Google has implemented Core Web Vitals and will have a second major update in May, 2021 related to them.
We at HowToHosting.guide, feel that we should spread more knowledge regarding the topic and give you significant insight on what these metrics are at their core and how you could update your website to improve them.
Google has warned ahead of time, that it will roll out the new Page Experience update related to the Core Web Vitals in May 2021. If you do not have all metrics in line, you will not rank up properly in Google.
Table of Contents [hide]
- What Are Core Web Vitals?
- Why Are Core Web Vitals Important?
- How to Improve the Metrics?
- Should You Worry About It?
What Are Core Web Vitals?
Core Web Vitals are metrics introduced by Google to address page experience related to ranking in Google search results.
These metrics correlate to how fast your website loads when first opened, how responsive it is afterward and how visually stable it seems.
The metrics are three in number and they are exactly the following:
- First Input Delay (FID)
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
These Core Web Vitals do not work in isolation, but instead work with other ones, such as Safe browsing, HTTPS and more that form the whole page experience index.
In the next few paragraphs, we will explain said Core Web Vitals in more detail; why they are important and what you can do to have positive scores on these metrics.
Here is an image from Google that gives pointers on what speeds you should aim for with each metric:
Since last year to the current 2021, Google has not changed much on the page experience update corresponding to the above metrics.
First Input Delay (FID)
First Input Delay, or FID for short, is the first from three Core Web Vitals. It calculates how much time it takes for a website to respond to the first meaningful click of a user, such as a button press or enlarging an image.
Knowing how to improve your Page Speed is important here, as the quicker the browser takes the input of said first user interaction, the better the impression will be left to that user.
Noticeable delays that occur are not good for your site. That is when the browser is working in the background and the action corresponding to the interaction of a user is not taken or completed fast enough.
FID takes into account actions such as taps, clicks, keypresses, excluding zooming and scrolling. Having a good score on FID, would mean that your website pages are responsive enough for things to work properly.
Google’s current metrics require an FID to be less than 100ms for a site to appear responsive. Anything above that threshold should be checked and dealt with, if possible.
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
Largest Contentful Paint, or otherwise known as LCP, is the second of the Core Web Vitals. LCP measures how long the largest content piece takes to load up in any website. By content we mean any media such as a picture or a paragraph of text.
Know that Largest Contentful Paint does not take in the time it takes for your page to load fully, but just the part that is deemed most important. Usually, the biggest chunk of information is considered to be with a priority.
To explain further with an example, if you have a page with just text and a large picture, the latter is considered to be the LCP. Since it has the largest size to be loaded in the application layer (browser), it is understood to be more interesting by default.
Largest Contentful Paint is taking the place of the now obsolete First Meaningful Content and similar to the First Contentful Paint metric. The newer one is easier to be assimilated, both by people and by browsers.
To summarize, LCP is the time it takes for the largest element to load. By getting it to load faster, your website is also faster. Thus, optimizing an element such as an image could be enough to get better LCP score.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
Cumulative Layout Shift or exactly abbreviated as CLS is the measurement of the visual stability of a website.
Simply asking, does content rearrange itself after loading or does it stay in the same space allocated to it? Is stuff loading on your website static content or things jump around, while loading?
To put it into a better perspective, the Cumulative Layout Shift aims to measure the time passed until everything on the loaded page stabilizes and is turned to useful content for the visitor.
What can be a hindrance for getting a good score on the CLS metric is the loading of additional content on top one another.
Examples could be advertisements or buttons that site owners want you to click on. Behind that content, there is other type of media still being loaded. Those could be made as clickbait – you want to click on something then something loads in its spot and you click on that instead.
Cumulative Layout Shifts are common with adverts. If poorly executed, it could lead to frustration among users. Some websites have it worse, by trying to jump up loaded content on top of one still loading on purpose.
Why Are Core Web Vitals Important?
Core Web Vitals are indeed important. One reason is what experience a user will have on your website. Another reason is that Google wants users to have good experiences.
The more good experiences a user has, the more that user will want to spend time on Google to search for those good experiences. Think of it as a system of mutual benefits.
Imagine you are at a restaurant and you order a meal. The meal arrives after hours of waiting and on top of that, the order is wrong. You would be more than annoyed. Let us look at that example with a reference to your website.
One of the worst scenarios that can happen to a user – he goes on to your website to order something. The user clicks, and not only your website is loading slow, but when it finally does, it messes up the result. A different page is opened for instance. That will be an alert, for a bad FID speed and also for a wrong response from your website.
Now, imagine that tons of users do the same action and are met with the same unsatisfying experiences. That does not meet the standards of Google’s Core Web Vitals.
Worst Case Scenario – Google Ranking Drop
To continue our example from above, what happens next is for Google to take action you get a rank drop. You are no longer in the first pages of Google, so people will be less likely to find your website.
You might also get your site unranked from Google. While getting it back up on the search results of Google is a pain, a bigger problem would be having minimum visitors. If you have a business, you will not be able to get paid with the help of your website.
In the end, you do not want to mislead potential clients, nor Google for that matter. And you must conform and meet the requirements of all three Core Web Vitals, if you want to get a rank boost after May, 2021.
How to Improve the Metrics?
The Core Web Vitals are metrics that can be tampered with and made better. A general misconception is that using the services of a faster web host will automatically fix related issues. That is not the case, albeit it could be helpful to get a better general speed.
How could you in fact improve these metrics? You will need a developer to find a hand code solution in most cases.
Tools and Advice That Can Help
Other ways involve tools that Google as a company has made available to the public to address the whole situation. Core Web Vitals can be measured by the following tools:
- Search Console
- PageSpeed Insights
- Chrome DevTools
- Chrome UX Report
- Web Vitals Extension
All of the above six tools can help with measuring the metrics of the Core Web Vitals. With them at your disposal you can further investigate what is wrong with the FID, LCP or CLS and try to fix it.
Should You Worry About It?
To bluntly answer the question – you should not worry. Should you try to improve and update your website? Absolutely, yes.
Core Web Vitals was first introduced in May 2020, without any apparent coordination or discussion with developers or publishers. Google developed this new page experience system and pushed it as an update, like they often do with other updates.
That created a compliance issue, which resulted to be a real burden for both publishers and SEO experts. As Core Web Vitals are related to the technical side and are more reliant to code than anything else, they are hard to be implemented in the way that Google desires.
Why You Should Not Worry Too Much
While SEOs and publishers are almost desperately trying to fix scores related to Google’s Core Web Vitals, CMS systems and related applications are not even considering touching the issue.
Others are paying developers to fix things within the Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) language out of their pockets, as their whole business relies on the productivity of their websites.
In the end, that is an issue that developers could tackle best. Core Web Vitals should have been:
- Implemented in a better way
- Discussed with impacted communities before release
- Made available as an easy code update to popular site platforms
- Not as forced like a new rule to be conformed to by everybody involved
With the related update to be released by Google in May 2021, there could be other changes and shifts. You should not worry much, but try to improve your website speeds and response times as best you can.
Core Web Vitals are metrics which you should work upon improving. All three of them could be detrimental to your website’s SEO rank and impact your user experience negatively.
While there is still no single solution and uncertainty on how future updates will impact different websites, you should do at least some kind of preparation steps for the future.