Core Web Vitals: how to improve for the next Google ranking factors

Find out what areas of your website need improvements in user experience by measuring Google's Core Web Vitals and understanding what each of them means.

how to improve for the Google's Core Web Vitals

    Whenever we discuss a good user experience for a website, most people agree it is an important aspect to prioritize. With Google’s Core Web Vitals, we now have a clearer idea of exactly which factors are decisive for quality when building and maintaining a page on the web.

    Offering a positive user experience to your visitors is essential to form a good relationship with them. If your business is unable to do that, you will miss out on several benefits towards your results and goals.

    People will not think twice before choosing a competitor over in case performance issues come their way.

    Another huge benefit of learning and understanding Core Web Vitals is the SEO boost you get from it. After all, Google’s search algorithm prioritizes content that offers good experiences.

    Are you sure your website is doing so? Here is what you will learn in this article about Google’s Core Web Vitals:

    Keep on reading!

    What are Core Web Vitals?

    Core Web Vitals are a group of factors defined as important by Google to determine the overall experience of a web page. It combines elements related to the site’s performance, navigation, and usage to add up a score, which sizes up the quality of its user experience.

    They refer to three important elements that your website should have:

    • loading performance;
    • responsiveness;
    • visual stability.

    Google’s goal with its Core Web Vitals is to contribute with the widespread adoption of quality user experience best practices, as well as to offer actionable metrics that help you measure how your users interact with your website.

    By following these indicators, site owners can improve user page experience through changes recommended by the system itself. This contributes not only to a better overall design but also provides greater chances to a better ranking position in the search engine results page.

    What are the three pillars of page experience?

    To benefit from the Core Web Vitals metrics, you should work with the three pillars of page experience. Those aspects involve most factors related to user’s interactions on your website and understanding what they mean is essential to come up with actionable plans to improve them up.

    By using the right resources — like pagespeed tools — your page’s performance is analyzed by taking these criteria under consideration. Also, your website is graded separately for desktop and mobile experiences.

    Increase your pagespeed with Stage!

    Here are the three pillars of page experience according to Google’s Core Web Vitals.

    Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)

    The first pillar of page experience concerning Core Web Vitals refers to the time interval between the moment a page first loads and when the first block of content is rendered completely in the user’s viewport.

    For example, if your website uses several different kinds of blocks for text, images, and other content, taking too long to render them at the user’s viewpoint might hinder their experience. This is particularly negative for those with slower connection speeds.

    First Input Delay (FID)

    The second pillar in the Core Web Vitals refers to the time it takes for the page to be ready to receive user interactions. Usually, thread-blocking scripts restrict user interactions until all elements are fully loaded so events can be triggered correctly. However, if that takes too long, the user experience is limited.

    Such interactions involve any type of user input such as simply being able to click on elements or even scroll the page. Imagine a login screen that takes too long to load and does not allow the user to enter their information no matter how hard they try.

    Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

    The third and final pillar of Core Web Vitals is a metric that measures the shifting of elements on your web page while they are still being loaded. The more common and intrusive those are, the worse your user experience ends up being. Ideally, your page should load with minimal element shifting.

    This usually happens when a page lacks dimension attributes for its bigger content blocks and media elements if you have dynamically injected content or actions that require a network response. It is possible to avoid this problem by carefully planning and building your page’s blocks with specific dimensions when using responsive web design.

    How to measure these essential aspects of user experience?

    After Google developed the concept of Core Web Vitals, it also provided several tools to offer different ways for site owners to measure their performance based on its user experience pillars. Since those quality signals are universal, you can use any number of platforms to measure your grades and improve them based on personalized advice.

    Here are the most useful platforms you can use to measure your website’s Core Web Vitals.

    Google Search Console

    Your first stop on your mission to measure your website’s page experience should be Google’s own Search Console, which is a helpful tool for those who wish to improve their visibility within search rankings.

    Google Search Console can generate a report on Core Web Vitals which analyzes your pages and gives you a diagnosis based on what it finds. The most critical problems will be highlighted and fixing them should be your top priority.

    This step is important and needs to be the first one since it will point out which pages require most of your attention. Afterward, you can proceed to more specific tools and work on other the highlighted issues.

