Understanding Core Web Vitals and Their Impact on Your Marketing Strategy. Panda, Bert, and many other Google algorithm updates have always emphasized user experience. Each update brought a major change with it.
Be it eliminating keyword stuffing, flagging spammy or irrelevant links, introducing page speed as a ranking factor, and mobile-first indexing, Google has always favored a better user experience. Core Web Vitals — the latest in the line of updates are also Google’s push in that direction.
Core Web Vitals are core elements that help enhance the page experience for web users. And any business that values its brand, visibility, and user experience must pay attention to these metrics and how they impact its marketing strategy.
Before we get into that, let’s properly understand the concept of core web vitals.
Understanding the Core Web Vitals / What are Core Web Vitals?
As we mentioned, Google always advocates for user experience while ranking high-quality content that matches users’ intent. The whole process of ranking relevant pages at the top of Search Engine Result Pages (SERP) is semantic. It factors in mobile-friendliness, interactivity, visual stability, page speed, and a lot of other ranking signals.
Since measuring the quality of on-page experience involves many facets, Core Web Vitals include three of the primary facets: Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) for loading experience, First Input Delay (FID) for interactivity, and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) for visual stability.
Some other search signals for page experience include:
Let’s understand more about each of the Core Web Vitals:
1. Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
Historically, measuring the loading performance of web pages was a challenge. Also, the metrics available were either complex, often wrong, or not good and accurate to measure the perceived load time. That’s why Google has come up with simpler metrics this time, which measures the time taken by the largest content of the page to render.
The size of element reported for LCP must be visible within the user’s viewport and must not extend or get clipped outside of it. Elements considered for LCP measurement include <img>, <image> element inside <svg>, <video> elements (poster image), and others. Additional elements, such as <svg> and <video> may get introduced in the future.
To offer users a great experience, LCP must take place within the first 2.5 secs from the first instance of loading.
Google also recommends webmasters to ensure they are hitting the set target for most users. A good threshold to measure is the 75th percentile of page load, segmented across mobile and desktops.
2. First Input Delay
Making a first good impression is important when meeting new people. Similarly, giving a first good impression to your users on the web is necessary to make them loyal to your website. However, it’s crucially difficult to measure what kind of impression a web page makes on users.
One way to go about measuring the impression is how fast a page loads and paints the pixels on the screen. However, the responsiveness of the page is also equally important when users try to interact with those pixels. First Input Delay is what helps Google measure the interactivity and responsiveness of the web page.
It is a measure of time from the first interaction of the user to the point when the browser actually starts processing the event in response. A good FID score recommended by Google for web pages to maintain is under 100 milliseconds.
Also, it’s recommended to keep a good threshold to ensure you’re hitting the target for most users by measuring the 75th percentile.
3. Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
CLS is more to do with how stable the page’s content is. On certain occasions, we may have encountered content that changes or moves without any warning. Due to the asynchronous loading of resources in the background, such unexpected and annoying movements take place that can cause real damage.
Layout shifts are more problematic in the real world when users make interactions with your web pages. The CLS metric addresses this issue. It is a measure of the layout shift score of major bursts in every unexpected shift. It occurs when a visible element changes its position from one rendered frame to another.
Previously, CLS measured all the individual layout shift scores that took place in the entire life span. Now, the CLS has evolved to ignore the minor layout shifts.
For a good user experience, webmasters should strive to have a CLS score of 0.1 or less. Similar to other vitals, a good threshold measure is of the 75th percentile of page load.
Importance of Core Web Vitals
Since their introduction, Core Web Vitals have become important metrics for webmasters to swear by. First introduced back in May 2020, Google has already started rolling out Core Web Vitals as page ranking signals in Feb 2022. It’s due to complete by the end of March 2022.
After the implementation, Google aims to take the experience of their users a notch above. What this means is websites that fail to apply best page experience practices would rank lower than the ones that do apply.
Web designers, digital marketers, and SEOs must focus on LCP, FID, and CLS for page experience optimization. Website owners must work with professional SEO firms and even web development companies to find ways to optimize these metrics because of the magnitude of the effect they’ll have on the site rankings.
How Core Web Vitals Impact Your Marketing Strategy?
1. Rethink Your Google Optimization
After the inclusion of the Core Web Vitals as the ranking factors, Google search optimization may see a dramatic impact on rankings. Brands may experience a shift in their Google rankings in the coming months after the rollout is complete.
Another thing to note here is Core Web Vitals are ranking factors but not the quality factors as stated by Google’s Search Advocate John Mueller. Still, in a way, you have to rethink your Google search optimization strategy.
You still need to keep the emphasis on producing quality content along with optimizing web pages to offer the best page experience to visitors. It’ll help them stay back for a while and even visit frequently to get the same experience.
2. Impact on Your Web Page Experience
Since Google wants to offer the best user experience to its searchers, Core Web Vitals have become the tools to facilitate the same. It’s a must for websites to optimize for these metrics to be in the good books of Google and attain or maintain the high SERP ranks.
This means web designers may need tools to stress on improving the LCP, FID, CLS, and other related page experience optimization metrics.
Even after Google implements the Core Web Vitals on the whole web, these metrics will continue to evolve. And website owners need to continually optimize these metrics to sustain web page experience and SERP rankings.
3. Impact on Your Mobile Experience
The mobile share of organic search engine visits in the United States has constantly been around 60% from Q3 2019 to Q4 of 2021. This hints at users being more likely to make a search from their handheld devices rather than a laptop or desktop computer, especially for local searches.
As per the latest Google updates, Core Web Vitals have already been rolled out for mobile searches between June and August 2021 to offer a mobile-friendly experience.
While Core Web Vitals are rolling out for desktops, the mobile experience is a long-standing part of Google’s effort to reinforce mobile search. Google even announced mobile-first indexing to rank the whole web, which means mobile-optimized websites have a higher chance of ranking.
4. Impact on SEO & Digital Marketing
The website design plays a vital role in improving the Core Web Vitals and SEO performance. If designers miss the mark, your website may suffer from SEO loss.
Since Core Web Vitals take large content, its interactivity, and visual stability into account, the impact on users’ overall page experience may hurt SEO performance.
Search engine optimization is the backbone of your digital marketing strategy.
It’s a way to bring in fresh visitors, get more leads, and convert interested users — everything at a fraction of the cost. Drop-in SEO ranks can put havoc on your marketing strategy.
Thus, webmasters who want to be in the good books of Google need to take care of the page speed for largest content, page interactivity, and visual stability. Doing so will help you get rewarded from Google by ranking your website high on SERP.
Webmasters may find this a bit overwhelming at times as page experience update forces them to put effort into optimizing for additional changes apart from search optimization. To avoid the last-minute rush, it’s recommended that you start measuring and improving the Core Web Vitals early on.
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Author’s bio for this guest post:
Hazel Raoult is a freelance marketing writer and works with PRmention. She has 6+ years of experience in writing about business, entrepreneurship, marketing, and all things SaaS. Hazel loves to split her time between writing, editing, and hanging out with her family.