Millions of businesses are scrambling to be on the right side of the core web vitals update before it arrives. The initial timeline for the update suggested that it would roll out in May 2021. However, Google recently announced that it had delayed the rollout till mid-June of 2021. This is good news for webmasters as it gives them time to make the necessary changes to websites.
But what is the core web vitals update? Why is Google rolling out this update? And what is the big deal about Core Web Vitals when it comes to business visibility? We’ll be answering all of these questions in this blog. But first, let’s take a look at how we got to the core web vitals update and the motivation behind it.
The Road to Core Web Vitals
The Core Web Vitals update is an addition to the series of updates geared towards improving user experience. The ultimate goal of each update is to enhance users’ browsing and search experience as much as possible. As such, the first update to get the ball rolling was the Mobile Friendliness update. Google rolled out this update in April 2015, and it assessed how compatible a website was with mobile devices.
The next update Google launched was the Google Speed Update in July 2018. This update focused on the speed with which web pages loaded, especially on mobile devices. Both of these updates now appear as reports on Google Search Console. The combined effects of these updates were mobile-first websites that prioritized user experience on mobile before any other device.
Now core web vitals is the next addition to the series of updates that ensure optimal mobile user experience. So let’s dive into what these core web vitals are and how they help Google measure user experience.
What are Core Web Vitals?
Core Web Vitals are factors that Google uses to gauge the user experience of a website. The particular update that Google will launch in June 2021 will introduce three elements:
- Loading – This factor refers to the time it takes for a web page to load, from clicking the link to seeing the complete layout. The metric for this factor is Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) which measures the total time it takes for the largest content element to load once the user opens the web page.
- Interactivity – This factor refers to how quickly the website interacts with the user. An “interaction” with the user refers to the completion of a given action. The metric for this factor is First Input Delay (FID) which measures the time it takes for the website to perform a particular interaction. Interactions in the context of user-website consist of:
- Clicking on menu tabs
- Submitting contact forms
- Entering emails
- Clicking buttons
- Visual Stability – This factor refers to the stability of the web page during loading. The metric for this factor is Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) which measures the shift in visual elements of the website as the page loads or when a request initiates. The more fluctuations website elements show during loading, the lower the CLS score will be. This is because layout shifts may cause users to click on the wrong links accidentally. However, it is essential to note that CLS only measures layout shifts beyond 500 ms of users clicking the link.
The three new factors – loading, interactivity, and visual stability – are an addition to existing factors that measure page experience. The current factors that Google uses are:
- Safe Browsing
- No Intrusive Interstitials
Why is Google Introducing Core Web Vitals?
So what is the need to introduce more factors to measure page experience when some already exist? And why is Google obsessed with measuring page experience, to begin with?
The answer is quite simple – it’s good business. Research has shown that users are more likely to convert on pages that offer a stellar user experience. As such, ranking websites that provide the best experience is in the interest of Google and its users. This also incentivizes businesses to optimize their website according to the metrics Google deems necessary.
Core web vitals (and other metrics like them) provide businesses with further guidelines on how to give the best page experience. At the same time, these metrics help Google ensure that users end up visiting only the best websites. As a result, users remain satisfied with their browsing experience and continue to trust Google as the best search engine in the world.
Why are Core Web Vitals Important for Businesses?
We’ve already briefly discussed why core web vitals are essential for businesses. They help ensure companies provide the best possible experience to users. But on a deeper level, core web vitals help websites improve their ranking through Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Not only is it evident that core web vitals will be a significant ranking factor, but it also shows how search engine rankings are inherently changing. Search engines like Google want to motivate businesses to churn out content with the end-user experience in mind. However, it’s important to note here that having great core web vitals does not guarantee a higher rank.
That’s because Google still wants to keep content at the core of SEO. So while a good score on core web vitals is essential, excellent and relevant content is still the cornerstone for higher rankings.
How to Improve Core Web Vitals?
