< Insights

SEO Survival Tip: Focus on Web Vitals

Chris Brown

Director, Search Engine Optimization

Google Core Web Vitals are a set of page experience metrics that have evolved from Google’s “User First” mindset to ensure websites are providing a high-quality load experience for all web pages. These metrics are important for developers, webmasters, and search engine optimizers. For SEO, Core Web Vitals is a new piece of the Google search ranking factors that we expect to hold increasing weight in a site’s overall evaluation from Google. This could mean that a poor website user experience may impact its ability to rank in Google search results.

After a delay earlier in the year, Google is integrating Core Web Vitals into their ranking systems through a page experience update in mid-June 2021 and will continue to increase its role in their evaluation systems through the end of August 2021.

Anyone can easily evaluate a website by simply entering the URL at http://web.dev or reading the new Page Experience report in Google Search Console and reading the comprehensive audit and action items Google provides. Many action items require web development or web master support as they primarily address issues with web design, file size, sever performance, and code changes.

The Core Web Vitals are split into 3 measurements:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
  • First Input Delay (FID)
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

Let’s Briefly Explore the Ideas Behind These 3 Measurements:

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)

The Largest Contentful Paint measures website loading performance and is identified as the largest text block or image on a webpage. Measuring the LCP load time is valuable to understand when a page’s main content loads for users, an important metric for Google to trust the usefulness of a web page.

Good web pages load the largest text block or image in under 2.5 seconds. Poor web pages load the largest text block or image over 4 seconds. Learn more about page load speed here.

First Input Delay (FID)

To make a difficult concept simple, FID is the delay in a user clicking a site element and the site responding to the input. Google is measuring how responsive a web page is for the user, so they are not waiting for the input to turn into action.

Sites with a good user experience have a First Input Delay of under 100 milliseconds. Sites with a bad user experience have a First Input Delay of more than 300 milliseconds. Learn more about input delay here.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

Everyone has tried to press a website button on our phones, only to have the page load new elements and move the button down the page and out of reach. These layout shifts impact the functionality of the site during loading. CLS is a measurement of a page’s visual stability experience for users. Google wants to discourage layout shifts and is creating a Layout Shift Score in Core Web Vitals to measure this on your site.

Good web pages have a Layout Shift Score of under 0.1. Learn more about Layout Shift Scores here.

How Will Core Web Vitals Impact You Long Term?

Core Web Vitals are creating the additional need to re-evaluate and address issues with websites. This means more time and resources spent on fixing the action items Google identifies. Without passing page experience scores, a website will not receive a ranking boost from Core Web Vitals, which could negatively impact search performance in Google search results, ultimately impacting marketing effectiveness.

Many SEO experts are sunsetting their use of Google AMP pages because sites that score well in Core Web Vitals should load with comparable quickness. Google has indicated it will stop showing the AMP badge icon to indicate AMP content, further signaling a future end of AMP as a search factor. Ending AMP webpage support could turn into resource savings by focusing efforts once spent on AMP pages back to core website page experience.

The good news is a faster and more user-friendly website should increase user interaction and goal performance. Google has posted case studies to show how Core Web Vitals have impacted real businesses and to help dialogue with stakeholders to invest resources into these improvements.

Is your site failing the Core Web Vitals test? Contact us today and we can evaluate your website and walk you through the process of improving your scores.

Imaginuity Insights