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Core Web Vitals as a Google Ranking Factor

20 Apr 2021
core web vitals as SEO ranking factor

Core Web Vitals as a Google Ranking Factor

The Google Search engine uses many ranking factors to rank websites and provide the most relevant results for users. Some Google ranking factors have been around for some time and others that they keep on introducing. The most recent ranking factor introduction is the core web vitals.

In this article, we are going to explore Google core web vitals as a Google ranking factor.

What are Core Web Vitals?

Core web vitals are performance metrics that highlight web page development aspects that impact the user experience, such as visual stability, interactivity, responsiveness, and page loading times.

In short, they are user-centered metrics that help quantify particular aspects of the user experience. Typically, core web vitals are crucial in measuring the vital dimension of web usability. Google defines core web vitals as:

  • The time a page takes for it to become interactive
  • The visual page content’s amount of unexpected layout shift
  • The time a page’s main content takes for it to load

Google grades the above metrics based on three outcomes: good, needs improvement, or fail.

Three Metrics of Core Web Vitals

There are three metrics of core web vitals. They are:

First Input Delay

It is a metric that measures the responsiveness of your webpage. Essentially, it measures the time between when a user first interacts with a page on your website and when the browser produces results based on that interaction.

Example of these interactions are:

  • Opening up “accordion text” on mobile phones
  • Entering an email address into a field on a webpage
  • Choosing an option from a menu
  • Clicking on a link in the website’s navigation

Google considers first input delay an important metric as it considers the interaction of real-life users with a website. Besides, Google has specific criteria that define what an acceptable first input delay constitutes.

Good: less than 100ms.

Needs Improvement: up to 300ms.

Poor: longer than 300ms.

Since FID is a measure of the time it takes for a user to execute an action in a webpage, it is a page speed score in this sense. For pages that are 100% content, such as news articles or blog posts, the first input delay is not a big deal since the significant interactions are either pinching to zoom in and out or scrolling down the page.

However, for a sign-up, login page, or any other webpage that requires visitors to quickly click on something, first input delay is very crucial.

Below are some of the things that you can do on your website to improve its first input delay score:

  • Use a Browser Cache

Using a browser cache is essential as it helps browsers to load the content on your webpage faster. As a result, the user’s browser is able to blast through JavaScript loading tasks more rapidly.

  • Defer (or minimize) JavaScript

When a browser is loading up JavaScript, it makes it almost impossible for your site’s visitors to interact with a webpage. For this reason, it is vital to defer or minimize JavaScript on your page to improve the first input delay score.

  • Get Rid of any Non-Critical Third-Party Scripts.

Third-party scripts such as heatmaps, Google Analytics, etc., have a negative impact on your website’s first input delay score. 

Cumulative Layout Shift

It is a metric that measures how fast your webpage becomes visually stable. It refers to the time a webpage takes for all its elements, such as text sections or clickable links to stop moving around and move into their final place.

Having a fairly stable page as it loads up is crucial for your site’s visitors as they will not click on something by mistake or need to re-learn where fields, images, and links are located once the page fully loads. Cumulative layout shifts misclicks often lead to a poor user experience that is bad for your rating.

Besides, if your site runs display ads and visitors click on them unintentionally, it may lead to a potential Two-Click Penalty or some other dreadful consequences. It takes time to become aware of this issue, and it can have a negative impact on your website’s ad performance. Moreover, this issue is quite challenging to fix.

Below are the specific criteria that Google uses for cumulative layout shift:

  • Poor: longer than 250ms.
  • Needs Improvement: between 100 – 250ms.
  • Good: less than 100ms.

Every website owner’s goal should be attaining a cumulative layout shift score that is as close to zero as possible. The less frustrating and intrusive page changes, the better. To minimize cumulative layout shift, you can:

  • Ensure You Have a Reserved Space for all Your Ads Elements

It is crucial to reserve a space for all the ad elements in your webpage to prevent ads from pushing content to the side or up by suddenly appearing on the page.

