Are you looking for a definitive guide to Core Web Vitals?
We get it, surfing through the internet trying to learn how to adapt to new Google Updates can be difficult. Very few places explain these updates well, and many of the ones that do, don’t make it easy to understand for the average viewer. We are here to break down everything you need to know about the Google update in as simple of terms as possible. By taking the advice in this article, you will improve the quality of your website, rankings, and traffic by optimizing your Core Web Vitals.
In this article, we are going to be going over the following topics on Google’s Core Web Vitals Update:
- What are Core Web Vitals?
- Why is Optimizing for Core Web Vitals Important?
- How to Test Core Web Vitals
- How to Optimize for Core Web Vitals
Let’s dive into it.
Why is Optimizing for Core Web Vitals Important?
As a disclaimer, Core Web Vitals won’t be the only factor when Google examines the page experience of your site and your rankings. There are a number of other factors that affect your Google rankings. With that being said, it will be a large portion.
This doesn’t mean that you will shoot to the top of Google just because your Core Web Vitals are intact. You still need to promote relevant, high-quality content. However it will definitely help and will give you a huge advantage over those who don’t.
As previously stated, Google plans to implement page experience as an official ranking factor. This means that not having your Core Web Vitals metrics on point could mean a significant drop in your Google rankings. This typically leads to less traffic, less leads, and less conversions and sales.
I’m sure you don’t want that, and that’s why optimizing your website for Core Web Vitals is so important.
What are Core Web Vitals?
In short, Google is updating it’s algorithm by making their Core Web Vitals a significant factor when they rank pages. Google’s Core Web Vitals are a set of specific factors that they measure to evaluate the users page experience of that site. The better the user experience (the more optimized your Core Web Vitals are), the better they will rank your page on their search engine.
Core Web Vitals are made up of 3 key metrics:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
- First Input Delay (FID)
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
The first factor in Core Web Vitals is known as Largest Contentful Paint, or LCP for short.
Essentially, LCP is measuring the loading speed of your page. When a user clicks on a link to one of your pages, the time it takes for that user to see the majority of the content on that page is the LCP for that page. Although LCP isn’t the only factor when assessing page speed, it is the most important. LCP focuses on what really matters for the user, which is why Google is making it a more important ranking factor in this 2021 Google update.
To put things simply, your main goal is to have every page on your site to have an LCP of 2.5 seconds or less. This means that users who click to any page on your site sees the majority of the page within 2.5 seconds of clicking on it.
First Input Delay (FID)
Next, we have First Input Delay (FID).
FID measures the time it takes for users to interact with your page. This can include clicking on a link, a button, or a user entering their information in a form.
In a way, it is a page speed metric, except it is the speed of someone actually doing something on your page. In other words, it measures how well your users can interact with your site. For pages where users have to do something, this is very important. Some examples include login pages, signup pages, landing pages, or any other page where the user is likely to click on something.
With the Google Update in 2021, you want your FID score is one that is 100 milliseconds or less. If your FID score is more than 100 ms, your site will likely start dropping in rankings and losing traffic.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
The last and final factor in the Core Web Vitals Assessment is Cumulative Layout Shift, or CLS. CLS is assessing the stability of the pages on your site as it loads.
Let’s say you navigate to a page after searching for something on Google. As you load onto the page, the different elements on the page scatter around and move as it loads. This would be considered a poor page experience for the user, and a poor CLS Score. You want your pages to be stable as users load them and navigate to your site. This avoids various problems for the user such as people clicking on something by mistake or re-learn where links are.
Ideally, you want your CLS score to be 0.1 or less.
How to Assess and Conduct a CWV Test to Your Site
To check your Core Web Vitals score, use the data in your Google Search Console. This way, you are able to see the data from your entire site instead of having to go through each page one-by-one. With Google Search Console, you can get a list of pages & URLs that are good, need improvement, and poor.
To view your data, all you have to do is do the following:
- Sign into your Google Search Console Account
- Click to “Core Web Vitals Report” in the Search Console
By checking your scores in each area, you can see where you’re currently at, identify areas to improve, and start implementing action to improve your score.
You don’t need to panic about your site suddenly plummeting out of nowhere due to poor page experience. Google has already said that you have until next year (2022) to improve your Core Web Vitals Score. We’re not saying to push it off like it isn’t a big deal, but you have some time to improve your score. We recommend being proactive about improving your score. That way, when Google starts implementing the update, your page will prosper and see major improvements in your rankings, traffic, and sales.
How to Optimize for Core Web Vitals
If you need to improve your LCP score, here are some things you can do to improve your load time:
- Upgrade your Web Hosting – the better your web hosting is, the faster your loading speed will be.
- Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) – a CDN caches files from your site to improve load speeds, as well as overall website performance.
- Set up Lazy Loading – this makes it so images only load when someone scrolls down your page. And this improves loading time.
- Optimize & Compress Images – you can compress, resize, and optimize your images for SEO with a tool like ImageOptim. If you need some help with creating or editing video, images, or other media—feel free to reach out to us at NuStream.
- Compress Text Files – you can compress your text files with the Gzip compression plugin.
If you want your FID score to improve, some initiatives to take includes:
- Remove any non-critical third-party scripts
- Use a Browser Cache – caching your site helps loading content on your page faster, which helps your FID.
To improve your CLS score, you can do the following actions:
- Include Width & Height Size Attributes for Images and Videos – this will allow the browser to know exactly how much space images and videos will take up, which will make loading the page a smooth transition.
- Make sure ad slot elements have a reserved space – If you plan on running ads on your pages, make sure you have a reserved space on your page to do so. You don’t want ads that appear on your site to push your content around. Instead, you want to set aside some space for ads to appear on your page.
Include new UI elements below the fold – similar to the above tip, you don’t want ads or any additional elements pushing your content around. By putting those elements below the fold, your content won’t be moved or shifted, which will result in a better page experience for the user.
Core Web Vitals is a major part of the major Google Update in 2021. There is no doubt that it will be a ranking factor in the years to come.
If you want to set your website up for success in the future, then optimizing your website for Core Web Vitals and other page experience is becoming a requirement.
You can optimize your site for Core Web Vitals, start implementing some of the above tips yourself. If you don’t want to do that and want experts to do it for you, contact NuStream today so we can help set you, your website, and your business up to reach your goals.