So, you’ve got your business online, and you’re ready to start building your profile and getting your website out there in the eyes of your target audience. You’ve heard of SEO and are currently working on a strategy to ensure that Google finds your site whenever your industry or specialist subject is mentioned.
But of course, in typical Google fashion, things are constantly changing and the focus on user experience is always shifting to accommodate new ideologies and preferences.
Google Core Web Vitals first came to fruition in 2020, and over the past year has made its mark in quantifying the user experience through a set of three new ranking tools which join the generic user areas already being ranked by Google (which include mobile usability, safety while browsing, and HTTPS).
In this article, I’ll be introducing you to the three new subsections of Google’s Core Web Vitals and letting you in on a few things that you can start doing now to ensure that your website is up to Google’s high standards.
Introducing the Core Web Vitals
Google has long been interested in user experience above all else, ranking everything from the value of your content to the layout of your website in determining which sites offer the highest value to users.
Core Web Vitals is a new initiative which is ultimately designed to make things easier for you, the website owner, by allowing you to ascertain exactly how effective your website is in line with Google’s expectations. It is essentially a DIY check that you can perform to quantify the experience your website is providing to users – drawing your attention to problem areas so that you can fix them yourself.
The three new additions to Google’s ranking are as follows:
- LCP (Largest Contentful Paint)
- FID (First Input Delay)
- CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift)
Any idea what they mean? No? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Let’s take a closer look at what these areas really look at – and what you can do to optimise the experience across all three avenues.
Largest Contentful Paint
This is the page user time from the perspective of your website visitor. It refers directly to the seconds from clicking a link to the page loading and can be impacted by poor connectivity as well as pages stuffed with images or other visual content. As the title suggests, it works on the load time of the largest piece of content on any given webpage.
Your LCP time should sit under 2.5 seconds in order to provide the optimum user experience, as anything longer than that can be problematic both in the eyes of Google and the increasingly impatient users who will be visiting your site.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
- Check your images and videos. Chat to your website developer about ensuring the size is right across all devices, or else dive in yourself and conduct a page load time review in order to isolate the problem areas and compress the largest images.
- Reduce the number of redirects on any one webpage.
- Cache your website, keeping the webpages static so that when a user clicks a link, the page loads without searching for the most up to date content.
For more tips on improving your LCP score, chat to your website developer.
First Input Delay
First Input Delay is all about interaction and reaction, and how quickly your website is able to respond to a certain action performed by the user. Some examples include selecting clickable links and playing videos, with FID asking how long it takes for the webpage to become responsive.
It is important for website owners to understand that this is the area which deals with your CTA’s and action buttons. So much of your marketing and advertising will be designed to capture users and encourage them to take action – but a low FID rating can ruin all of that trust in seconds.
The best FID measurement is under 100 milliseconds, if you want your website to be ranked highly in the eyes of both Google and your website visitors.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
- Minimise the amount of data that needs to be processed on the user end.
(If this simply goes over your head, or you need support in achieving the recommended steps, chat to your web developer).
Cumulative Layout Shift
This is the area which deals with visual stability and how well your webpage is displayed across devices. Far from simply focussing on the aesthetic display of your website across different screen sizes, CLS looks at how stable each element on the page is – whether elements of the page jump around as the user scrolls, and whether or not a shift in page layout affects the user experience.
This is a crucial element of usability because shifting page elements and boxes can be aggravating and confusing for your website visitor – ultimately creating a poor experience.
The lower the better when it comes to your quantitative CLS measurement – under 0.1.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
- Ensure that every element on your webpage has set dimensions – from adverts to images and more. This means including size attributes in the build of your website, so that elements sit in the right place and do not move around as the user interacts with your site.
- Don’t overlay content.
- Be careful with the way you use and implement animated elements in your website. Any features which move as the user scrolls can be problematic.
The key thing to remember is that Core Web Vitals are here to help and can introduce you to potential challenges and issues with your website long before Google picks up on them and penalises you for them.
Use these updates and three specific areas to get to know your website from a backend user perspective, and use the results as a way of guiding future upgrades and updates to your site.