A Beginner’s Guide to Google’s Core Web Vitals
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After a year-long announcement that it was coming, Google’s Core Web Vitals update is here. Every website will be affected, and for businesses, it will be crucial to act. That’s because it will impact Google search rankings and website traffic.
Ready businesses will be positioned for online growth. And those who aren’t will be left in the dust.
Are you just hearing about this? Have you heard about the update but aren’t quite sure what it means for your business? Here’s our beginner’s guide to Google’s Core Web Vitals.
What Are Core Web Vitals?
Google will now be incorporating three website signals (called Core Web Vitals) into its search ranking algorithm. The purpose is to add additional consideration for websites that offer a great user experience. The better your business website’s user experience and page experience are, the better standing it can have in Google’s search rankings.
Google will measure how fast (or slow) your website loads, how long it takes to complete actions (when someone clicks on a button, for example), and whether there is content that is moving around a page and creating a jarring experience.
Signal 1: Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
Slow websites are the bane of the internet. You click, you wait, you get frustrated, and you leave in search of another website that’s faster. As a user, it’s highly annoying.
Google’s Largest Contentful Paint signal measures how fast the main content on a webpage loads and is ready for users to interact with it. That may be a large image, a background image, or a text element, for example. The idea is that a user should be able to interact with the webpage’s main content quickly, rather than waiting for elements to load.
Signal 2: First Input Delay (FID)
The First Input Delay signal addresses another frustrating user experience – clicking action on a webpage and waiting for it to do something. For example, clicking a button that’s supposed to take you to a form to fill out, but it’s taking forever to get you there. Google wants your website to quickly respond to user interaction, such as clicking a button or a link.
Signal 3: Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
We’ve all visited a website where we’re trying to read information or perform an action, and content starts annoyingly moving around on its own. It’s called a layout shift, and it drives users insane. The Cumulative Layout Shift measures just how much of your content is shifting without user input.
When Is the Google Update Happening?
Google began rolling out its Core Web Vitals update in June 2021 and will complete it by August 2021.
Why Should I Care?
Any time Google makes an update to its search algorithm, it’s essential to take note because it could have an impact on your business. This update, in particular, is a big one. Google has been planning this for over a year, and the change will impact every website.
If your website is not optimized for Core Web Vitals, your search rankings could drop. As a result, you could lose search visibility and experience a decrease in website traffic. That ultimately could cause you to lose out on leads and new customers or clients, impacting your bottom line.
It’s also an important update because it focuses on the human behavior aspect of website use. When we visit a website, we want it to run smoothly and provide us with the information we’re seeking and the experience we expect. Business websites that focus on delivering a great user experience will naturally be positioned better in the marketplace than those that don’t make this a priority.
How Do I Check My Website’s Core Web Vitals?
The easiest way is via Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. Simply enter your website URL, hit the Analyze button, and wait for the results to appear.
Then look for how your site scored for the three signals: Largest Contentful Paint, First Input Delay, and Cumulative Layout Shift. Here are the benchmarks to aim for:
- Largest Contentful Paint – 2.5 seconds or less
- First Input Delay – 100 milliseconds or less
- Cumulative Layout Shift – score of 0.1 or less
You may also notice there’s an additional signal for First Contentful Paint (FCP). It’s a measure of how fast initial content loads on a webpage. A score of 1.8 seconds or less is optimal.
You can also use this method to check out how your competition is doing when it comes to Core Web Vitals. They may be scoring low, opening up an opportunity for your business to get an edge.
If you’d like to learn more about how Google measures these signals, check out their Core Web Vitals FAQ.
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What Do I Do if My Website Fails?
First, you’re not alone. Many businesses are not prepared for this update either because they honestly didn’t know about it or simply haven’t had time to deal with it.
So, where can you turn? Website developers and marketing agencies with solid knowledge of Google’s Core Web Vitals are the best options for optimizing your website. So, reach out to them first.
It’s important to note that a website designer (such as a freelancer you may have hired long ago) may not be the best choice for help with Core Web Vitals. They may not necessarily be experts in web development.
I Have More Questions. Where Can I Find Answers?
We’ll refer you again to Google’s Core Web Vitals FAQ for answers to other questions not covered here. The topic can run deep, especially for website developers, and Google’s FAQ can help answer some of the most pressing questions. Also, much has been written on the topic of late, and you’ll find plenty of articles online that dive deeper into Core Web Vitals.
Ready or not, Google’s Core Web Vitals are here, and it’ll be critical for businesses to optimize their websites for this significant update. It’s not only a smart business move, but it’ll improve user experience–a strategy that’s a win-win for both you and your customers.