  • For Any Media, Use Set Size Attribute Dimensions

For media such as infographics, GIFs, images, or videos, it is crucial to set their size attribute dimensions. Doing so allows the user’s browser to know exactly the space that that particular element will consume on that particular web page. Furthermore, it helps avoid changing its position during the loading of the page.

  • Add New User Interface Elements Below the Fold

Doing so helps prevent pushing content down; thus, the user clicks directly on the intended position in the web page.

Other ways to improve both cumulative layout shift and user experience are:

      • Providing adequate space for iframes and embeds
      • Optimizing for Web fonts causing FOIT/FOUT
      • Reserve adequate space for dynamic content

Largest Contentful Paint

It is when a user clicks on a link to when he/she gets to see the largest piece of the main content, whether it is a mobile page or a desktop page. Typically, the time should not go above 2.5 seconds. However, it is quite challenging to achieve this LCP, especially if your web pages have many features.

By reducing a page’s loading time, the site’s owner can significantly reduce bounce rate and increase conversions. Research conducted shows that by increasing a page’s loading time from one second to three seconds can result in the rise of bounce rate by 32%. If you increase the loading time from one second to six seconds, there is a drastic rise in the bounce rate, sometimes going even higher than 106 %.

The largest contentful paint is not like other page speed measurements such as first contextual paint, and TTFB does not represent what it is like for your website’s visitor to open a page. Instead, largest contentful paint concentrates on the elements that matter when it comes to page speed: the ability to see and interact with a site’s webpage.

The correlation between the loading speed of a webpage and the bounce rate is enough motivation for every site owner to improve the loading speed. Users do not tolerate slow loading webpages and will leave your site within seconds if they notice your webpages have a longer loading time.

Google has specific largest contentful paint guidelines. They are:

  • Good: less than 2 seconds.
  • Needs Improvement: Between 2 seconds and 4 seconds
  • Poor: longer than 4 seconds

Below are some of the things that you can do as a site owner to improve the largest contentful paint of your website:

  • Minify Your CSS

It is a crucial remedy since bulky CSS greatly delays largest contentful paint times.

  • Remove Large Page Elements

It is essential to remove elements in your page that are significantly slowing down the largest contentful paint of your web pages.

  • Get Rid of Unnecessary Third-Party Scripts

Unnecessary third-party scripts have a negative impact on the LCP of your web pages. For this reason, it is necessary to get rid of the unnecessary ones.

  • Set Up Lazy Loading

Setting up lazy loading means your web pages will achieve the largest contentful paint faster since images will only load once the user scrolls down your web pages.

Upgrading to a better web hosting service significantly increases your LCP and webpages loading time.

Checking The Core Web Vitals Stats of Your Website

It is crucial to gain insights into the core web vitals of your website. You can achieve this by using:

  1. Chrome DevTools and Lighthouse

You can use these tools to measure the specs of your web pages. You then identify what to fix and the steps to take to fix the identified issues successfully.

  1. Page Speed Insights

It is a crucial tool that allows you to identify core web vitals metrics in your web pages.

  1. Chrome User Experience Report

It is a tool that provides real-life user data about the core web vitals performance of your site.

4.Google Search Console

This tool allows verified owners to monitor the current state of their core web vitals metrics. It categorizes the performance of your web pages into either “Poor,” “Need Improvement,” or “Good.”  

Core Web Vitals as a Ranking Factor

These metrics measure the user experience that visitors have with web pages. Websites with high core web vitals metrics will rank highly in search results.

Content relevancy plays a huge role in search results rankings, and it is essential to note that core web vitals do not decrease the importance of content relevancy. Even with a poor page experience signal, web pages having highly relevant content may still rank higher.

Final Verdict

As we have seen above, core web vitals play a huge role in your website’s SEO. It is important to monitor core web vitals metrics regularly. If the metrics are poor, you should immediately seek professional help to rectify your web pages.

At SEO agency, we have highly skilled SEO experts who will help you get a higher ranking for your website. We offer a free quote for our SEO services. Visit our website today for the best search engine optimization services.

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