It’s every digital marketer, web developer and online business owner’s goal to seek better and better organic search engine rankings, and of course part of that process is to try and work out – and stay on top of – the latest algorithmic changes Google implements as they refine their ranking systems.
Google is constantly tinkering, however, and last year they announced that they’d be releasing a series of ‘Core Web Vitals’ in 2021, with a focus on improvements to give website visitors a more friendly, secure and slick page experience.
The three Core Web Vitals include:
LCP (Largest Contentful Paint)
LCP measures how fast your webpage is loading, with an optimal loading time (time from the moment a page starts loading to the moment it is fully loaded) ideally faster than 2.5 seconds.
FID (First Input Delay)
FID measures the interactivity of your webpage (the time it takes for the website to respond to such users’ actions as clicking a link, tapping a button, etc.). Ideally, your website’s FID should be faster than 100 milliseconds. Anything between 100 and 300 milliseconds is considered mediocre, and longer than 300 milliseconds is poor.
CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift)
CLS measures the visual stability of your website (how often visible elements on the website change their positions, forcing the user to search for the lost place in the text or the button they were trying to tap). To rank high, your CLS should be less than 0.1. Anything between 0.1 and 0.25 is considered mediocre, and higher than 0.25 is poor.
What does this mean for you?
Simply put, you’ll now need to work harder to ensure your website:
- Has an optimal load time
- Is optimally responsive
- Has as stable a page layout as possible
Core Web Vitals started rolling out officially in June 2021, meaning that it’s important for you and your digital team to be on top of these changes.
How do you measure Core Web Vitals?
It’s actually simple enough, and there are a number of tools (both free and premium) that you can use to scan and measure your website.
The easiest single-source online platform to measure the range of Core Web Vitals is Google’s Search Console, which now has a ‘Core Web Vitals Report’ integrated.
Other tools you can use include:
- PageSpeed Insights – to measure load times
- Page Inspect (Chrome Extension) – select the Lighthouse function to evaluate Core Web Vitals
- SEM Rush – a freemium product evaluation suite offering a range of really excellent analytical and reporting tools
It’s important to conduct regular tests and checks – here are some additional tips for improving your Core Web Vitals:
- Reduce image sizes so they can load faster
- Use next-gen image formats. This is often based on the hosting service you use.
- Create a specific order of what loads in the “viewable area” so that all of the code does not need to load before showing the top of the page.
- Remove third-party services that require extra time to load, for example: social media feeds, heat mapping software, third-party fonts, etc.
- Load thumbnail previews of videos instead of full videos
- Implement localized website caching so that the pages load much faster from a server that’s close to wherever the visitor is coming from.
The Core Web Vitals update implementation was completed in August 2021, so we’re at the stage now where you can’t afford to ignore it! It may seem like a lot, but actually making the necessary updates, changes and improvements is fairly standard, and will significantly improve the quality scores on your website.
In short, it’s really worth paying attention to!