Some time back, Google created quite a buzz by announcing its new ranking factor for May 2021: Page experience. User experience has consistently been a fundamental part of developing the best site out there. However, now, it has an even bigger role to play in assisting you with building magnificent websites for your clients.
And all this is fueled by none other than the Core Web Vitals. Well, say hello to LCP, FID, and CLS- Your New Best Friends!
Core Web Vitals have certainly become a hot subject in the SEO community right now. And why not? After all, improving them leads to a better user experience, and besides, as of May 2021, they will end up being a ranking factor for Google Search on mobile.
This change will probably be rolled out across the globe, all at once. How? Let’s find out!
What are Core Web Vitals?
The web vitals are factors that Google recognizes as crucial for the website's overall user experience. In simple words, Google's way of scoring a website for UX. Core web vitals report provides information on three main factors related to users' experience on a website. The factors are speed, responsiveness, and visual stability.
In technical terms, the core web vitals report is based on LCP (Largest Contentful Paint), FID (First Input Delay), and CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift). Let's see what these metrics are in more detail.
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
It measures loading performance. LCP is how long does it take a page to load from the perspective of an actual user or how long it takes to load the largest chunk of content to appear on the user screen. This can be an image or a block of text.
LCP should occur within 2.5 seconds of when the page first starts loading to provide a good user experience. A good grade in this metrics, lets users feel that the site loads fast, while a slow site often leads to frustration.
LCP is mainly affected by:
- Slow server response times
- Resource load times
- Client-side rendering
Tips for improving LCP
- Remove any unnecessarily third-party scripts.
- Upgrade your web host.
- Set up lazy loading.
- Remove large page elements.
First Input Delay (FID)
This measures interactivity. FID is what amount of time it requires for the site to respond to the first interaction. This can perhaps be a tap on a button, for instance.
To provide a pleasant user experience, pages should have an FID under 100 milliseconds. A good grade here gives the user a feeling that the site is prompt to react to input and, hence, responsive. Slow, again, leads to disappointment.
Tips for improving FID
- Remove any non-critical third-party scripts
- Use a browser cache
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
This measures visual stability. Do things move around on the screen while it is loading — and how frequently does that happen? There's nothing more annoying than trying to click a button when a slow-loading ad shows up on the screen.
To provide a satisfying user experience, pages should perhaps try to keep their CLS under 0.1.
Tips for improving CLS
- Use set size attribute dimensions for any media (video, images, GIFs, infographics, etc.)
- Make sure ads elements have a reserved space
- Add new UI elements below the fold
Is it going to affect Rankings?
Yes, Google Search Central has clearly stated that in their tweet. Last year in November 2020, Google Search Central tweeted about core web vitals becoming a ranking parameter.
All things considered, it's undoubtedly going to affect all regular search results, mobile, and desktop. Moreover, Core Web Vitals will become criteria to show up in Google Top Stories soon. Top stories are the news results that generally show up at the top of search results.
Earlier, AMP was a necessity to appear in those Top Stories. However, AMP is going away. Although you still have to meet the prerequisites for regular Google News inclusion, AMP is no longer going to be a requirement to appear in the Top Stories.
In any case, you will have to meet a minimum threshold of Core Web Vitals. So this might actually affect a lot of ranking results. Besides, Core Web Vitals and SEO indeed go hand-in-hand, and we can't really afford to ignore even a single ranking factor if we want to stay ahead in the competition and keep our rankings.
We don't know how much of an impact core web vitals will have on our ranking? However, what we do know is Google is paying much more attention to the on-page experience. So, that's exactly what we need to work on.
How to Check Core Web Vitals Report?
There are multiple ways to check a website’s core web vitals; however, we will talk about only two of them.
Using Search Console
Search Console’s core web vitals report in the enhancement section is dedicated to this purpose. It identifies all the poorly performing pages, needs improvement, and good URLs on both mobile and desktop devices.
This core web vitals report is based on real-world data from the Chrome UX report. It includes three main metrics that are LCD, FID, and CLS.
Using PageSpeed Insights
PageSpeed Insight (PSI) is similar to the search console’s core web vitals report. It provides real-world data on user’s experiences. The plus point in this tool is that it offers recommendations for improving the website for a better user experience.
Search Console’s core web vitals are marked with blue ribbons in this report for easy understanding.
You need to improve Core Web Vitals, so your users have a more enjoyable experience. Although it is still unclear what impact they'll have on SEO ranking, they would perhaps help you record more data in your analytics which indeed "suggests" an expansion.
Work tightly with your developers; they are the specialists here. Page speed can be incredibly complex. So fasten your seat belts.
Since you have less than a month only, you can't really do much about it. However, the least you can do is analyze how your site performs and see if you can get your site up to speed to an acceptable level. Good-luck!
Editor: Richa Sharma