What You Need to Know About Google’s Next Big Ranking Signal - Core Web Vitals

Aug 04, 2020

It doesn’t always happen with Google Algorithm updates, but this time, Google is giving webmaster’s quite a bit of advance notice about some upcoming key changes. These additions to the algorithm, announced earlier this year, are known as Core Web Vitals. Google has stated that the new ranking signals are not scheduled to launch until at least next year.

What are Core Web Vitals?

Core Web Vitals are all about improving user experience on the web. Google defines the following three metrics as Core Web Vitals:

  1. Loading | Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): The amount of time to render the largest content element visible in the viewport, from when the user requests the URL. The largest element is typically an image or video, or perhaps a large block-level text element. This is important because it tells the reader that the URL is actually loading. Google defines 2.5 seconds or less as a “Good” time.
  2. Interactivity | First Input Delay (FID): The time from when a user first interacts with your page (when they clicked a link, tapped on a button, and so on) to the time when the browser responds to that interaction. This measurement is taken from whatever interactive element that the user first clicks. This is important on pages where the user needs to do something, because this is when the page has become interactive. Google defines .1 seconds or less as a “Good” time.
  3. Visual Stability | Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): The amount that the page layout shifts during the loading phase. The score is rated from 0–1, where zero means no shifting and 1 means the most shifting. This is important because having pages elements shift while a user is trying to interact with it is a bad user experience. Google defines a score of .1 seconds or less as a “Good” score.

How can you evaluate your website’s Core Web Vitals?

The easiest way to quickly grade a web page’s core web vitals is by using the Web Vitals Chrome Extension. Once installed, it will grade your page on each of the three metrics as Good, Needs Improvement or Poor.

Web Vitals Chrome Extension

How can you improve your Core Web Vitals?

Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool is an excellent resource for improving your site’s speed and usability. It gives you a detailed breakdown of your Core Web Vitals scores as well as suggestions for fixes to improve your page. Samples are shown below:

Core Web Vitals Overview

Opportunities for improvement with documentation

If your site scores low on one or more of these key metrics, we recommend that you consult with a web developer to determine the most efficient path to improvement as there may be multiple avenues to achieve improved results.

Although Google won’t officially start incorporating Core Web Vitals in its search algorithm until next year, it’s never too early to start improving the user experience on your website. We’re here to help. Contact Bob Goricki for more information on how to improve your website experience today.