As we know by now, Google loves to keep us on our toes in terms of the requirements for success with its ranking algorithm. One of the latest changes involves Core Web Vitals, a new set of metrics that is one way to incorporate UX signals into the algorithm.
The goal for Google is the promotion of sites and landing pages that create a better page experience for its users. But what are these new metrics? How do you or your chosen supplier for CRO services track the performance of your website against them? We explain this and how these metrics can be helpful in your continual quest to improve UX; read on.
What are Core Web Vitals and why are they important?
Incorporating UX signals is not a new idea in the Google algorithm, as page speed, disruptive interstitials, and mobile usability have been factored into ranking requirements for quite some time. If your website isn’t optimized correctly for various devices or is too slow, the chances of ranking highly for your target keywords are lower.
These, alongside other page experience metrics like backlinks, relevant keywords, domain authority, and others, are important areas of focus from an SEO and page optimization perspective.
Google considers Core Web Vitals to be the areas that are important to the user’s website experience. They each represent a distinct facet of UX in a measurable field that reflects the real-world experience of a critical user-centric outcome. Once this is mastered, you just need to focus on increasing those click-through rates for success!
Breaking down the metrics
The Core Web Vitals metrics are designed to measure various on-page factors that may affect user experience. Google will rate pages under three rankings:
- Needs improvement
The metrics, which address some prevalent UX annoyances, are as follows:
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
Overloaded sites take time to load all of the page content. It’s often a strong argument for landing page vs the website. This can be a frustrating user experience, and LCP looks to address this.
This metric measures the time it takes to completely load the largest piece of content on the page. This could be text or high-resolution images when working towards customizing your perfect booking website. Whatever causes the problem, just a couple of seconds wait from clicking a link to the page fully loading can deter users.
LCP determines that content must load within 2.5 seconds for a site to be rated with a ‘good’ score.
First Input Delay (FID)
??FID measures the time it takes before a user can interact with a web page. Similar to the first metric, this could include content that is not yet loaded, being pushed down the page while loading making it inaccessible and creating a frustrating experience.
Users essentially expect instantaneous interaction with web pages, and a ‘good’ classification from Google in this area requires a delay before an interaction to be less than 100ms. You may need to consider which site plugins you are using to help with this.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
CLS measures the visual stability of your page. For example, if some aspects on a page are unstable while loading, this can cause mistaken clicks, which causes a bad user experience.
This is most commonly an issue with ads that load and push other elements down the page. Cookie notices can be another culprit, blocking or pushing important elements from being accessed. The measurement of this metric can be hard as it is not speed-based. Google gives the ‘good’ certification to a CLS score of less than 0.1.
Tracking performance against Core Web Vitals
Whether you are setting up a full site, landing page, or creating a webinar, there are several ways to track your performance against these Core Web Vitals. Search Console explains which of your pages have the good, poor, or need improvement ratings, so this is the best place to start.
You can also view these URLs in other tools like Page Speed Insights.
Google presents the scores for each metric and suggests areas for improvement. You can then request Google to validate your fixes after rectifying any issues via Search Console. This will prompt Google to take another look at the page, scan it, and give it a new (hopefully improved) rating.
Using Core Web Vitals to your advantage
The fundamentals behind these new metrics are a good thing. While Google creating more ways to assess UX with measurable metrics may seem somewhat annoying, these changes are forcing sites to improve performance.
While this only touches on very specific areas of UX, Core Web Vitals can rank sites with a better UX higher than those with low scores. This irons out performance issues and poor page speed, meaning the top ranking sites should be very easy to use.
Regardless, love them or hate them, these measures exist and will have an effect on search performance. So keep in front by improving your UX in these specific areas to enjoy a competitive ranking in search engine results. As always, PPC Hero has other articles to help you improve your SEO, site usability, and more.