A term that is often used when talking about online page experience is core web vitals. But what does it actually mean? Are they really vital to your business’s online presence, and how can you improve core web vitals? In this article, we explore what are Google core web vitals and how you can evaluate and fix them to improve your metrics.
Table of Contents
- What are core web vitals?
- Core web vitals metrics
- Why are CWV so ‘vital’?
- How to evaluate your core web vitals
- How to improve Google CWV
Core web vitals are a set of 3 metrics introduced by Google in May 2021. They score the performance of your website based on a user’s experience of your webpage. Core web vitals measure how quickly page content loads, how fast the browser responds to user input and the stability of the content of your page.
In short: Google core web vitals are aiming to improve the overall user experience.
Core web vitals are divided into the following 3 metrics:
- LCP – Largest Contentful Paint: how long it takes for the page content to load on your website.
- FID – First Input Delay: how quickly the browser responds when a user interacts with something on your webpage.
- CLS – Cumulative Layout Shift: how stable the content of your webpage is as it loads; a measure of the visual stability of the page.
LCP – largest contentful paint
This measures how long it takes for the main content of your website to load fully. Google scores this core web vital based on the time it takes for the largest text block or image to load on your site.
No one has the patience to wait around for a website to load. So you don’t want a very large image or video on your site that takes a long time to load.
FID – first input delay
When you load a webpage, you expect it to respond when you click on something, even as the page is still loading. It’s annoying when you have to wait until the page loads properly and only then you can interact with it.
FID scores your website based on how long it takes until the user can actually do something, for example:
- entering their login/ email information into a field
- selecting an option from the menu
- opening up a link from text, and
- clicking within the site navigation.
For this particular core web vital from Google, you want your webpage to be ready to interact with the user ASAP.
CLS – cumulative layout shift
CLS, the 3rd metric from Google, ranks you based on your layout stability. When a user visits your website, you don’t want elements on your page to move around as it loads. It’s frustrating when content shifts up or down and right or left.
This results in an inferior user experience and a high CLS score. You want everything on your page to be fairly stable and not shift around.
Now that you know what Google core web vitals are, you can begin to understand why they are so important.
A recent study by Digital.com discovered that 1 in 2 online shoppers expect a website to load in 3 seconds or less. Over 50% will actually abandon a website that takes more than 6 seconds to load.
If visitors to your website aren’t happy with their user experience, they will leave your website, despite your best marketing efforts. By improving the page experience, users will stay on your webpage for longer and engage more with your content, resulting in greater conversion rates. Google will give you a better page experience score and rank your site higher in search.
That’s why it is important to be aware of your core web vitals metrics and work on improving them.
There are several different tools on the market you can use to check your core web vitals, such as:
At Imperial Rank SEO we’ve found that using Google Search Console is the easiest way to address multiple issues on your site at the same time. This is because, with GSC, you can see the data on your whole site, not just on random pages. You can view a complete list of URLs and see at a glance which have issues, rather than having to analyze pages one-by-one.
Under ‘Experience’ on the left-hand side, GSC has a section called ‘Core Web Vitals’ where you can see the metrics of your site.
When you click through to it, it gives you a report of each core web vital where your website has issues. It also gives you examples of any pages on your website where this is occurring, so you can fix core web vitals problems.
PageSpeed Insights is another common tool we use to help measure core web vitals. It provides actionable recommendations you can use to improve your page speed score. PageSpeed Insights works by analyzing each individual page. To get an accurate picture of your core web vitals metrics, you have to input each page’s URL.
It is very easy to use, even for a beginner. Simply input your page’s URL and click ‘Analyze’.
We’ve discussed what are core web vitals, the different metrics they use to measure your website’s performance, why they’re so important and how to evaluate them. Next on the agenda is: how can you improve core web vitals?
Many different things could be affecting your score in each of the 3 areas: LCP, FID and CLS. I’m going to give you a few simple ways to fix core web vitals that address the most common issues.
PLEASE NOTE: Although there are a number of quick fixes you can do yourself, a lot of the problems that affect core web vitals need to be addressed by your developer and are beyond the scope of this article.
If you’re using WordPress, NitroPack is a great plugin that you can use on your own to increase page speed considerably.
This is often one of the main reasons for a slow-loading website and a high LCP score. You need to make sure all images you use on your website are compressed, resized, and converted to the right format. (There are plenty of online free tools and plugins that can easily do this for you.)
Never insert content above other content
Another way to improve core web vitals is to ensure you avoid inserting ads, pop-ups and other content above pre-existing content. The problem with doing this is that they can cause everything below to shift and consequently increase your CLS score. Instead, make sure that they have a reserved space on the webpage.
Only use essential and lightweight plugins
Now that we’ve unraveled Google core web vitals and you understand how important they are to providing a top user experience, it’s time for you to check out how well you are performing. Use the guidelines above to evaluate your core web vitals metrics and work on improving them.
One important caveat to be aware of: although Google places great emphasis on the core web vitals score, a great page experience score won’t automatically push you to the coveted #1 spot. Here’s what they say:
“In general, we [Google] prioritize pages with the best information overall even if some aspects of page experience are sub-par. A good page experience doesn’t override having great, relevant content.”
Quality content is still key and that’s why you need to work on your SEO in conjunction with your CWV. Have a chat with one of our friendly SEO experts to hear how we can help you improve your content.