Posted by Cameron Francis on 18 Jul , 2022 in
Core Web Vitals are vital real-world systems of measurement that are used to measure user experiences on the web and consist of three metrics:
In May 2020, Google announced that Core Web Vitals (CWVs) would be added to their Page Experience update, making them a ranking factor.
While page experience signals for mobile have been in use since May 2021, it’s not until February 2022 that they were adopted to the desktop version.
While different camps have varying opinions about the impact Core Web Vitals have on rankings, these metrics provide measurable ways of assessing user experiences that go beyond search ranking.
Ensuring your web pages always offer an exceptional experience is crucial to satisfying your users’ needs once they land on one of your pages and completing your goals as a business.
Core Web Vitals (CWVs) are a set of metrics that help web developers and designers understand how web users experience web pages.
However, while Core Web Vitals were created for developers, they still can be used by anyone who owns a website because they help define how users experience a page in the real world.
Core Web Vitals help identify issues users might be experiencing on a page by generating metrics for three primary user experience areas.
THESE AREAS INCLUDE:
All of these metrics provide unique perspectives on various elements that affect how users engage and interact with a website.
While web developers need to approach and think about the “user experience” from a more holistic perspective, Core Web Vitals help break down the variables into manageable pieces that site owners can use to detect and fix different technical problems and issues across their websites.
While these metrics do not tell the whole story about a website’s user experience, each measurement can still be used to help web developers troubleshoot issues more methodically and efficiently.
For all metrics mentioned, Google identified appropriate thresholds that correspond to varying scores. Google’s thresholds for Core Web Vitals are:
For improved chances of reaching the targets set by Google, users are advised to aim for at least 75 per cent of page views to, at least, be within the “good” threshold for the three mentioned metrics.
The purpose of this measurement is to ensure that pages provide a great user experience regardless of network conditions and the device used.
It is also worth noting that every page’s Core Web Vitals metrics are measured except in cases where a page doesn’t have enough data.
When that’s the case, the page’s score might be inferred from the entire website or some sections of the website. Working on improving core web vital metrics is a serious aspect of search engine optimisation that should not be neglected.
These metrics are comprised of three particular page speed and user interaction measurements.
Largest Contentful Paint identifies how long it takes a web page to load its main content. The main content here refers to the hero video, image, or a large section of text.
The measurement for the largest contentful paint is derived from content situated above the fold – what people visiting the page see first after loading a web page.
NOTE: In some instances, the largest element changes as the web page loads.
For example, the layout may change, or content may be added to the Document Object Model, causing the largest element to move from its main viewport. Subsequently, another element on the page could also be considered the largest.
A related measurement is FCP or First Contentful Paint, which refers to the time taken by browsers to display the first element of document object model content after a person visits a web page.
Here’s a look at Google’s threshold for Largest Contentful Paint:
IMPORTANT!!! LCP should take place within 2.5 seconds from the moment a web page starts to load for it to provide the best experience.
The higher the LCP and the longer it takes for elements to load, the longer users will have to wait for page elements to render.
This impacts their experience and increases their likelihood of closing the page and going somewhere else.
A study conducted by Ahrefs found that the Largest Contentful Paint seems to be the most challenging and complex metric to improve compared to Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) and First Input Delay (FID).
It is worth noting that LCP scores generally do not favour mobile devices, and that could be due to CPU limitations and a slower internet connection.
Here are a few recommendations on how to optimise your largest contentful paint score:
First Input Delay measures how long it takes for web users to interact with a web page with common interactions including actions such as:
For some web pages, the first input delay can’t be measured or reported. This is quite common in web pages that only contain text content like blogs where the only interactions with web pages entail pinching the screen to zoom or scrolling.
FID is crucial for web pages that require vital interactions, such as sign-up or login pages.
Here are Google’s thresholds for First Input Delay:
To improve your First Input Delay score, aim for a delay of no more than 100 milliseconds to provide your users with the best user experience.
Exceeding this threshold could hamper your users’ ability to interact with your web page quickly.
Here’s a look at ways to optimise your FID score:
This metric measures the number of unexpected shifts in the layout of a web page and its visual stability. Shifts in a page layout generally occur when visible elements modify their initial positions between frames.
Since these shifts impact the user experience negatively, it’s vital to ensure that web pages maintain a CLS Value of 0.1 or less for the best user experience.
Here’s a look at Google’s thresholds for CLS:
NOTE: CLS only involves existing elements that shift from their original position.
If a new attribute is added to the web page or an already existing one modifies its size, that isn’t considered a layout shift – unless the element’s original position gets altered.
Here’s a look at ways to improve your CLS score:
While CWVs play a vital role in Google’s user experience measurement, the measurements are combined with a host of different variables to create a more general user experience score.
While Core Web Vitals represent the lion’s share of the user experience score, the score itself is influenced by a variety of factors, including:
While these factors play a small but vital role in improving a website’s or web page’s user experience score, CWVs have a major effect on how your user experience is ranked.
The factors mentioned above are essential and need to be considered when planning your content and site, but if your CWV scores are underperforming, your overall search engine optimisation ranking will be too.
A Google Webmasters Central Blog post published in 2020 reiterates the importance of improving page experience to build a better web.
Google has already factored page load times and mobile-friendliness in its experience criteria, while, on the other hand, its Chrome team recently announced that Core Web Vitals are the next metric for measuring user experience.
Core Web Vitals measure the load speed, responsiveness, and visual stability of web pages, enabling businesses and brands to evaluate and optimise their site experiences.
