You may have seen the Core Web Vitals dashboard in your Google Search Console or heard rumblings of a Google ranking factor update coming this year, but what are Core Web Vitals and how do they impact your business? Core Web Vitals are Google’s way of quantifying user experience and will roll out as a ranking factor between mid-. As Core Web Vitals will impact website rank, brands need to understand and prioritize this SEO development, so that they continue to win in search results and are easily discovered by consumers online.
WHAT ARE CORE WEB VITALS?
Core Web Vitals refers to a set of metrics that Google is using to measure UX more accurately. These metrics relate to load time, interactivity of a page, and the visual stability of content as it loads. These scores are calculated on a page-by-page basis on both desktop and mobile; if websites perform well, site visibility can increase.
Google’s aim is to make sure that all the websites included in their index are offering the best experience for their searchers. By making Core Web Vitals a ranking factor, Google is leveraging search visibility to encourage website owners and developers to focus on UX. If a site and its competitor both rank for an important keyword-but one has better UX than the other-Google will reward that site with better position on their search results page for that keyword.
What does it mean to not pass the Core Web Vitals assessment?
If your site does not have a passing score on the different Core Web Vitals metrics, this can impact rankings and signifies that your website has poor user experience. Having strong UX is critical for ecommerce sites in particular; those that take a long time to load, have slow-acting CTA buttons, or page content that jumps around are problematic now and repercussions will increase with the Core Web Vitals rollout. Having a strong user experience, and, therefore, passing the Core Web Vitals assessment can help increase conversion rates.
What are the different Core Web Vitals metrics?
Largest Contentful Paint, or LCP, refers to loading speed. LCP measures how long it takes for all of the content above the fold on a page to load. LCP can be affected by slow server response times or client-side rendering.
For example, if you open a news article and the cover photo is the first thing you see on the screen, LCP measures how long it takes for that entire image to fully load on the page.
First Input Delay, or FID, refers to interactivity. FID measures how long it takes for your browser to begin executing an action once a user first tries to initiate an event, such as clicking on a button. FID can be affected by your browser trying to execute too many actions or load too many things at the same time, such as large JS files.
For example, if a user clicks on a button on your site to open a pop-up contact form, FID measures how long it takes for the browser to begin initiating that pop-up.
Cumulative Layout Shift, or CLS, refers to visual stability. It measures how often and by how much elements on a page unexpectedly move. CLS can be affected by images and videos of unspecified dimensions rendering, fonts that render larger or smaller than its fallback, or third-party widgets that resize themselves dynamically.
This can be especially frustrating for users on mobile because a user could be trying to click on a button and before they can click on it, the content on the page has shifted because of something large rendering higher up on the page and the button gets pushed farther down the page, maybe even off the screen. They then must scroll further down the page to find the button they were trying to click in the first place.