Ensuring a high-quality, user-friendly experience is crucial to the long-term success of your site. As user experience continues to be highly prioritized, the path to growing your business must include paying attention to Google Core Web Vitals. These metrics allow you another method of checking on the experience your website offers and discovering areas for improvement. Keep reading to learn more about what these metrics are and how to improve Core Web Vitals for your site.
What Are Core Web Vitals?
So, what are Google’s Core Web Vitals, anyway? Before we jump into how to improve Core Web Vitals, let’s first explain what they are so you can understand how they can help. Put simply, Google Core Web Vitals are a set of metrics site owners and marketers can utilize guidance for analyzing site performance.
While Google has introduced many tools that can help a date-driven digital marketing agency take advantage of the newest SEO trends, measure site speed, and more, a common occurrence is that non-professionals may have a harder time understanding their uses and potential. Google Core Web Vitals simplified one method of assessing user experience through site performance, making that data more accessible.
Google Core Web Vitals are made up of three specific page speed and user interaction measurements that affect your site’s SEO. They are:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
- First Input Delay (FID)
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
LCP essentially measures how long a page takes to load content above the fold. . That is, how long a page takes to load the content users see first. Slightly different from other PageSpeed factors, LCP is the time it takes from clicking on a link to being able to see and interact with a page. An easy way to check LCP metrics using the Google PageSpeed Insights tool.
FID is the second of the Google Core Web Vitals you need to pay attention to and measures how long it takes the browser to begin processing the first user interaction on a page. This means it monitors the delay between when a user interacts with something on your page, like clicking a link, choosing a menu option, or opening up an “accordion menu.” First impressions are extremely important, so maintaining a low FID is critical to your overall site success. A high FID can cause bounce rates to skyrocket and decrease the likelihood a user will return to your site.
Last up for Google Core Web Vitals is CLS, which measures visual stability, or how stable a page is as it loads. Have you ever been scrolling through a site only to have it jump as it continues to load? It’s frustrating! If an element of your page jumps as the page loads, you’ve got a high CLS, which is bad. CLS issues are a major factor in high bounce rates, negative user experience, and are likely to result in a negative impact on your site when you’re trying to scale SEO efforts.
How to Improve Core Web Vitals for Your Site
Now that you’ve got an understanding of what these metrics are, let’s take a look at how to improve Core Web Vitals for your site. Whether you’ve retained professional SEO services or are a site owner looking for ways to improve your site and scale your business, you’ll want to see changes for:
- How to decrease Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
- How to reduce First Input Delay (FID)
- How to fix Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
How to Decrease Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
When it comes to how to improve Core Web Vitals, the first place you can start is learning how to decrease Largest Contentful Paint (LCP). LCP can be anything from an image (including a background image in CSS), video, or a block of text. Ideally, your LCP time should be under 2.5 seconds. Statistics have shown that conversion rates drop by an average of 4.42% with each additional second of load time (between seconds 0-5) with the majority of consumers saying slow page load times drastically reduce their likelihood to purchase from a site.
The first method for how to decrease LCP is to get a better hosting server. A slower hosting server and increased server response time, leading to a high LCP. A dedicated server plan may help with faster server response times.
Next, make sure you practice good image SEO. Optimizing your images for your site can help reduce load times. One of the most common causes of a slow page load are images that are too large or the wrong format. Compress, resize, and convert them to the right format. Setting up a responsive site is ideal so it’s resizing elements to fit the screen size being used.
Inlining critical CSS into your head tag to load above the fold and preloading hero images can also help substantially. Hero images are usually the most important attention-grabbing elements above the fold, making fast load times for them critical to improving user experience. Since browsers discover them late, using link rel=preload can improve site performance.
How to Reduce First Input Delay (FID)
Another important step for how to improve Core Web vitals is to reduce First Input Delay (FID). Google has stated that FID is important for quantifying the experience users feel when trying to interact with unresponsive pages. Taking it a step beyond the usual PageSpeed time, FID is measuring how long it takes for users to actually do something to interact with your site, and is therefore critically tied to user experience and overall site performance.
While you may be loving Google Analytics for its ability to help you track site traffic and goals, third-party scripts like that can negatively impact your FID. Third-party scripts can sometimes prevent your own scripts from executing on time, meaning you should delay or remove non-critical third-party scripts to reduce FID.
Minifying and compressing code on your site is a third way for how to improve Core Web Vitals on your site this year. Minification removes superfluous parts from the code such as whitespace or line breaks while compression helps reduce code file size. A good host server or CDN may do this on your behalf by default. Consider this when choosing or changing host servers!
Note: Google announced they are aiming to move towards a better responsiveness metric than FID, so be on the lookout for that in the future.
How to Fix Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
Last up on how to improve Core Web Vitals for your site in 2022 is learning how to fix Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). Keeping elements of your page stable as it loads improves user experience, lowering bounce rates and increasing conversion rates. Important for any device, this is especially important for mobile sites.
The first simple thing you can do to minimize CLS is to add width and height attributes to images and videos on your page. Width and height attributes help the browser allocate the right amount of space for each element in advance which can reduce layout shifts as the page loads.
To help fix CLS and boost your Google Core Web Vitals, you should also make sure ads, iFrames, and dynamic content elements have a reserved space. Just like with images and video, if these elements don’t have enough space, it can cause layout shifts during page load. To avoid these issues and minimize CLS, use containers with proper dimensions and the overflow: hidden CSS property to prevent the content from overflowing its container.
Another easy fix for CLS issues on your site is to avoid adding ads, pop-ups, or other dynamic content over content above the fold. Having excess content at the top of a page causes everything below it to shift, leading to a poor CLS score.
As you can see, Google Core Web Vitals give marketers and site owners the ability to assess user experience to improve site performance. Following this guide, we hope you’ve learned a few ways for how to improve Core Web Vitals for your site this year. Feeling a little overwhelmed? Professional SEO services will provide tactical and actionable feedback while unlocking areas of opportunity for your site. Contact the Visible Factors team and let’s get started!