Google has always strived to provide the best user experience for everyone who is using their platform. That is why they always focus on a ton of different ranking factors which will determine what websites should be shown on what pages.
As you know, load time of a website has always been a huge factor, however there are now changes for 2021. Their newest announcement about the changes in their rankings, in their search engine will be a game-changer in the web industry. This upcoming ranking factor termed as ‘Core Web Vitals’ has many website owners reconsidering their website’s real user experience.
Let’s dig deeper into what this new ranking factor update is and how it will affect website rankings and overall search engine optimisation.
- What is Core Web vitals?
- What is going to be the effect of Google Core web vitals on the website’s traffic?
- How to measure your website’s performance?
- 6 easy tips to prepare your website for the upcoming 2021 Core Web Vital update
- Dos and Don’ts during optimising Core Web Vitals
What is Core Web vitals?
Google has announced the additional three metrics designed to measure the web functionality and, more importantly, the website’s user experience using which the websites are going to be ranked in the search engine. The new update will roll out possibly in 2021’s April.
These metrics will evaluate certain factors like your website’s loading speed, mobile compatibility, etc.
While it is expected for the Core Web Vitals to evolve, they will initially focus on three user aspects:
1. Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
2. First Input Delay (FID)
3. Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
Explaining the Core Web Vitals metrics
Before putting together your website, you contemplate many factors that would help in your website ranking in the search engine. With the new 2021 update, these three vitals metrics are equally essential to be considered along with the other elements.
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
If I try to explain it in simple terms, LCP measures how fast your page loads and interacts with the user. LCP measures are the largest block of content or image in the user viewport, and anything that exceeds this frame would not be counted.
Google has set the standard of 2.5 seconds in which the website should load everything in the first frame. The typically measured elements include background images, video poster images, and paragraph tags.
First Input Delay (FID)
FID measures your website’s interactivity, i.e., how much time a browser needs to respond after the user’s interaction on the page. We all have experienced a delay in processing the page when you click on something to learn more, and it takes ages to respond. Google is calculating this user’s frustration to rank your website. The ideal FID is considered 100 milliseconds or even less.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
CLS is the measurement of unexpected cumulative layout shifts and the overall visual stability of the page. In easy words, this Web Vital takes into account the responsiveness and how fast everything gets stable on the page.
Let’s explain this using a simple example. Say you found something interesting on the page, and just when you’re about to click it, something different appears, and you end up clicking the wrong thing.
The main reason why things are stable in the layout is because of the undefined image sizes. Let’s say you have a 400-pixel image; this pixel needs to be defined in the HTML. Animations and ads can make some other reasons.
What is going to be the effect of Google Core web vitals on the website’s traffic?
Now that we have the 4 main parts explained let’s examine how it will affect your website’s traffic. It is essential to understand that with their big 2021 update, they intend to optimise the user experience.
Because page experience is based on Googles ranking signals and fails to optimise these, the result is most likely the low ranking and therefore less traffic. Moreover, with the unsatisfactory UX, why would the users bother to return to your website? Unexpected layout shifts is seen as a very negative thing for the ranking signals, as you can imagine you’re trying to click on a button, and all of a sudden an unexpected layout shift happens and the button has moved, and you have now clicked elsewhere.
With this update, Google has wisely and practically pushed the site owners to create pages that users would enjoy, leading to increased business opportunities.
Apart from affecting the overall search result, this new update will be the main factor in ranking in the top stories in the search results. This means either you go an extra mile to adapt your site to the new 2021 update or end up losing your site’s traffic altogether.
According to Google’s newest research on the subject, there are 24% fewer chances of users abandoning page loads when a website meets the recommendations followed by this updated. If you are an experienced website owner, you may know how important this finding is, which can significantly boost site traffic. The biggest recommendations from me is to test your own website acting like your customers, and really notice whether you experience anything which would affect your website bad, in terms of ranking signals.
How to measure your website’s performance?
Google Page Speed Insights has all the data related to three essential metrics. All you are required to do is to enter your website, click on the ‘analyse’ option, and voilà! Your website’s results will be there on one page.
If you want to spot issues with your website, then Google Search Console is a better option than PageSpeed insights.
Chrome UX report, Developer Tools, Lighthouse, and Web Vitals Extension can also help you evaluate your site’s performance.
Chrome’s Developer Tool is a set of web developer tools which are built within a Chrome extension. These tools can help you investigate what is taking too much time loading on your website, do you have any images which can’t be found or maybe you have some SSL issues. All these issues can be solved by using this Chrome extension.
How do you keep an eye on your website in Google Search Console
In Google Search Console you have a menu point by the name “Core web vitals”, by clicking on that you can get insight about how your website is doing.
