In mid-June, Google plans to launch what it has dubbed the Page Experience update.
Google’s updates can have a significant impact on online businesses, as they often lead to a shift in search rankings.
In the case of the Page Experience update, Google will aim to reward sites that offer visitors a good experience.
It will do this by adding its “Core Web Vitals” into existing search signals relating to page experience.
What are Google’s Core Web Vitals?
The three Core Web Vitals are Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID), and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS).
This might sound confusing, but all three elements are essentially related to how quickly a site loads and how soon a visitor can start interacting with a page.
The below image shows how Google proposes to integrate these Core Web Vitals with its existing page experience signals.
In this section, we’ll take a closer look at these three components of Core Web Vitals and how they will be changing as search signals for page experience.
Loading: Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) measures the loading time for the main content of a web page. A fast LCP quickly provides people with the information they’re requesting to ensure a helpful experience. Slow loading times and high LCP scores may produce a frustrating experience when seeking information.
What is a good LCP score?
Google considers a good user experience to be a LCP score of 2.5 seconds or less. A poor user experience is defined by a LCP score of 4.0 seconds or more. Any LCP score between 2.5 seconds and 4.0 seconds is a user experience that needs improvement.
How can you find out your LCP score?
The easiest way is to utilize PageSpeed Insights, a Google tool that analyzes the content of a web page and generates suggestions to make that page faster.
For a more reliable analysis of LCP, the Core Web Vitals report in Google Search Console uses real-world usage data (field data based on real user metrics) to show URL performance grouped by status (Good, Needs Improvement or Poor).
How can you improve your LCP score?
The most common loading issues for small business websites include things like slow server response times, large file sizes, or long load times for critical resources. Addressing these issues and specific suggestions made by PageSpeed Insights should help improve an LCP score and loading times.
Interactivity: First Input Delay (FID)
First Input Delay (FID) measures the interactivity time between user action and a browser response. A fast FID quickly lets people interact with a website to ensure that a web page is usable.
Slow interactivity times and high FID scores may prevent people from completing actions like purchasing, signing in, or clicking on buttons.
What is a good FID score?
Google considers a good user experience to be an FID score of 100 ms (milliseconds), or less than a tenth of a second. A poor user experience is defined by an FID score of 300 milliseconds, or more than a third of a second. Any FID score between 100 milliseconds and 300 milliseconds is a user experience that needs improvement.
How can you find out your FID score?
Since FID is a field metric, a real user interaction is required to produce an FID score. However, the Chrome User Experience Report tool can provide real-world FID values aggregated at the origin level.
In addition, to help site owners get better visibility into FID, PageSpeed Insights is starting to display First Input Delay into reports based on a 28-day collection period.
How can you improve your FID score?
Visual Stability: Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) measures visual stability by analyzing content layout shifts in a viewport.
High CLS scores may indicate sudden shifts of content, which can lead to poor user experiences such as clicking on the wrong thing because the content the user was aiming to click on has moved.
What is a good CLS score?
Google considers a good user experience to be a CLS score of 0.1 or less. A poor user experience is defined by a CLS score of 0.25 or more. Any CLS score between 0.1 and 0.25 is a user experience that needs improvement.
How can you find out your CLS score?
Fortunately, Google provides easy to understand CLS scores through PageSpeed Insights. Chrome Development tools also have a Performance Panel feature that highlights cumulative layout shifts in a Summary view to provide a score for areas on a website.
How can you improve your CLS score?
The most common visual stability issues for small business websites may include things like specifying image dimensions, assigning static space for ads or inserting dynamic content above existing content.
Addressing these issues and identifying elements impacting CLS in Chrome Developer tools should help stabilize content.
What does Google’s Core Web Vitals mean for small business owners with websites?
Providing a quality user experience to website visitors is important for the long-term success of any small business. Whether you own a small business, do digital marketing or develop websites, Core Web Vitals is an opportunity to improve customer experience and perhaps gain a boost in search engine rankings.
Core Web Vitals may seem very technical, but the guidance behind improving page experience should enable a small business to focus on the metrics that matter most. While those metrics will evolve over time as search engines gain more confidence in the data, Core Web Vitals is a starting place to improve user experience.
It’s understandable that small business owners have a variety of questions about Core Web Vitals and technical SEO. The important thing is to begin taking steps to improve your website experience. The Core Web Vitals update may take years to fully impact search rankings, just like official algorithm updates around HTTPS, Mobile-First and Safe Browsing have shown.
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