What is Google Core Web Vitals?

 

We all know how annoying it can be to interact with slow and dysfunctional web pages. Yet, up until recently, Google has relied mainly on technical and on-page aspects to calculate page rank. No later than November last year, Google announced that page experience in the form of Google Core Web Vitals would be expanded as part of Google Search rankings and rolled out to all users by end of August 2021. 

With the changes in the algorithm, marketers are now adapting to the signals in Google Search Console that are available to study to increase Core Web Vitals scores.

The three underlying factors of the Core Web Vitals rollout from Defining the Core Web Vitals metrics thresholds by Bryan Mcquade, Senior Staff Software Engineer at Google

Why is Core Web Vitals important to be on top of?

 

The self-explanatory aspect from the introduction is of course that being on top of the signals will help you secure organic search exposure by taking into account the recent addition of factors from the Core Web Vitals update.

But these factors are not only impacting your page rank score and your organic reach. Getting on top of this also means that your website will work faster and that will increase conversion rates on the website. 

According to Cloudflare referencing load speed studies conducted, increasing the website speed has a significant and exponential effect on conversion rates and in effect online sales. Google is similarly referencing WPOstats with impact from the respective factors – LCP, FID, CLS.

What does Core Web Vitals take into account?

 

Google has identified three main parts that sum up core web vitals, which combined with the already existing signals will give the full-page experience result:

    1. Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
    2. Interactivity (FID)
    3. Visual Stability (CLS)

Google Core Web Vitals as part of the page experience from Google Developer Tools

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)

 

LCP is defined as how fast the content above-the-fold is ready to see. In other words, how well the content that users face first on their screen loads without scrolling.

The content that needs to load is typically images, background images, video poster images but also text blocks and paragraph tags. LCP is pretty easy to look at because all you need to do is look at your biggest building blocks and then optimise the size and trim individual pieces of content so the top of the page loads faster.

There’s a bit more to it of course. As content is located on a server, the hosting of the web page and website might be a cause for poor LCP scores and needs to be checked as well.

With the rise of CMS platforms like Shopify and WordPress and the need to add on features, usage of plugins for all kinds of purposes has risen significantly over the years. Using multiple plugins on your website can seriously interfere with your LCP score and as a result, it’s often needed to check up.  

The actual CSS development of your website, old CSS code, render-blocking CSS, and Javascript are also typical culprits.

 

What is a good LCP score?

Websites should strive to have the Largest Contentful Paint of 2.5 seconds or less.

Interactivity (FID)

 

Seeing is one thing but users also want to interact with your website. FID measures the time from when a user first interacts with a page (i.e. when they click a link, tap on a button, or use a custom, JavaScript-powered control) to the time when the browser is actually able to begin processing event handlers in response to that interaction.

Input delay typically occurs when the browser is busy doing other things, so it delays the response to the user causing a bad page experience.

 

What is a good FID score?

Websites should strive to have a First Input Delay of 100 milliseconds or less. To make sure you are hitting this target for most of your users, try hitting the 75th percentile of page loads, segmented across mobile and desktop devices.

Visual Stability (CLS) 

 

Seeing is one thing but users also want to interact with your website. FID measures the time from when a user first interacts with a page (i.e. when they click a link, tap on a button, or use a custom, JavaScript-powered control) to the time when the browser is actually able to begin processing event handlers in response to that interaction.

Input delay typically occurs when the browser is busy doing other things, so it delays the response to the user causing a bad page experience.

 

What is a good CLS score?

Websites should strive to have a CLS score of 0.1 or less. To make sure you are hitting this target, aim for the 75th percentile of page loads, segmented across mobile and desktop devices.

How can you use Google Search Console to identify problems with Core Web Vitals?

 

Here’s an image of Google Search Console and the recent add-on of Google Core Vitals. This is where it’s all happening.

As you can see in the image below, Google is making the size of errors and severity development visible to us. From here, we can dig into the specific errors one by one.

As you can see above, the error types we talked about earlier are visible, and clicking on them will reveal exactly what URLs need further examination.

What are the main tools to diagnose Core Web Vitals errors?

 

Naturally, Google Search Console is a pretty key tool for diagnosis, but other tools can also propel you in the right direction.

Page Speed Insights: PageSpeed Insights analyses web pages’ content and then generate suggestions to make that page faster.

Gtmetrix: This website also analyses load speed but breaks causes down much more granular.

Webpagetest: Similar to Gtmetrics. Great visualisations of load speed breakdowns. 

Hitting two birds with one stone

 

As Google is now moving SEO more into load speed territory, marketers have a golden opportunity to not only rank better on Google. By increasing page experience via load speed-related issues conversion rates will also increase and as a result, more leads and sales will happen on the website. 

I hope this article answered any questions you might have. Please leave a comment to us at the bottom of this article if you have any feedback or questions. 

Peter Crone Nielsen

Peter Crone

Digital Marketing Expert and Founder of Digital Excellence

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