Google’s Core Web Vitals are a set of metrics relating to a website. The search giant has a free online tool that can scan a home page (or individual pages) to determine a score for these Core Web Vitals. Scores are split into two sets, one for desktop users and the other for mobile users.
While there are currently three main metrics to be aware of, the number will be expanding with more planned for the future. Inside the Google Console, website owners can view the latest scoring both for Page Experience (a usability metric) and the Core Web Vitals too. Basically, as a site owner, the most important thing is to ensure that the visitor has the best possible experience, just like a shopper walking into a brick and mortar store.
Currently, three main metrics are determined through a review of the website’s performance. These are covered below.
LCP – Largest Contentful Paint
Google is interested in gauging site speed not just from the perspective of rapid loading, but also from the experience when accessing the site.
The Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) refers to the element on the page that requires the most time to load and is seen as the heaviest. This is usually either a graphical image, an image slider, or a video background/embedded video. The concern is that a larger image requiring too long to load will slow the rendering of the site; it won’t fully display in the browser window.
To work on improving Core Web Vitals scores, it’s best to speak to the professionals. They will have worked on many websites to rectify poor metrics and create a better user experience. Trying to do it yourself is quite frustrating.
Sometimes, the solution is quite simple, like loading an optimization plugin for WordPress. In other cases, there is a need to hire a developer that would go through the existing code to figure out what the largest contentful paint is and then fix it.
FID – First Input Delay
First Input Delay (FID) refers to the time it takes for the first visual element to show in the viewport of the PC or mobile device. It is seen as a metric that provides some clue as to when the site began to “come alive” as far as the visitor was concerned.
Too much time elapsing between entering the website’s URL and seeing the beginning of the page or site loading is bad. The visitor may hit their Back button to return to the search results, which Google wishes to avoid.
CLS – Cumulative Layout Shift
The Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) refers to a situation where when a page loads, elements on it keep shifting position until eventually coming to a rest when loading is complete.
Most often, this is observed when either images or advertising are loading in. It usually occurs when the width and height aren’t specified for an image or a video. In this scenario, the web browser isn’t sure how much blank space to allow for it. The result is the space either being too small or large, respectively. Due to this, columns, margins, and blocks of text keep shifting around during the loading time.
By ensuring all the media elements are configured correctly, the CLS is significantly reduced. Unfortunately, this is something many business owners have no idea about. For instance, they might use their own phone to check the website. For them, the view is perfect so they think this will be the case for everyone else. In reality, other users might have the CLS problem and they will end up with a version of the site that is not at all easy to use. Google notices that and can penalize the website.
Google is now using Core Web Vitals scores as one way to assess whether a website provides a good experience for the searcher. When a competing site is rated similarly, a better Web Vitals score could lead to a higher ranking. Therefore, scoring well for these metrics is important for search ranking and organic traffic.
It needs to be added that more and more metrics are identified by developers and SEO specialists from all around the world. Core Web Vitals are purposefully hidden by Google but this does not mean we will not figure out what most of them are in the future. This is why it is always important to hire a professional whenever you see something wrong. They will be aware of what needs to be done in order to make your site rank as high as possible in search results.