They also provide Google’s algorithm with new measurements to evaluate user experiences and rank sites accordingly.
CWVs have increasingly become important because:
There are several things that you need to consider when it comes to improving your core web vitals metrics. While there are many things that you could do to improve your metrics, it’s worth noting that the specific actions you need to take to boost your scores will be determined by your test results. As such, you still should consider the recommendations and suggestions provided by the testing tools you use such as PageSpeed Insights.
Ways to effectively improve your CWV scores include:
Alternatively, you can configure your website’s setting so that CSS loads “above-the-fold content” (elements of a page that appear first) much faster. To do this, simply take your content out of the primary CSS file and inline it into your code.
When choosing fonts for your website, you must be very selective. If you plan on using several fonts, then make sure you remove them from some of your elements and only use global fonts to apply the needed weights and types. Doing so will help ensure that only the needed fonts are downloaded and loaded.
While there are currently many ways and options to measure Core Web Vitals, Google continues to develop and expand the number of CWV measurement tools for the convenience of web developers and website owners. At the moment, the company offers six different tools designed to evaluate and analyse Largest Contentful Paint, First Input Delay, and Cumulative Layout Shift. These include:
Google Lighthouse measures how quickly apps or websites load and how quickly web users view or access the content. The tool’s performance score is graded on a 0-100 scale and is aimed at portraying a web page’s loading speed. When testing pages and sites, Lighthouse returns various scores for different audit groups – SEO, Accessibility, Performance, and Best Practices. As of Google Lighthouse 9.0, the tool’s Performance Score is calculated according to the following weights and metrics:
One thing is certain, Core Web Vitals are here to stay and Google will continue refining them in the years to come. According to some reliable sources, the search engine company intends to update its Page Experience component annually, meaning that, in the future, Core Web Vitals metrics will be documented the same way as the initial signal rollout. Here is what you can expect from this moment onwards:
CWV metrics have become quite essential to search engine ranking over the last couple of years with millions of site owners and websites having put in a lot of work to improve their page speed, responsiveness, and performance. That being said, Google’s latest CWV metrics are far more explicit, particularly when it comes to quantification. As a result, website owners and developers will soon be required by the search engine’s algorithm to improve in areas they are failing in so that they can maintain their search rankings.
Improving CWVs is not an easy job due to the complexity of different SEO ranking factors and the amount of time it takes to build positive core web vitals. That is why it is recommended that you start with improving your website’s user experience in accordance with Google’s guidelines today since the tools are available and easily accessible. Furthermore, Google could deliver its promised six-month notice any time from now.
What score do you need to pass Core Web Vitals?
To make improvements with your mobile or desktop device Core Web Vitals and pass Google’s web page assessment, your website must be below the thresholds for all three major metrics. If you’re above Google’s defined levels for more than one CWV metric, your site won’t pass the CWV assessment. Following is the pass rate levels for each Core Web Vitals metric:
What is Page Experience?
Page experience refers to a set of signals that measure how a user perceives the experience of interacting with a page beyond its true information value on both desktop and mobile devices. It includes the visual stability of the web page, core web vitals, and interactivity. It also includes already-existing search signals such as intrusive interstitial guidelines, HTTPS, and mobile-friendliness.
What is the difference between page experience and core web vitals?
The main difference between core web vitals and page experience is that the page experience metrics measure how interactive and user-friendly web pages are while core web vitals metrics measure the web page’s user experience.
How does Core Web Vitals handle fluctuations in the performance of a website?
Google utilises a 75th percentile value across all web page views to determine the page’s overall performance. What that means is if 75 per cent of all a web page’s views meet the threshold, it is given the green light and that specific CWV metric is considered “good”. The company has also stated that it will use the remaining 25 per cent to assess a web page’s poor performance. In simpler terms, if 25 per cent of page views don’t meet the performance threshold ascribed to them, that particular web page is classed as “poor”.
In PageSpeed Insights, field data (which is a URL’s historic data) uses twenty-eight days of aggregated data while Chrome User Experience Report’s dashboard makes use of data from the preceding month. While the timeframes don’t necessarily align, it does show that Google most likely uses an aggregated score when data sets are available.
Is there a difference between lab data and field data in Core Web Vitals reports?
The field data from CWVs is a historical report detailing how a specific URL has performed over a period and represents anonymised web performance data from real web users on various network conditions and devices. CWV field data is gathered from real-life users who’ve opted into synchronising their browsing data, have usage statistic reporting enabled, and have not set up a synchronisation passphrase. Field data is primarily used for ranking by/on Google
CWV lab data, on the other hand, refers to data that’s collected based on simulated page loads on one device under fixed network conditions. Due to this, the values between field data and lab data may differ.
Will Core Web Vitals impact all my regional sites?
Yes, in a sense they will. This algorithm update won’t be rolled out in phases like other times, (typically starts in America); instead, it will roll out as a global update.
Continually improving your website’s user experience is essential to ensuring that you maintain a successful website. And with the aid of some handy plugins and tools available today, the process of improving your UX becomes a lot easier than before.
Nevertheless, if you still need the help of a Core Web Vitals expert, the team at ETRAFFIC has the expertise, skills, and knowledge required to help ensure your CWV improvements and other web design projects are done properly through our web development services.
To learn more about Core Web Vitals metrics and how they can help enhance the user experience of your website, please call us at ETRAFFIC today at 1300 887 151 or book a free strategy session below.