The core web vitals are several variables used by Google to rank a webpage on their search engine result. Previously, many people think that Search Engine Optimization or SEO is the only factor they should work on to appear higher on a search result. Optimizing the keyword usage and utilizing the Google Adsense, so it appears on top of the list.
SEO is still important, but Google has announced that they will take the core web vitals as important variables on the search result effective per 2021. This decision made many web designers re-evaluate their design and work on how to make the page faster while still being attractive.
The importance of giving the visitors the best user experience has risen throughout the years, as more websites asked the visitors to input their emails or another contact method to receive a promotion or sign up for an update. At any rate, relying on the keyword is no longer work as the most important matter to score high on Google rank.
Why the core web vitals are important
Let's start with what is the core web vitals and why they are important for the webpage. In 2020, Google stated that they would implement the core web vitals as essential measures on their search engine result per May 2021.
Search Engine Result Page or SERP is a good way to measure how a keyword makes the website relevant to the visitors. The higher the site's rank on SERP means that the website has managed to optimized the keyword.
What you need to know is that these core web vitals have always been there, but they were not visible until recently. When Google made the change, many web designers changed their view on how to make the website attractive, functional, and has a high analytical score. They measure three different aspects, loading speed, interactive and visual stability.
A lot of people oversimplify them as a single issue, and that is a slow page load. But by analyzing the elements metrics will help you identify the issue and figure out the best way to optimize the webpage and raise the traffic.
1. Loading speed
The term for this aspect is Large Contentful Paint. In general, this aspect measures how fast a page is loaded on the browser. The task of a web designer is not only to provide a website with a good and easy user interface. But it also has to load quite fast, disregarding how much data it pulls on every refresh.
A good website has to be fast when being accessed. That is the most important part of the user experience. Anyone would expect a website to load fast when they are accessing it, no matter when.
Google recommends 2.5 seconds for the page load as the maximum limit to be considered a good LCP score. If the score is more than 4 seconds, the website is heavy with useless data, and it's has a slow interface. This stands for every page on the website, not just the index page.
Keep in mind that Google has decided to be focused on mobile browser optimization. So that is another variable added to the equation.
There are a lot of websites that scored better on a regular browser but low on mobile. Even when you have to consider the option of low signal and internet connection, you also need to put in the equation that mobile has a slower processor. And this can affect the loading score.
An interactive website from the analytical point of view does not mean a very flashy website that confuses its visitors. A website has to be attractive while still being informative as well. The visitors shouldn't be confused or distracted by the elements or too much information on the page.
The interactive score is called the First Impression Delay or FID. The simplest explanation is it measures the visitor's experience on accessing the website. The main value that is measured is how fast the visitor can access the data offered by the website. So, what's the difference between FID and LCP? Are they not the same?
While LCP measures the site's loading speed, FID measures the website's response speed. It correlates with how well the data are computed and deliver the visitor's need. It also measures how quickly the page response to every click that the visitors make. It could be anything from clicking on a link to a new page or input a number or text.
Just like the LCP value, the lower the FID score, the better the user experience it gives. Google recommends 100 milliseconds as the benchmark value to be reached. At the same time, anything above 300 milliseconds is considered as giving the visitors a bad user experience.
3. Visual stability
The visual stability score is measured by how well the web page is while holding the data for the visitors. The unit is called cumulative layout shift (CLS). The understanding is how well the website load and manages its content without sacrificing user experience.
The CLS measures how steady the site is when interacting with the visitors. The steady value matters much on the user experience. There are many instances where the visitors got annoyed by how the website suddenly scrolls quickly or accidental clicking on a link due to a page element suddenly come into action.
A bad user experience reflects badly as a high visual stability score. It means that even though the page appears high on the search engine list, due to maximum keyword usage, people will still avoid the page because of the issues they have experienced. The suggested score by Google is 0.1 or less.
All these aspects are interconnected and important to one another. What is considered a good SERP number is if it's within the 75% percentile. So, when your page scored only 73, it will still be considered as bad.
This can be quite complicated in a way because there are three aspects to be measured. A website could score best in FID and CLP but low on CLS or have a good CLS value but low CLP score.
To complicate matters more, the metrics calculate the total value from each element. Scoring as "need improvement" in one element will affect the total score and regard the whole website as "need improvement." Disregarding how close it is with scoring as good.
The goal is to score well in all three elements. Some people might be okay and take "need improvement" as acceptable. This might work for websites with specific keyword niches. But in general, scoring "good' in all elements is essential to attract visitors. You are expected to keep the numbers within the percentile to keep the website on the first three search engine pages.
