Core Web Vitals have been raising awareness about the democratization of User Experience on a website and is important that SEOs and webmasters understand it. After all, Web Vitals are a Google initiative that appeared to improve the quality of these experiences.
But this is not the first Google attempt to help web pages to understand what they have to do to improve their UX.
They have done some initiatives before as Pagespeed Insights, Google Lighthouse, and so many other tools, that actually was more a mess than helpful.
Apparently, Core Web Vitals are here to stay and they are becoming a fundamental part of optimizing the speed of a web page and its experience.
So in this post, you will discover all the basics and most important knowledge of Core Web Vitals and what you must do to improve them
Let’s get started!
What are Core Web Vitals?
Core Web Vitals are a set of factors that Google considers relevant and that is totally related to the experience of a user on a website. Its result has a direct impact on the positioning.
Google has thought of 3 elements to measure the Core Web Vitals of a website:
- LCP: Largest Contentful Paint
- FID: First Input Delay
- CLS: Cumulative Layout Shift
We will explain every detail of each element forward.
Information about Core Web Vitals can be found within the Main Web Metrics section of your Search Console account.
This does not mean that Core Web Vitals represent the User Experience itself. You should consider other elements such as HTTP if the site is mobile-friendly, stability, speed, and other stuff that will determine the experience your website is delivering to the users
Let’s start defining the 3 key factors of CWV.
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
The LCP reflects how long time a page takes to load from the user’s point of view.
It is the time that takes to display the content of a web page when a user clicks.
It focuses on determining the time that passes until users are able to interact with the web that they are loading.
To find out the LCP we use another of Google’s tools such as Pagespeed. Another good tool to see these values is GTMetrix.
Note: It is possible that the values of both GTMetrix and Pagespeed are not very similar.
So we recommend seeing this data directly from Google Search Console since Google takes more information from your entire site, not only from the home page.
Google has also created a comprehensive guide on how to optimize your LCP but there are some important facts that you need to know:
- A good LCP takes 2 seconds or less of loading time.
- An LCP that needs improvement takes 4 seconds or less of loading time.
- Low and bad LCP takes 6 seconds or more of loading time.
But unfortunately, SEOs face some issues on this point. And some can be unknown.
Why? Because inevitably there are many pages that, although they have a good loading speed, are being classified as poor pages by the LCP simply because they have too much information or too many resources.
You can try the LCP test in Search Console, Pagespeed, or GTMetrix and if the page has a low loading time, it will be classified by Google as a poor URL.
So maybe, you will need to make some adjustments and changes to improve the Web Vitals score, unless Google changes its rates. Those changes can go from code cleaning, take away some images to check the lazy loading, and more.
First Input Delay (FID)
Now let’s learn about First Input Delay.
FID measures the time it takes for the browser to respond to the user’s first interaction. The page will be more responsive if the browser reacts faster. And every webpage owner wants that, right?
For a better understanding, here you have some examples:
- Click on a menu item
- Click on an internal link on the web
- Add information such as filling in data or writing a comment
To optimize the FID, Google has some suggestions:
- A good FID will be less than 100 milliseconds
- An FID that needs improvement will be 300 milliseconds or less.
- A poor FID will be 500 milliseconds up.
Generally, FID will be associated with pages where the user has to bring information such as:
- Registration or login pages
Therefore, for blogs and corporate sites, the FID will not be something really relevant, and also it may not even appear in Search Console.
Google also has an FID Optimization Guide.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
Now, let’s find out the third element Google considers for Web Vitals: Cumulative Layout Shift.
The Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS), is a user-centered metric for measuring visual stability, which helps to quantify the frequency with which users experience unexpected design changes; a low CLS helps ensure that your website has smooth, natural changes.
One way that you can see this is when sports or news sites are loading and you can see how content moves from one position to another on the website.
These are unstable blocks of content that make users unable to click and interact, and it is even here that they accidentally click on other elements.
- A good CLS will be less than 0.1
- A CLS that needs improvement will be 0.25 and below
- Poor quality CLS will be marked with 0.3 and above
FQs about Core Web Vitals
There are some frequently asked questions that you would probably want to check.
When does Google start to pay attention to these factors?
Everything started in May 2021, however, we believe Core Web Vitals effects will be somewhat sustained over time and they will change to truly reflect what each website really offers.
How accurate is the data obtained in Search Console?
Nowadays, Google Search Console shows some unpredictable and inconsistent results with the ”real” data. More information is missing. What we do know is that all the data comes from the Chrome User Experience Report. This report reflects the actual use of web visitors around the world.
Why are my URLs poor/bad according to Search Console?
The current report is very incomplete and has some mistakes. We have seen pages very well optimized and classified with slow or poor URLs.
It is a matter of time for Google to refine details so the reports reflect better the reality.
What will happen with AdSense Ads and the CLS?
It is an unsolved mystery. But as a Google tool, it is natural to believe that Adsense blocks will be taken into account by the CLS so they won’t affect the obtained score.
Should I go to AMP?
Many SEOs believe that Google is forcing us to use AMP or Accelerated Mobile Pages so we can have better results on Core Web Vitals.
It is true that using AMP can drastically improve Core Web Vitals values, but it is also true that many websites cannot go to AMP.
On the other hand, many niches can make use of AMP to strengthen their user experience. So maybe you can consider it for the future.
Should I really pay attention to Web Vitals?
You have already taken a big step by reading this post. So we encourage you to be well informed and to pay attention to all the possible changes that can appear if this topic is something you want to improve on your website.
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