Let’s Talk About Google Core Web Vitals
I was invited by Social Champ to talk about Google Core Web Vitals, and it was a great Twitter hour. Thank you, guys! There were a lot of good questions, and the community on Social Champ are great.
So what are the much talked about Google Core Web Vitals anyway? Google started talking about them in May 2020 and launched them in June 2021. We’ve heard a lot about them, and probably already work to ensure our websites get the green light from Google, right? I don’t want to lose anything in the translation, so here’s what Google says, in a nutshell:
Core Web Vitals are user-centric metrics – a critical tool in understanding, measuring and improving the user experience of your website.
What’s Behind the Core Web Vitals?
It’s all about UX, or User Experience. It’s always been about that. Before there was WordPress even, websites need to be built with one thing in mind: our websites need to solve a problem. That’s what websites are they are solutions. Websites are sought because we have a problem. What are these problems?
- We want to buy something,
- we want information,
- we want to be entertained,
- or we want to meet with others. That’s it.
Our websites should be fast, simple, and useful to answer these needs. They should be easy to use, regardless of context. That means they should be accessible. Regardless of who your visitor is, what device they use, or where they are.
To sum up?
- Our websites need to load fast,
- make clear where users can click,
- and not move after they load. :o)
This experience is neatly summed up by Google’s Core Web Vitals (https://developers.google.com/web/tools/chrome-user-experience-report/)
What is Google Measuring?
Google measures everything. Don’t be fooled. There are more than 200 ranking factors that go into where we end up in the Google ranking. Add to that Google Ads, Social Media, and Content Marketing and we have our work cut out for us. And honestly, even if your website is faster than your friend’s but your friend’s website offers content more relevant to my search? Google will show their website before mine. Google is still all about relevance.
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)- Loading Time
“Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) is an important, user-centric metric for measuring perceived load speed because it marks the point in the page load timeline when the page’s main content has likely loaded—a fast LCP helps reassure the user that the page is useful.” (source Google)
Improve your LCP https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=480m72yjZv8
First Input Delay (FID) – Interactivity
“First Input Delay (FID) is an important, user-centric metric for measuring load responsiveness because it quantifies the experience users feel when trying to interact with unresponsive pages—a low FID helps ensure that the page is usable.” (source Google)
Improve your FID https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qPmRIqFDOsw
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) – Website Movement (ads in header and co.)
“Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) is an important, user-centric metric for measuring visual stability because it helps quantify how often users experience unexpected layout shifts—a low CLS helps ensure that the page is delightful.” (source Google)
Improve your CLS https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6WiGWDU0nU
Google has further metrics, recently introduced, like Interaction to Next Paint and Time to First Byte. All of the User-Centric performance metrics can be found here:
Sounds like a foreign language? Search Engine Journal offers a complete eBook Core Web Vitals: A Complete Guide https://www.searchenginejournal.com/core-web-vitals/
What About AMP Sites?
That’s a good question that came up during the chat. I don’t have any AMP websites currently in play, and there is a lot of talk about what Google will do with AMP going forward. BUT, we can’t compare the two – it’s a bit like comparing grapes with wine.
“Considering Google’s recent push with Core Web Vitals, the AMP format’s importance will decrease going forward.” “Automatic Platform Optimization Post-Launch Report.” The Cloudflare Blog, 16 Mar. 2021.
“Any page that meets the Google content policies will be eligible and we will prioritize pages with great page experience, whether implemented using AMP or any other web technology, as we rank the results.”
What Google Says: If I built AMP pages, do they meet the recommended thresholds?
There is a high likelihood that AMP pages will meet the thresholds. AMP is about delivering high quality, user-first experiences; its initial design goals are closely aligned with what Core Web Vitals measure today. This means that sites built using AMP likely can easily meet Web Vitals thresholds. Furthermore, AMP’s evergreen release enables site owners to get these performance improvements without having to change their codebase or invest in additional resources. It is important to note that there are things outside of AMP’s control which can result in pages not meeting the thresholds, such as slow server response times and un-optimized images. Learn more here.
How Can I Check my Website for the Core Web Vitals?
HOT TIP: Don’t become a slave to a tool, or even to the Google updates. Tools are there to help you. Just make great websites that people want to visit. Don’t build websites for Google, build them for people.
“Don’t chase the algorithm: algorithms change, users don’t change.” Eli Schwartz
#ChampsTalk Twitter chat session Topic: Let’s Talk About Google Core Web Vitals Questions and Answers
Warren, could you please explain what is Google Core Web Vitals for those who are listening to this term for the first time?
Since May 2021, Google has placed their expectations of our websites into an actual set of rules. And they are great reminders for us! Core Vitals focus on 3 UX items: loading time, interactivity, and page stability.
Why is Core Web Vitals important and is it necessary that web developers need to think about it before making any website live?
If we want our website to be found in organic search, we have a lot to consider. When we build our sites, they should always be fast, accessible, and usable. Core Vitals are just best practice with another name.
What are the pre-requisite in order to work on the website for Core Web Vitals?
Core Vitals aside, always address general user fundamentals on your sites. If we work with prebuilt themes, they should be light. Only use what we need. Websites aren’t movies. They are there to solve a problem. People might go to your site and only stay 45 seconds.
What are the main factors that Google considers for Core Web Vitals in a webpage to enhance the overall user experience?
Websites should load quickly. Max 2 seconds. Once loaded we want to click. So your site shouldn’t move after loading. BUT If website 1 is faster than website 2 but 2 is more relevant to the search query, website 2 will still outrank website 1.
What are LCP, FID & CLS and what are the differences among them?
The Core Vitals are: Largest Contentful Paint, First Input Delay (total blocking time), and Cumulative Layout Shift. In a nutshell it is a check of when is our website visible (loaded), usable (clickable), and stable (not moving). Kind of important.
How can one check Core Web Vitals score? Would you recommend any tools for it?
Why Google Core Web Vitals is not just a technical thing – why it’s important for SEO and Content Creation people too?
Tech can scare us off. All these tools! Core Vitals help keep us honest. They police our design and layout for one. For SEO, they give us a sense of how people experience our website. SEO is a Google consideration, so if Google is happy then so will our SEO results!
Please share some tips to improve the Core Web Vitals Score for custom websites.
Core Vitals are what Google have always been telling us to do. Make it good and fast. Build light websites. Write good, simple, content. Make sites accessible all the time on every device. I love the getwpo.com optimiser plugin and themes by @Gatsby_WP
Lastly, who do you think we should invite next on #ChampsTalk?
Have you had Bridget Willard @BridgetMWillard on your show? I do think design and accessibility are both really important to our online marketing. So, both Anne Bovelett @Bovelett and Anja Reimann @Zartherb would be great guests!
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With thanks to Souvik Banerjee for the photo from Unsplash https://unsplash.com/@rswebsols