Google’s algorithms are paying a lot of attention to on-page experience. With the new set of ‘page experience’ signals, Google Core Web Vitals set to roll out in May 2021, this is what these new rankings mean for your website’s ranking success.
What are Google Core Web Vitals and why are they important for SEO?
Core Web Vitals consider a website’s loading speed measured by the Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), responsiveness measured by First Input Delay (FID), and visual stability with Cumulative Layout Reach (CLR). In other words, they determine what type of experience visitors get when they land on a page. Depending on whether your page is responsive enough, you could face dues in ranking and be replaced with a website that has a more optimised page experience.
As a website owner, you will want to keep the three metrics of Core Web Vitals in mind moving forward to not only secure a good ranking for your site but also ensuring that your business’s on-site experience is optimised for capturing new leads.
How to measure your Core Web Vitals?
The website’s Core Web Vitals metrics can be found on Google Search Console under the Core Web Vitals Report. The report shows the page performance based on real usage data and the quality of your URLs. For further troubleshooting diagnosis, you can hop onto Google PageSpeed Insights, which is linked to every report in Search Console.
Google also powers Chrome User Experience Report to make tracking of web experiences a breeze for website owners.
Loading: Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
Have you opened a website and feel put off when seeing a large white space at the top of the screen? While it is a common practice to place important information and call-to-action links at the top of the page, they are almost useless regardless of their relevance if the element takes more than six seconds to load. LCP essentially measures the page’s loading performance, which has a huge effect on bounce rate. To provide a good user experience, LCP should occur within 2.5 seconds of when the page first starts loading.
As webpages are displayed in stages, the LCP is determined when the final element of the page finishes loading. A slow LCP would be penalised with a lower ranking.
Then, what are your options to improve your site’s LCP score?
- Image server and format: By using a CDN server such as AWS or Cloudfare, the pressure of loading images from the same server can be lessened, resulting in faster loading time. Then, ensuring that the server converts images into WebP format (Google Recommended Image format) for more optimal results.
- Upgrade your web host: Better hosting for overall faster load times (including LCP).
- Set up lazy loading: Lazy loading makes it so images only load when the user scrolls down.
- Remove large page elements: Google PageSpeed Insights can tell you what elements on the page are slowing down and need to be removed.
- Minify CSS: Minification is a process where the non-critical and redundant resources are removed to speed up the process. To reduce the LCP delays, you should minify any bulky CSS.
Interactivity: First Input Delay (FID)
This metric measures the response time between the user’s first interaction with the page and the browser’s time of actual response for that interaction. Examples of interactions include:
- Selecting options from a menu
- Clicking on a link on the site
- Entering personal details into a field
FID is important because it reflects how real users interact with the website, essentially determining the success of capturing a lead or sale. The last thing you would want to do is to lose a customer at their crucial moment towards taking action. To provide a good user experience, pages should have an FID of 100 milliseconds or less.
With that, to improve the site’s FID scores, there are a couple of things you could do:
- Remove third-party scripts: Third-party scripts can negatively impact FID.
- Use a browser cache: This helps load content on your page faster.
Visual Stability: Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
CLS measures the amount of unexpected layout shift of visual page content.
A common problem with loading unoptimised websites is the shifting of elements. For example, when you are reading a paragraph and the text keeps moving down as new images load. This poor on-page experience would cause frustration for the reader who is trying to navigate and follow the texts.
For CLS, the golden level is to be as close to 0 as possible to avoid making the page intrusive and frustrating.
To minimise CLS:
- Use set size attribute dimensions for any media (video, images, GIFs, infographics etc.): This is so that the browser can determine the exact space to make in each page for the content that will be loaded up.
- Make sure ads elements have a reserved space: Minimising movements of elements.
- Add new UI elements below the fold: This is to avoid them pushing content to the bottom of the page.
With Google’s increasing focus on on-page experience, the rollout of the Core Web Vitals raises the importance of user experience in SEO.
It is time for businesses and website owners to get familiarised with these metrics to stay ahead of the competition. Please contact SEO Melbourne for further assistance on improving your website’s Core Web Vitals scores.