What you have to do to improve
The keyword here is "have to" instead of "can do." There are ways to improve the SERP, but not all are effective. Firstly, you should identify the issue for each aspect of core web vitals. To figure out which element requires more attention for a better score and subsequently better traffic.
A lot of people think that a web designer is only responsible for the front-end, how the webpage looks the pages. But it takes more than that. They are also responsible for how it measures up on the search engine result as the keyword alone is not enough to do the job.
There are six tools that you can use to optimize the core web vitals score. They are divided into lab tools for more of the back-end job and the field tools for the front-end value.
The field tools such as PageSpeed Insight, Chrome UX Report, and Search Console are collecting real-time data where you can analyze the values and make necessary adjustments to optimize the search engine result. These tools are perfect for when you have to make minor changes or doing a quick fix on a page.
And there are the lab tools such as Chrome DevTools, Total Blocking Time, and Lighthouse that are meant to see how well the website works in a more controlled environment. Any adjustment you made wouldn't affect the user experience unless you made the changes live.
These tools will help you analyze the metrics based on the search engine result. You could see which elements that holding the webpage back and work on improving it. Remember, user experience also matters in the search engine result.
Feel free to use only one or several tools at once to see which one will give you the best result. They are essentially the same, but each person has their preferences. When you are familiar with the tools, you will recognize any issues quickly and can solve them faster.
1. How to improve LCP
- Streamline the server and cache the assets
- Choose a better web host and has a CDN for the elements
2. How to improve FID
- Lessen the script execution time by breaking up longer tasks
- Utilize the browser's cache
- Remove non-essential scripts as much as possible
3. How to improve CLS
The problem with CLS is often related to the images featured on the page or some advertisement content. Some web pages insist on featuring high-resolution images. This is okay and doable, but often it would sacrifice the score and affect their Google rank.
The main question is how to manage the delivery without compromising on the speed and user experience. Keep in mind that people visit the page following a search engine result based on a specific keyword.
Therefore, just like keywords, images and contents must be optimized to give a better user experience. Here are several ways to optimize the CLS score.
- Reserve a static space for the advertisements
- Do not put new layers of contents on top of the existing one unless it is part of the interaction.
- Utilize the placeholder and font change option to help the visitor to read the content while waiting for the images to load.
Most people only have issues with either one of the elements on any combination. However, it still is possible to have an issue with all those three at once. But with the help from the tools mentioned above, you could isolate the problems and work on them until the website scored better.
Once you have identified the issue using one of the tools, you could work and see the improvement by doing the search engine test. A lot of users are already tech-savvy and able to choose which websites to visit. Using the search engine is their way to see how many options they have on the information based on the keyword given.
How it will affect the traffic
Google is reported to consider implementing the core web vitals as an important part of their search engine result. It means that the designers will have a real-time measure of how the visitors are interacting on a website. This will result in how high the website appears on the search engine.
Optimizing the core web vitals value means that the website is ticking all the boxes based on Google's requirements. It gives the largest search engine company that the website is being both informative and attractive, as well as promising a good user experience.
This information is rewarded by Google by putting the website high on their search engine results even though many other websites are covering the same keyword. What you need to remember is that the metrics calculated all pages on the website, not only the index or specific page, based on the keyword search.
A case example, a website visitor reads an article on a specific keyword that took 3 seconds to load. The visitor moved to the index page, and that took 5 seconds. The visitor tried other pages and saw that the website took approximately 4 seconds to load. The LCP score on the webpage is bordering on bad. It shows that the whole website needs improvement immediately to cut the loading time.
Anyhow, any improvement may or may not happen as soon as you have optimized the value. You could do a measured and regular search engine test to see how much the website has improved. After all, the website traffic can be monitored in a real-time manner.
Another thing to keep in mind is that these metrics are not the only thing that matters on a search engine result. There is a chance that the keyword has saturated the search at that time. Resulting in your website seem to be not making any improvement. But don't worry, the traffic will certainly be improved over time.
Google may not be the only search engine people used these days. But it is the main and front runner that opened the door to another search engine. As the search engine optimization rules have changed throughout the years, there is no need for the website to overused and spammed one or several keywords on a specific page. Instead, they have to be savvier to make the people more interested in the topic.
Keep in mind that there are a high number of mobile users that also in the equation, with Google focusing their attention to give mobile users the same experience as regular PC and laptop users while browsing, adding a burden to the designers to work better on designing an attractive website that still loads fast on a mobile browser.
At any rate, the improvements will not be a magical occurrence. Utilizing the tools can help you improve the score. But the website must still have updated content with relevant keywords to stay on top of the search engine result with the addition of having a good core web vitals value.