2021 has been an unprecedented year, picking up where 2020 left off. In truth, anyone with a little bit of foresight and willingness to listen to expert advice would have been ahead of the curve this year. At least, we got a preview of what to expect from 2021 in 2020.
Content creation and online marketing were not immune to changes too. These modifications in practice aimed to improve the experience for the end-users, and one of them is Google’s Core Web Vitals. It is one of the elements that determine the overall experience of a page. They are:
- Core Web Vitals
- Safe Browsing a measure of safety from malware, phishing,
- Non-Intrusive Interstitials Prevents obstruction of on-page materials.
- HTTPS – signifies a secure website connection
What are Core Web Vitals?
Core web vitals are essential conditions that Google uses to rate the overall experience for visitors to a webpage. They are a part of the metrics called Google Page Experience signals. In simpler terms, it is a tool to measure how Google rates your webpage based on user experience.
These ratings are a product of website characteristics such as how long web pages take to load or become stable, site security, and general user satisfaction. Core web vitals are only one more factor to consider for content creators to get a higher ranking on Google’s ranking factor. It places credence on the user experience, as opposed to the former system where all that mattered was the content of the website. Now, websites can gain edges over their competition to get ranked if they provide a better experience for users.
Google has ushered us into a new era where packing web content with keywords no longer cuts it. Now, it measures the dish the meal came in; not just the meal alone anymore.
Core web vitals, like everything else, are subject to change. However, the current set focus on three aspects.
Largest Contentful Paint (Loading) LCP is the time it takes to load a page on a website. There are other tools on the market that measure page speed such as Time to First Byte (TTFB) and First Contextual Paint. However, LCP measures the time it takes to see and interact with the webpage. It is recommended to measure LCP with Google Search Console (GSC). An optimal LCP value is 2.5 seconds or less.
1. Tips to Improve LCP
- Remove unnecessary links and third-party scripts.
- Splurge on the best web hosting
- Minify your codes
- Remove unnecessary large files and images
First Input Delay (Interactivity) FID is the time it takes for content on a page to become interactive. Hence, it measures how long it takes before visitors can click, choose or perform operations on your webpage. It is also kind of a speed measurement, but it measures a different parameter. Not all pages need favorable FID scores though, eg. a blog or article without external links or operations. However, the LCP is not as important as the FID because for a log-in page since users would not wait for the page to completely load before they start to type in their details anyway. A good measurement is 100 milliseconds (ms) or less.
2. Tips to Improve FID
- Remove unnecessary links and third-party scripts.
- Deploy a browser cache to help users load JS tasks faster
Cumulative Layout Shift (Visual stability) CLS measures the stability of a page while it loads its content. It is a measure of the amount of unexpected content shift as it loads. Users find this especially irritating, so it inevitably makes it into the Core Web Vitals list. A good CLS score is 0.1 or below.
3. Tips to Improve CLS
- Apply size attributes and dimensions for all media on your webpage. It makes it easier for the user’s browser to read the space to allocate to each item as it loads.
- Reserve special spaces for pop-ups and ads to avoid them to avoid unpleasant surprises to users.
- Keep new UI elements under the fold pushing content around the page.
Why are Core Web Vitals Important?
Google Core Web Vitals are the latest tools for ranking content provided in response to queries made through Google’s search engine. It is a new module in addition to the existing SEO requirements to improve the user’s experience on a website.
At the risk of stating the obvious, but Google already showed their hand judging by the name they gave to this new module. In the same breath, we should also point out that a great user experience is not all it takes to make it to the first page either. However, it will be a huge determinant (out of about 200) to how Google ranks the content on a webpage and how high it comes up on the results page.
Hence, a great UI does not replace good content. However, it can be a tie-breaker when two or more pages have similar content.
How to Leverage Core Web Vitals
This news from Google should spark website owners to improve their ranking on searches. These new updates will not move websites up on the rankings because of improved user experience though. Rather, it is an advantage when multiple sites have similar content. It looks like it will punish websites with poor user experiences then promote websites for being user-friendly.
To benefit from the new world, run tests on your website using Google Search Console (GSC) for every link. There are no exceptions under Google’s new parameters. The results will show you the problems and possible solutions. The solutions you need might be simple changes that you can make by yourself. However, you may also need the services of a professional web developer to update URLs and optimize them for speed and a better user experience.
The Core Web Vitals is subject to change and might be updated in the near future. In the future, page experience optimization is also about better user experience, not just meeting search engine criteria. One sure thing is that incorporating them will help you rank higher on Google searches.
Click here to learn more about page experience optimization.