The report is pulled from the Chrome UX report, it reflects the real usage data on your website from all your visitors around the world. However, if you are a new website and don’t have a lot of traffic you will see some empty graphs, where they recommend you going to PageSpeed Insights to get insights about how your website is doing.
Via this report, you can access both the lab data and the field data for these new metrics we’ve discussed earlier in the article.
The Chrome UX report is powered by real visitor measurement of the most important visitors from your website. It’s based on a set of metrics which they measure on. Of course, they can only track from visitors who are using Chrome and has usage statistics reporting enabled, but this is all the visitors which the data is based on.
How to see the data in Google Analytics
Dan Taylor has developed a plugin for WordPress sites for you to incorporate all this data into your Google Analytics dashboard. I haven’t tested this plugin yet, if you do try it out please do let me know about your experiences.
This is a great tool for you who wants to keep everything in one place, in this case, in Google Analytics. It’s completely automated, and you just need to read the data and make changes to your website based on the data.
How to use Google PageSpeed insights to optimise your website
When you run your website through Google PageSpeed Insights, you will immediately get the results you need. I ran my website, and I really have some work cut out for me as you can see in the image below.
As you know many of the words it makes sense for you, and now you can dig into the different elements of this report. PageSpeed Insights will give you a ton of tips and tricks for how you can improve your scores, minimise your loading time on all these 6 points. I do recommend you looking into it, as mentioned earlier in the article, this is a huge focus for ranking in 2021. I will highly recommend you focusing on these performance metrics, as they are key to ranking success in 2021. Every performance metric has its own focus point, and if you have a website which scores well on all of them, you are looking into a bright future for your website.
What about Stories?
As I’ve mentioned earlier in my article about Stories, it’s their newest addition to their engine, and it’s here to stay. Their WordPress plugin is out of beta and people are actively using it. This new update will affect it positively seen from a website owners perspective, before you had to enable AMP to be able to use Stories, that’s not a requirement any longer.
6 easy tips to prepare your website for the upcoming 2021 Core Web Vital update
It’s always a wise idea to get prepared for the things you know will happen rather than fretting. Here are some tips so that you can be ready for the upcoming update beforehand.
1. Optimise images: Optimise your main banner to appear in the LCP threshold by either compressing it or converting it to a more practical format.
3. Content relevance still counts: There’s nothing better than high-quality content to attract users. While other factors do affect the search engine’s ranking, the content remains the king.
4. Mobile-friendliness: Google recognises mobile-responsiveness as a top priority in UX design in the September 2020 update.
5. Space for content loading: The key to maintaining CLS is always minimum to include height and width attributes on your video elements and images. This helps your browser to reserve adequate space while media loading and this avoids sudden changes in the design.
6. Use CDN for global users: If your website caters to a worldwide audience, then a useful CDN can be your saver as it can help optimise the LCP time. I’ve written an in-depth article about KeyCDN, maybe it’s the CDN for you?
Dos and Don’ts during optimising Core Web Vitals
When it comes to Core Web Vitals there are many ways to do it, but there are definitely also ways not to do it. Let’s dig into those here.
|Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)||Identify the largest element of the page and try to optimise it in the page load. Resize the elements to make sure that the largest element is your desired one. Deliver or compress banner or hero images in a new format like WebP or JPEG 2000. Use tools to optimise servers response like caching and CDN use.||Use a hero image or banner unless required.|
|Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)||Remove any activity on the page that is occurring without the interaction of a user. Remove any conflicting or redundant CSS that can change the page layout after loading. For animations, take help from the CSS transform property.||Inserting the content on the already existing content.|
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The algorithm is expected to be updated in 2021’s April, and Google ensures the six-month notice before the changes are made. Therefore, it is the best time to invest in the page experience so that your website won’t rank below after the update.
While they have issued the detailed guidelines according to the Core Web Metrics, these metrics are expected to change or evolve; therefore, it is necessary to keep your website updated to keep up with the pace of changing and developing algorithms.
The new factor is here and updating your website according to the new metrics is essential to thriving in the rapidly changing web industry.
What are the Core Web Vitals?
Core Web Vitals are the metrics which are determining the websites’ user experience and rank them accordingly. The three Core Web Metrics include:
— Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
— First Input Delay (FID)
— Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
What is CLS?
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) is the Core Web Metric that measures the visual stability of the website. It quantifies how often the design changes during user interaction. A low CLS means the page has a minimum of changes on the website which in the end optimises the user’s experience.
What is FID?
First Input Delay (FID) is the Core Web Metric, which quantifies the page responsiveness during the user interaction. A low FID means a usable page.
What is LCP?
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) quantifies the page loading performance and also evaluates the largest content element’s render time visible in the viewport.