So how do you improve your core web vitals? The trick is to understand each of the metrics (CLS, FID, and LCP) and devise a strategy to optimize each one. For instance, Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) requires that the website layout remain consistent during loading and interaction times. One way to keep elements where they are is to add UI elements below the fold.
So let’s take a look at some of the steps you can take to optimize each of the CVW metrics.
Here are some of the best ways to improve LCP scores.
1. How to Improve LCP Score
Adopt “Lazy Loading”
Remember that LCP or Largest Contentful Paint is the time it takes for the largest content element to load. To optimize that, you can activate the “lazy loading” feature that loads images right when the user scrolls down the page to see them. This improves the overall speed of the website while improving the LCP score as well.
Reduce Page Size by Compressing Images
Images are often the largest elements on the page. That’s why bulky images reduce LCP scores. You can reduce image sizes by using sites like tinypng. You should always use jpg format for landscape images and png for graphics.
If you don’t want to reduce image sizes, you can use Content Delivery Networks (CDNs). CDNs are server networks that store and serve content you save on them. This reduces the load time of the website as well.
Remove 3rd Party Scripts.
If you conduct a critical analysis of your website, you’ll find some non-crucial third-party scripts. These scripts can reduce the page speed by as much as 34 ms. So you should remove unnecessary 3rd party scripts for faster loading times.
Get Better Web Host
A better web host serves information faster which means lesser time to load the content on the page. If your LCP scores are lagging, try upgrading your web host to improve load times.
Ensure Faster Server Response Time
Another way to improve the LCP score is by reducing the browser’s time to retrieve content from the server. CDNs and better web hosts can improve server response times. You can also use the time to first byte (TTFB) to measure how long it takes for the user to receive the first byte of the page’s content.
Identify & Remove Large Page Elements
Not all page elements are essential. While some might add a bit of flashiness to the design, they may be slowing down LCP. So it’s better to identify and remove significant page elements.
2. How to Improve FID Score
Here are some of the best ways to improve FID scores.
Use Browser Cache
Developers can use browser cache to help load content faster. This will improve FID scores as it will take less time for the link clicks to retrieve information. In addition, browser cache helps the user’s browser blast through JS loading tasks faster.
Use Caching Plugin
Plugins like WP Rocket help optimize file delivery which reduces the time to new link opening. This, in turn, improves the FID score because files that need to load on the next page are already cached.
3. How to Improve CLS Score
Here are some of the best ways to improve CLS scores.
Define Dimensions in CSS Files
Elements such as image embed and GiFs that do not have embeds in CSS files reduce CLS scores. That’s why defining dimensions such as height and width in CSS files helps allocate the suitable space for images, improving CLS scores.
Reserve Space for Ad Elements
One of the things that result in layout shift is undefined space for ad elements. Reserving space for ads beforehand and ensuring they don’t suddenly pop up on the page helps improve CLS score.
Add UI Element Below the Fold
Adding a UI element below the fold keeps crucial aspects of the page anchored in their place. As a result, these elements do not shift while the page is loading, improving the CLS score. UI elements are usually used for elements that the user does not expect to move in the layout, such as banners.
Let Accurate Digital Solutions Improve Your Core Web Vitals
The biggest obstacle in improving core web vitals is the range of technical expertise required. This update ensures that only the websites with the best technical SEO, quality content, and page experience get ranked higher.
Yet, it can take years to develop the knowledge base and skill set required to build a perfectly optimized website in line with Core Web Vitals. However, the update is due soon, and business owners need immediate results.
That’s where Accurate Digital Solutions comes in.
We offer comprehensive website design and development services that ensure your website is optimized according to CWV. You can even get a whole new website for your business that is completely set up according to core web vitals. Or, if you have an existing website, our technical SEO and UX/UX development team can help perfect it for Core web vitals.
So let Accurate Digital Solutions take care of improving CVW scores for your website. Contact us now and get your new website before the Google update rolls out next month.