What does the Google Core Vitals update mean for your website?

SEO Strategy Reading Time: 3 minutes

What are the core web vitals & why do they matter?

The core web vitals represent a number of new metrics that google will use to quantify the user experience of websites. These metrics will then be incorporated into googles ranking algorithm, meaning that these metrics will directly affect where your website appears in search engine result pages.

Google has hinted that scoring well in these metrics may result in visual indicators appearing within the search engine results page, meaning that these metrics could directly impact your brand credibility and in turn, the click through rate of your website.

Scoring good core web vital metrics will create websites with a better user experience, preventing user frustration, confusion and disengagement, in a bid to improve business growth.

What are the core web vital metrics?

Largest Contentful Paint – Loading

The Largest Contenful Paint or the LCP, is a metric that measures your website loading speed. More specifically the time it takes for your website to load the largest element on the page to fully render and appear for the user.

Further to this, it is measuring the elements that first appear at the top of the page, or above the fold. This means that the pages that the user typically sees first or lands on, must be fully optimised to load as quickly as possible, while other sites or images below the fold may be required to load at slower rates.

A good user experience, per google, is a LCP time no longer than 2.5 seconds. This benchmark is for desktop and mobile. While sites typically load slower on mobile, it is vital that your website is optimised for mobile use.

Cumulative Layout Shift – Visual Stability

The Cumulative Shift Layout or CLS, is a metric that measures the visual stability of your website. Visual stability relates to whether your website features elements that shift unexpectedly, without user interaction. Google wants to ensure that websites visual layout only changes when a user interacts, and expects a site to do so.

Google measures this metric as the percentage of the screen layout that is affected, multiplied by the percentage of screen distance that the shift has occurred. Large unexpected shifts or multiple small shifts can therefore quickly result in a poor CLS score. The benchmark CLS score Google wants website to achieve is 0.1

It is very important to note that this metric is measured in percentages and not in pixels. Therefore, mobile optimisation of websites is important as shifts that occur on smaller screens can drastically impact this metric. Shifts that seem small on desktop websites, can be significantly larger on mobile sites.

First Input Delay – Interactivity

The First Input Delay or the FID, is a metric that measures the time it takes between the first user interaction on your website and the time it takes for your website to visually respond to the interaction. This is the very first interaction that a user will have with your website, so very important for how the user will perceive your site throughout the user journey.

While it is predicted that this may be a less of a concern to website owners in comparison to LCP and CLS, FID can be heavily impacted on sites that rely heavily on plugins or overloaded scripts. The goal time google has set is 100ms between first interaction and the browser response. This means that this metric will require real user data monitoring as each users FID will be different.

How is this going to impact my business?

The core web vitals update will directly affect your business and website in terms of your users experience and perception of your business, through to how your websites developers will need layout and build your sites pages and content. The core web vitals update moves your website towards user centred metrics, to improve engagement and conversions.

Optimising your website for core web vitals will generate happier and loyal users, allow for product managers to predict greater feature success, and web developers producing work that is meaningful for your customers and users. These factors combined will generate greater bsuiness growth.

How will core web vitals develop?

Google emphasises that these metrics are the most appropriate metrics to measure user experience quality on a website in lab and field conditions, yet they recognise that they are no way perfect. Consistent monitoring of these metrics will therefore be required to keep your website performing well.

Google aims to keep developing and improving these metrics so expect core web vital updates at least annually after its initial update in August 2021.

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