Google is the most widely used search engine across the globe. Nearly 4 billion people use the California-based search engine on multiple platforms. The search engine has over 92% of the market share in the world.
The reason for the popularity of the search engine is because it constantly updates its algorithms, which are a set of codes used as metrics to rank websites on Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). And through the years since the company first came into existence in 1998, there have been plenty of significant changes to how Google ranks websites in its endeavor to provide relevant information to users.
In May 2020, Google announced its Core Web Vitals, a set of algorithms that measure a site's health. A website's health determines the user experience it provides to the people browsing for information online.
These core web vitals have significantly impacted the way websites rank and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. The announcement has made businesses focus on improving their websites per the core web vitals to improve their visibility and brand awareness.
A site's health is determined by user experience, which in turn is a result of the page load speed, visual stability, and interactivity. These metrics are part of the overall value that Google provides to users in terms of the most relevant information and results.
Core web vitals are essential for businesses, marketers, and content creators in bringing organic traffic to their websites.
Google's mission is 'to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful, and for nearly the past two decades, it has been doing the same. From first Florida updates back in 2003 to the Core Web vitals update in 2021, Google has evolved leaps and bounds as the most informative search engine preferred by global users.
Google seeks to answer users' queries by matching the best possible results available on the internet. But, for a good part of the past two decades, the search engine evaluated search intent and preferred high-quality content to deliver the results. It also focussed on mobile friendliness, safety, and other fundamental factors.
The core web vitals is an upgrade from the previous ranking factors that were taken into account by Google. That means that websites that provide a seamless user experience will be rewarded with higher rankings in SERPs than ones that do not.
Google introduced core web vitals as a significant ranking factor for sites. This was taken by the search engine as a way to reward sites with seamless user experience and stability of elements. Google determines page experience by taking into account the following factors:
Although it hasn't been implemented for long, the core web vitals have been estimated by marketers and SEO specialists as one of the most important factors that Google will take into account.
The search engine also pointed out that though core web vitals would be a significant metric among the 200 ranking factors, it still won't supersede high-quality and relevant content. However, if there are multiple pages with similar content, core web vitals would be an essential differentiator for visibility in search results.
The three new core web vitals announced by Google to measure user experience is as follows:
Google's first core web vitals included Largest Contentful Paint or LCP. LCP refers to the average content load time on a web page. It differs from other page speed metrics, which largely determine the site speed.
LCP is used by Google to understand how quickly meaningful content on a web page will load, which includes both texts and media. In other words, it's a measure of how fast the meaningful, visible content on the page loads or how quickly the user can see and interact with a page.
Google's user experience standards dictate that a single web page must have a load speed of under 2.5 seconds, the widely accepted attention span time online. This may be not easy to achieve for complex web pages with multiple heavy elements or features.
LCP differs from page to page, i.e., there is no standard LCP for a complete website. Some pages on your site may have a good LCP, while others may not. A good LCP score ensures a lower bounce rate and user interaction with your content.
Google measures LCP as Good, Needs improvement, and Poor. Good is considered ideal, while you should look to improve your site health if the LCP score rates as poor or needs improvement.
Here are some things you can do to achieve a good LCP score by improving your web page as per the follows:
You can also improve your LCP score by setting-up lazy loading, which means that images and other heavy elements will only load once the user scrolls down the page.
The next metric under the core web vitals is First Input Delay (FID), or the interactivity of a web page. This takes into account the time taken by the user to interact with your page.
The first input consists of the direct actions a user takes after visiting a website, like clicking the menu bar, entering an email address in a field, and clicking a link in the site's navigation. FID is also measured by Google, just like LCP.
An FID score of below 100 milliseconds is considered reasonable by Google, while a score of above 300 milliseconds would have a poor FID score. For websites that have content in the form of text-only, an FID score wouldn't matter as much.
But for websites with rich user interaction features, an FID score is of utmost importance. If you're experiencing a poor FID score for your site, here are some things you can do to improve that:
Cumulative layout shift measures the stability of the website as it loads. If elements on the web page tend to move or shift towards aside, that means you have a high CLS score.
Search engines prefer visual stability as it enhances user experience and aids in your overall SEO efforts.
To minimize your CLS score, you need to:
There are other factors at play here as well which influence user experience. Although these do not constitute an inherent part of user experience, there are still some technical issues that may cause a page to load slower than it should. This could adversely impact how your audience engages with your web page.
First Contentful Paint (FCP)FCP is a reflection of how long does it take for the user's browser to render certain elements. FCP measures render-blocking sources. An FCP of 2 seconds or less is considered ideal, while an FCP of 4+ seconds is deemed poor.
Page Performance ScoreThe page performance score is the sum total of all page experience metrics across mobile and desktop usage. It's kind of an average that tells about the aggregate score of page experience to identify pages that need rectifying.
You can find scores in each category out of a maximum score of 90, which is considered a good score. Below 50 is deemed to be poor.
Google's core web vitals update seeks to quantify user experience whenever they're interacting with a web page. The more seamless their experience on your site is, the higher your website will be ranked in SERPs.
This update was brought in by Google to favor users who are looking for information online. You may have stellar content which is relevant to users for specific keywords, but if your competitors are churning out the same level of content and have optimized their site, keeping core web vitals in mind, the chances are that they take the top spot in Google search results over you.