Google are now placing more emphasis on user experience / page load speed for their organic results algorithm. Many businesses rely on organic traffic for sales, so this is certainly an area that should be taken very seriously by business owner and website developers.

Any business owner with a website knows the importance of maintaining it. After all, websites are all about the user experience, and we know from everyday life how we can be put off by a poor user experience, such as slow page loading or poor layout. This can lead to us clicking off the page and looking elsewhere, and in that instant, a poor user experience can be very damaging to the business.

Google have always recognised this and have always made tools available to help businesses, web developers and marketers. But now they have released “Web Vitals” as unified guidance on the essential elements of web design you need to address to improve the user experience. Google’s intention is to simplify the landscape and offer ways to, if not perfect the user experience, at least improve it or optimise it. The main focus of this is the core web vitals.

Explaining the core web vitals

Essentially the core web vitals are the metrics that should apply to all websites, and therefore be measured by all Google tools. These are metrics that are measurable and are critical to the user experience. The four main core web vitals we recommend optimising:

  • LCP – Largest Contentful Paint – this measures loading performance. To provide a good user experience, LCP should occur within 2.5 seconds of when the page first starts loading.
  • FID – First Input Delay – this measures interactivity. To provide a good user experience, pages should have a FID of less than 100 milliseconds.
  • CLS – Cumulative Layout Shift – this measures visual stability. To provide a good user experience, pages should maintain a CLS of less than 0.1.
  • FCP – First Contentful Paint – measuring from when the page loads until content is initially rendered on screen. A good score is 1.8 seconds or less.

Tools to measure core web vitals

Google has now consolidated its popular tools to deliver ways in which the core web vitals can be measured. The main tool for this is the Chrome User Experience Report. This essentially measures user data for each core web vital in an automated format, and doesn’t require manual analytics for tools such as Page Speed Insights and a core web vital report for Search Consoles.

It is important to note that the Chrome User Experience Report only offers an overview of a site’s performance data. It is not a detailed report and hence does not always identify or diagnose key areas of improvement. Therefore it is recommended that sites set-up real-user monitoring of their own. Each core web vital can also be measured in JavaScript and using lab measurement during development, using tools such as Chrome DevTools and Lighthouse.

Optimising core web vitals

Once you have measured each core web vital on your site, the next step is to optimise the identified areas of improvement. There are various tools available which apply to each of the three core web vitals to enable you to address these issues.

It should be noted, however, that the guidance on core web vitals issued by Google represents the best available signals developers have today. The way we measure the quality of user experiences across the web will change. So making improvements may not deliver the perfect experience, and future additions will be necessary, but it is still strongly recommended.

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