#185: How To Optimise Your Website For Core Web Vitals Update (2021)

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In This Episode…

As SEO and digital marketing professionals, at Exposure Ninja, we are at the mercy of Google.

Even minor changes to their platforms and algorithms can make a huge difference in the performance of our clients’ websites and how they rank. Google makes these changes like clockwork, and like clockwork, SEOs can get caught off guard. We know it’s coming…

Google already announced that the Core Web Vitals will become ranking metrics starting in May 2021. With this update, we know that Google will combine Core Web Vitals and previous user experience-related metrics in order to rank websites on their search engine results pages.

But what does this actually mean for website owners?

What is Web Core Vitals and Why is it Important?

Core Web Vitals is part of Google’s Page Experience Score (along with mobile-friendliness, HTTPS, Interstitial Pop-Ups and other features). From May 2021, Google is encouraging every website owner to obey a new standard of page experience for its users by feeding this information into their search ranking algorithm.

Those websites that comply with these new standards will have an advantage over their competitors who don’t, by gaining higher search engine results page rankings and, in turn, more traffic and conversions.

Based on the fact that Google has given us all a fair amount of warning with regards to this update, it can be assumed that it is a fairly important one. That being said, it is highly unlikely that you will see your website drop off the search engine results pages overnight. As someone commented recently in one of our Friday Live Workshops, Google itself isn’t actually perfect in regards to its new metrics.

So no need to start panicking.

Whilst page experience is expected to become more significant, in Google’s words, “a good page experience doesn’t override having great, relevant content”. This means that while these changes are likely to have some impact if your website still has great quality content, it is unlikely to suffer any huge ranking losses.

Let’s take a deep-dive into the three core web vitals metrics that Google will be adding to its algorithm.

Largest Contentful Paint

The first metric is Largest Contentful Paint, also called LCP, which, despite the confusing name, essentially answers the question: how fast does the page load in the viewport – otherwise known as the screen you’re looking at – your phone, tablet, or desktop.

In other words, websites with slow content-loading times (anything over 2.5 seconds) are likely to be penalised by Google, as this impacts the user experience on the webpage.

Using the tools Search Console or PageSpeed Insights, you can see real-world data from Google Chrome User Experience Report on how quickly your website content loads and whether it will pass Google’s new test.

Areas of your site which are likely to impact this metric and slow your site loading speed include:

  • A high quantity of images
  • Large amounts of third-party scripts (including Google ones)
  • Long pages with lots of different sections

Cumulative Layout Shift

You know when you’re browsing down a page and all of a sudden the text moves?

It’s super annoying.

It’s often that a slider or an ad unit that is resizing to fit the content that loads into it. This is known as a layout shift and brings us on to the next metric.

The second metric is Cumulative Layout Shift or CLS (because we all NEED more acronyms!), which measures visual stability. Visual stability is all about whether elements on the page shift in ways that users might not expect and maybe even mess up their interactions with the site.

Each time there’s a layout shift, Google gives that a score. I’m not going to explain how it’s calculated because we will both die of boredom, but it is important to know that the total score for each page is the cumulative layout shift score.

With the new update, your score needs to be below 0.1 to pass Core Web Vitals, and you can check it in the PageSpeed Insights tool.

First Input Delay

The third metric is First Input Delay (which you’ll see referred to as FID). This one measures the time from when a user first interacts with a page, such as clicking a like or a button, to when the browser is actually able to begin processing responses to interactions.

It is essentially the time it takes your website to start acting when a user clicks or interacts with an aspect of your site.

FID is NOT how long your website takes to give its response or how long it takes to give the user visual feedback. That’s a misunderstanding. Your website does not need to load instantaneously or even show the user their input instantaneously. It’s how long it takes your website to actually respond.

With the new update, Google wants your First Input Delay to be 100 milliseconds.

Actions You Can Take

In order to optimise your website for this Core Web Vitals update, the first step is to turn your website through the PageSpeed Insights and see where it’s failing you. You can then pinpoint which metrics your website isn’t sizing up against and improve upon them.

This might include reducing the file size of images on your website with tools like ShortPixel. You can also remove any third-party plug-ins from your site that are not being used, and consider finding an alternative hosting platform if you’re on a slow server or a server that isn’t optimised for your type of website.

We encourage you to fix all issues to win Google’s favour and power up your ranking potential before May 2021.

Find Out More

Watch or listen to the video or podcast to gain further insight into how you can optimise your website for the core vitals update. If you want more suggestions and advice, then request a free review of your website via this link: https://exposureninja.com/review/

Timestamps

00:00 — Introduction
02:07 — What is Core Web Vitals?
03:00 — How Important is Core Web Vitals?
04:27 — Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
10:08 — First Input Delay (FID)
12:09 — Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
13:51 — Actions To Take

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