Studies show that users prefer sites with a seamless page and user experience. Various criteria were established to rate the website's user experience as components for ranking results, such as safe browsing, HTTPS, no interstitial pop-ups, and mobile-friendliness.
As website owners strive to give better experiences to users and rank higher on search engines, Google recently added a new set of metrics to its search algorithm to help owners measure the quality of user experience on the web and create optimizations based on the results. This new set of metrics is called the Core Web Vitals.
Learning About The Core Web Vitals
You Can Also Read: 7 Reasons Why Responsive Web Design Is So Important?
Core Web Vitals is a subset of Web Vitals and are a part of Google’s search signals for page experience. It is the combination of three key performance metrics—visual loading performance, interactivity/responsiveness, and page/visual stability.
These metrics are crucial in helping your website rank higher on Google Search, optimize user experience, and determine your website's overall page performance score.
Types of Data for Core Web Vitals
1. Field Data - These are real user metrics and are generated from CrUx or Chrome User Experience Report. Field data is based on a rolling 28-day average. The changes on your site will only be fully reflected until or around the 28th day of implementation and execution.
2. Lab Data - These are generated by tools designed to run tests consistently under the same conditions. Real-world data are not necessarily reflected because of factors like internet speed and location.
Discussing The Metrics
Core Web Vitals
Largest Contentful Paint - Also known as LCP, this measures the amount of time it takes for the largest content element (text, image, video, transition, etc.) on the main page to load and appear on the website from the point of view of the user.
First Input Delay - Also known as FID, this measures the responsiveness and interactivity of your website. This translates and records the experience of each user when interacting with your website for the first time.
Cumulative Layout Shift - Also known as CLS, this measures the website's visual stability and calculates the number of unexpected layout shifts and disturbances during the user's interaction with a page.
Other Web Vitals
HTTPS - Also known as Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, it provides an extra layer of protection on the website's connection to preserve and protect the confidentiality and integrity of data between users, their computer, and the website.
Mobile-Friendliness - This ensures that your website is easy to use and navigate on mobile devices and that the content is readable with no broken links or malfunctioning buttons and other on-page elements.
No Intrusive Interstitial - This focuses on keeping the on-page content free from obstruction or annoying pop-ups to give users seamless navigation and hassle-free access to their desired content.
Safe Browsing - This ensures that your website is free from malware, phishing elements, risky extensions, or other sites that may bring potential harm to your website and its users.
Ways To Improve Your Website Based On Core Web Vitals
The first thing to do is to regularly check your LCP, FID, and CLS score using Google PageSpeed Insights. Through Google PageSpeed Insights, you can analyze the load time and render time of your entire site in just one click. It gives you detailed Opportunities and Diagnostics of whether your website passes Google’s guidelines. It also shows the elements that affect your page’s performance and what you can do to minimize or eradicate these elements to help your page load faster. Google's core values guidelines will rate your website's pages in three categories: Good, Needs Improvement, or Poor.
If the Google PageSpeed Insight is not giving you the granular information you need to fix and optimize your website, you can go to Chrome’s DevTools for a nitty-gritty set of details.
Every page of your site should hit an LCP score of 2.5 seconds, an FID score of 100 milliseconds or less, and a CLS score of 0.1 or less. Otherwise, results may show a Poor or Needs Improvement score.
This can be a challenge, however, especially if you have several high-resolution images. Hence, you need to optimize and compress your images accordingly.
In most websites, the largest elements are the images, which are also the most common cause of delay. That said, be sure to serve your images in the appropriate size and compress them properly to improve the loading speed of your website, its LCP, FID, and CLS results.
Here are more smart fixes you can try:
- Optimize and compress images, texts, videos, and block elements on your web pages.
- Always add specific width and height attributes to images and videos.
- Utilize a CDN or a content delivery network to ensure that your website’s load time is fast regardless of your web server’s distance to your user’s location.
- Upgrade your web host to a dedicated and faster server.
- Reduce the dimensions of background images.
- Minimize the use of background images. Or better yet, try replacing them with patterns as much as possible.
- Create static elements to reserve enough space for dynamic content (e.g., advertisements, promotional, etc.). Avoid inserting new content above the existing content.
- Since mobile devices are very susceptible to delays and layout shifts, make sure that all the content above the fold is based on simple elements. Remove large images above the fold to improve your site's performance, making it more mobile-friendly.
- Implement lazy loading or preloading responsive images on your site, so images and other elements can load immediately as the users scroll through the page, thus, speeding up visual load times.
- Break up long tasks and use a web worker.
- Remove any installed yet unused or outdated scripts or plug-ins.
- Minify CSS and JS to remove all unnecessary characters from source code, which leads to smaller file sizes and faster load times.
- In-line CSS and JS for above-the-fold content, including the website’s font, viewport settings, background color, and H1 style, among others.
- Optimize critical CSS and JS and remove or defer non-critical CSS and JS to speed up the load times of your web page. Use async attribute for scripts needed earlier and defer for those needed later.
- Enable server push to improve FCP, LCP, and speed index.
- Use a browser cache for a faster load time of the main content of the page.
Following these usability standards can help you get ahead of competitors. It helps your website drive more traffic and conversions through exceptional page experience for each user and allows your website to rank higher in Google Search with passing scores on Google PageSpeed Insights.
You can see a summarized view of your website’s Core Web Vitals in Google Search Console and page-level metrics in PageSpeed Insights.
Core Web Vitals are the biggest contributing factor to your page experience score.
- Visual Loading Performance [Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)]
- Page Interactivity/Responsiveness [First Input Delay (FID)]
- Page/Visual Stability [Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)]
- LCP: 2.5 seconds or less
- FID: 100 milliseconds or less
- CLS: 0.1 or less
These Core Web Vitals are assessed at the 75th percentile of the users and are measured by device type (mobile and desktop). It will allow you to see and track how well your pages perform based on field data or real-world usage data and lab data and help you fix poor user experiences on your site.
Always remember that quality content still comes first, according to Google's Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller. He also added that page experience becomes more important when there are multiple similar results. So on top of making your website user-friendly, adding high-quality content is still the number one factor that drives long-term success, more conversions, customer loyalty, and lasting relationships with users.
If you don’t have enough technical knowledge to effectively and successfully implement these Core Web Vitals and optimization steps, make sure to partner with the right developers and webmasters.
I am Louise Savoie Digital Marketer at Proweaver, a web development company specializing in Custom Website Design which helps sole proprietors and small companies increase their sales and grow their business. I am responsible in Content Marketing and Social Media Marketing. You can find us on Facebook: @webdesignproweaver and on Twitter and Instagram: @proweaver.