As of 2021, Google’s recently announced Core Web Vitals will be counted as ranking signals. In the course of this, these new signals are combined with the already known factors for the page experience such as mobile-friendliness, HTTPS use and the absence of interstitials. But what exactly are the Core Web Vitals that are making SEOs and international marketing agencies sit up and take notice more and more often? We explain what the new ranking signals are all about.
WHAT ARE THE CORE WEB VITALS?
WEBSITE MEASUREMENTS OF PERFORMANCE AND UX
The Core Web Vitals are three different metrics that Google uses to evaluate the user experience on a website:
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – Page Load
First Input Delay (FID) – Interactivity on one page
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) – visual stability of the page
With these key figures, website operators and SEOs can classify and evaluate the user experience on a website and identify potential for improvement.
LARGEST CONTENTFUL PAINT (LCP)
The Largest Contentful Paint specifies the time until the largest content element of the page is displayed in the visible area of the user. When evaluating the LCP, for example, images, thumbnail graphics, videos, block-level elements (paragraphs), lists and headings are taken into account.
To optimize the LCP:
Speed up page speed for image and video resources. Compress images and then upload them to the size you actually need. Often a Content Delivery Network (CDN) also helps
Preload images, videos and scripts using rel=”preload” and integrate critical CSS files inline.
Reduce the server’s response time. It may be worth switching to a faster web host.
Note: Google considers a duration of more than 2.5 seconds to be in need of optimization. Over 4 seconds are already considered bad.
FIRST INPUT DELAY (FID)
The FID indicates the time that passes from the user’s first interaction with the website to the browser’s response. This can be, for example, a click on a link, a button or a menu item.
To optimize the FID:
Note: Google rates a FID of less than 100 milliseconds as good. Delays between 200 and 300 milliseconds, on the other hand, are considered to require optimization.
CUMULATIVE LAYOUT SHIFT (CLS)
The CLS indicates the extent to which the layout of the website shifts during the loading phase. Its value is between 0 (no displacement) and 1 (strongest displacement). Page elements that shift during an interaction with the website degrade usability and are therefore not user-friendly.
To optimize the CLS:
Add sizes (width and height) for images and videos. This will reserve the appropriate space when the page loads. The users do not experience any subsequent shifting of the page contents.
Also define fixed sizes for banners and do not place them in the visible area. This also prevents layout shifts.
We also recommend fixed sizes for widgets and iFrames. Never replace content elements with a new element unless the user has made an appropriate selection and wants it that way.
Avoid layout shifts caused by loading web fonts.
Note: Google classifies a CLS above 0.1 as in need of optimization. Values above 0.25 are considered bad.
In addition to the Core Web Vitals, other factors influence the loading speed. A website optimized for mobile devices and HTTPS encryption also play a decisive role:
HOW TO MEASURE CORE WEB VITALS
INTERPRETING SIGNALS AND IDENTIFYING POTENTIAL FOR IMPROVEMENT
For SEOs and multilingual marketing agencies, there are now many ways to measure the Core Web Vitals. Even if you are not a performance expert yourself, you should know how to interpret the metrics in the tools: The challenge lies above all incorrectly assessing the measured data with regard to the Core Web Vitals and optimizing the usability of the website accordingly.
The following tools give an insight into the Core Web Vitals of a website:
Chrome UX Report
Web Vitals Extension
CORE WEB VITALS AND SEO
In the future, the new Core Web Vitals will be used in Google rankings as a benchmark for loading time and performance. Therefore, it is important for website operators and SEOs to check the three core metrics in a timely manner and, if necessary, to optimize them. A detailed documentation from Google helps to understand the evaluation of the individual criteria and to learn how exactly you can improve websites with regard to the criteria. The fact that Google informs about the experience update at an early stage, expands its analysis tools and provides documentation illustrates the urgency of optimized Core Web Vitals. However, website owners and SEOs should keep in mind that Google continues to favor those pages in ranking that deliver the most relevant and high-quality content overall. For pages with a similar added value in terms of content, on the other hand, the page experience is decisive for the ranking.
PREPARE FOR PAGE EXPERIENCE WITH OPTIMIZED CORE WEB VITALS
Google provided early review tools and detailed documentation of the new Core Web Vitals. It is therefore absolutely likely that these parameters will influence the website ranking in the future. Webmasters and SEOs should therefore adapt promptly to the new ranking factor page experience and improve the Core Web Vitals accordingly as part of the search engine optimization.