post, we’ll cover what this new algorithm means for businesses and how to stay ahead of the SEO game.
What Are Google’s Core Web Vitals?
Google knows that website visitors are more likely to be frustrated with slow loading times, affecting their brand perception. With the launch of Core Web Vitals, a set of new performance metrics for analysing speed signals essential to delivering a superior user experience on the web will now form part of Google’s “page experience score. In other words, Google has now made “page experience” an official ranking factor.
There are few factors that impact user experience on your website:
- Visual load or loading performance: how quickly does the page load?
- Responsiveness: how fast do the pages respond to your input?
- Visual stability: how stable is the page as it loads?
Based on these factors, Google introduced the three core web vitals:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
- First Input Delay (FID)
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
LCP is a website performance measurement that can be used to determine how quickly the main visual elements of your web page are loading.
For example, images and videos could be considered contentful paint on web pages because they take up more space than background images with smaller file sizes making their load times shorter. The LCP measure allows you to see what the load time is for your main visual elements and what percentage of these elements were loaded in the time it took for your browser or mobile device’s screen to refresh.
So, Google wants you to optimise your website’s visual elements for speed by adjusting your large page elements.
Your website needs to be improved to rank if your LCP is currently between 2.5 to 4 seconds or more. An optimal loading time is 2.5 seconds or faster.
First Input Delay (FID)
Interactive elements on websites are intended to make the experience smooth and seamless for visitors. But when these interactive features load slowly, it can frustrate people who visit your website – leading them to leave prematurely. And, with the rise of instant gratification, people want to know that their clicks are being responded to promptly.
While there is no hard and fast rule for what constitutes “timely”, FID measures how quickly interactive elements work on your website and what your user’s first impression was of your website’s responsiveness. If they don’t respond promptly (i.e. when someone clicks on something), you risk losing customers.
So, how your interactive elements respond is vital for an optimal user experience. Your website needs to be improved to rank if your response time is currently between 100 and 300 milliseconds or more. An optimal response time is below 100 milliseconds.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
CLS is a metric used to measure visual stability and establishes how often your website visitors experience unexpected layout shifts. For example, a visitor may be reading an article on your blog, and an image moves over the text as they scroll down the page to read more. This could be a sizing issue with the media elements or because not enough space was left for the elements to move with the text.
Cumulative layout shifts could also result in unexpectedly clicking on links, which can end up being quite annoying and impacting the user experience. The lower the CLS score (in other words, the fewer layout shifts), the better the user experience.
To improve your CLS score, you’ll need to optimise slow-loading visual elements and by including specific size attributes for each visual element. Your website needs to be improved to rank if your CLS score is currently between 0.1 and 0.25 or more. An optimal CLS score is below 0.1.
Do The New Web Vitals Operate in Isolation of Other User-Experience Factors?
It’s important to remember that Google is constantly introducing and implementing new SEO algorithm updates in an attempt to improve the user experience. An algorithm update will never operate in isolation of another. The purpose of these updates to enhance the overall experience – so, you need to be considering all the factors that will increase your site visitor’s experience, including:
- Safe browsing
- Intrusive Interstitials (i.e. pop-ups)
So, the Core Web Vitals form part of Google’s overall page experience ranking signals.
How Can You Check Your Core Web Vital Scores?
Now that you know what Google’s three Core Web Vital metrics are, you’ll need to establish whether your page is performing sufficiently or whether you need to start making some changes.
You can evaluate your page’s user experience using the following SEO tools:
- Google Search Console: this tool allows you to download a Core Web Vitals report, giving you an idea of how your page is performing.
- Google PageSpeed Insights: this tool gives you an overview of your page content and what needs to be changed.
Digesting all this information can be quite daunting, so you may need a web developer or SEO expert to address your issues and update your page based on the new Core Web Vitals algorithm.
Google’s Core Web Vitals algorithm update is the latest in a series of updates that have been released to help web admins keep their websites up-to-date.
The goal of this update was to make it easier for Google to know when sites are using outdated software or plugins, which could impact your ability to rank and generate leads from SEO.
If you haven’t updated your site yet, now may be the time!