Understanding Google’s Core Web Vitals

Jan 20, 2024

I do a lot of website SEO assessments, and these are often on really beautiful websites. I open up the site on my desktop and everything looks lovely to my human eye… but then the scans come back and Google’s Core Web Vitals score lights up with bright red negativity. POOR!

It reminds me of the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld yelling “NO SOUP FOR YOU!”

This is one of the things that can be so puzzling for business owners with websites they love. If Google’s Core Web Vitals are not meeting Google’s standards, your site is likely being penalized in search results. As a business owner, understanding the basics of Google’s Core Web Vitals is essential. And, even more importantly, if your Core Web Vitals score is low, you need a plan to fix it asap!

 

Google’s Core Web Vitals in a nutshell

Office with Google's Core Web Vitals on a laptop screenGoogle’s Core Web Vitals are a set of three key metrics that measure user experience on your website. They include Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID), and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS).

These metrics have become an integral part of Google’s search engine algorithm. They provide insights into how users perceive and interact with your website. By prioritizing user experience, Google aims to deliver the best results to its users.

Not only will meeting Google’s Core Web Vitals criteria make it more likely that you’ll rank higher in search engine result pages (SERPs), it’s likely to create a more positive user experience as well. And we all know, a better user experience can lead to higher conversion rates and better engagement metrics, so it’s worth the investment from multiple perspectives.

Let’s break down each metric and talk about how to optimize your website for better performance.

 

Key components of Core Web Vitals

Google’s Core Web Vitals consist of three main metrics that measure different aspects of user experience on your website. Understanding these metrics will help you identify areas for improvement and optimize your website accordingly.

  1. Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) measures how quickly the largest piece of content on your webpage loads. It indicates how fast users can see and interact with the main content of your page. A good LCP score is crucial for providing a positive user experience.

  1. First Input Delay (FID)

First Input Delay (FID) measures the time it takes for a user’s first interaction, such as clicking a button or entering text, to be processed by the browser. It measures the responsiveness of your website and directly impacts user experience.

Reducing FID will make your website feel more responsive and improve user satisfaction.

  1. Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) measures the visual stability of your website as it loads. It quantifies unexpected layout shifts that can disrupt the user experience, such as elements moving or resizing unexpectedly.

By minimizing CLS, you can ensure a smoother browsing experience for your users.

 

Measuring your Core Web Vitals performance

To optimize your website’s Core Web Vitals, it’s crucial to have the right tools to measure and monitor these metrics. Fortunately, there are several tools available that can help you track and analyze your website’s performance. Here are two of my favorites:

Google Search Console: This free tool from Google provides valuable insights into your website’s search performance, including Google’s Core Web Vitals data. It allows you to identify issues and track improvements over time. I recommend every website have this installed as early as possible.

PageSpeed Insights: Another free tool from Google, PageSpeed Insights analyzes your website’s performance and provides suggestions for improvement. It gives you a detailed breakdown of your Core Web Vitals scores and offers actionable recommendations.

By regularly monitoring Google’s Core Web Vitals using these tools, you can identify areas for improvement and track the impact of your optimization efforts.

 

Mobile performance is more important than ever

Website views on mobile far outweigh views on desktops these days. Gone are the day where mobile was an after thought, or a 50/50 split for website views. Google, of course, is well aware of this and recently decided that mobile optimization took priority over desktop performance. Obviously, you don’t want your desktop experience to be terrible, but if your mobile metrics for Google’s Core Web Vitals are low, Google will start rejecting your soup orders.

One key aspect of mobile optimization is responsive design. A responsive website adjusts its layout and content based on the screen size and capabilities of the device accessing it. This ensures that your website looks and performs well on any device, improving Core Web Vitals and user experience.

Another important factor is mobile page load speed. Mobile devices often have slower internet connections, so it’s essential to optimize your website’s performance for mobile users. This includes minimizing server response time, optimizing images for mobile devices, and reducing the size of CSS and JavaScript files.

Additionally, you should prioritize mobile usability by ensuring that your website is easy to navigate on small screens, buttons and links are large enough to be tapped accurately, and forms are optimized for mobile input.

By focusing on mobile optimization, you can improve your website’s Core Web Vitals and provide a seamless user experience across all devices.

 

Don’t let Google’s Core Vitals intimidate you. Know your metrics and connect with your web developer if your scores are low, or if they drop. Sometimes you just need to adjust some workflows (minify those images, friends!) or add plugins to assist with load times. Or, you may need some serious work on your website infrastructure – which is particularly likely if your site has been status quo for a few years.

And, of course, if you want an SEO assessment to understand your performance with Google Core Web Vitals as well as 12 other key SEO measurements, reach out. Let us help you ensure your website is helping your business grow, not creating a barrier.

 

 

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