    Stage Analyzer

    The best way to plan your actions when focusing on improving your Core Web Vitals is to find the right opportunities for improvement on your pages with an effective analyzer. It is even better when it bundles several other tools together.

    That is the goal of Stage Analyzer. Just input your website URL and let it download and analyze all of your pages.

    In the end, you will gain access to a report that highlights the most critical areas that require your attention when user experience is concerned. Both mobile and desktop views are considered so you can start working towards improvements right away.

    PageSpeed Insights

    Another tool by Google, PageSpeed Insights helps determine the quality of your page load speeds as well as point out possible solutions to improve these issues. It grades your user experience based on the Core Web Vitals metrics covered in the pillars section above.

    Unlike the report generated by Google Search Console, PageSpeed Insights offers per-page diagnosis and actionable solutions to improve your loading performance. These tests occur while simulating several browsing conditions, going from the fastest wired connection to spotty mobile data.

    That way you can see which criteria require your attention based on the Core Web Vitals. You also can check if your website passes the Core Web Vitals assessment in its overall grade.

    Chrome Developer Tools

    Those familiar with Chrome Developer Tools (or DevTools) might notice the Performance panel has a new section called Experience. There, you can record the loading process of a web page to detect possible shifting visuals and other issues that might hinder your Core Web Vitals score.

    This tool is useful for those looking to improve their Cumulative Layout Shift metric. The system is capable of listing layout shifts and when they happen while displaying that information on an easy-to-read timeline.

    You can also attempt to measure First Input Delay through the Total Blocking Time tracking, as it counts the time your page’s main thread is blocked to prevent user input.  

    How to improve the subset of Core Web Vitals?

    Learning what Core Web Vitals are is an important first step in improving your website’s experience. By understanding what each metric represents, the path to improving them becomes clearer. While everyone can have a different set of intentions when going into your website, people’s expectations of experience tend to be universal when browsing the web.

    Here are the most important steps to improve your website’s Core Web Vitals broken down by pillar.

    Improving the Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) metric

    Since the LCP metric refers to how long it takes for your page’s main elements to load, your efforts need to focus on optimizing your content so that it renders quickly. There are a few ways to do that, which you can check below.

    Upgrade to a better host

    There are times that LCP can be heavily influenced by the performance of your hosting service. If your content is hosted on slow servers, then it will take longer for your visitors to fully see your pages when opening them.

    Minimize third-party script loading

    Are you sure that every third-party script on your code is necessary? Each one of them is probably slowing down the load time by a considerable margin, which has a noticeable impact on LCP.

    Configure lazy-loading for images

    A great way to decrease strain on the browser when loading web content is to delay image loading until they are in the user’s viewport. This is called lazy-loading and can help improve your LCP.

    Improving the First Input Delay (FID) metric

    If your user is unable to interact with your site for too long while it loads, their experience is severely hindered. This includes clicking on links, scrolling down the page, picking options on a menu, and others. Fortunately, there are a couple of actions you can execute to minimize this issue. Learn more about them below.

    Work with browser cache

    Since it is rare for the same page to load a different JavaScript file each time, you can rely on the browser cache for a faster load that allows interactivity. That way, the most important information on your website is locally saved on your visitor’s computer.

    Minimize JavaScript loading

    Another way to stop JavaScript from dropping your FID rating is to minimize its impact during the load process or defer it. This is important since your user usually cannot interact with your content at this stage.

    Uninstall unnecessary scripts

    As with improving LCP, you also get a positive impact on FID when cleaning up unnecessary third-party scripts on your website. After all, loading them can block your user from interacting with your content.

    Improving the Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) metric

    Aiming for stability while your content loads is essential to a good grade in the CLS metric. You’ll want your elements to move as little as possible while on the user’s viewport and there are a few steps to contribute to that. You can learn more about it below.

    Configure set size attributes for elements

    Most of the time the content shifts while loading because the user’s browser does not know their size. You can solve that by setting a fixed size for your media blocks so that the browser already knows the basic structure as soon as the page starts loading.

    Plan for above and below the fold

    While designing your interface, remember to consider what your user first sees above the fold, which is the viewport section before scrolling down. That part needs extra attention to keep your CLS metric up. Additional elements should be added to the below the fold section instead of being “pushed” there by your load process.

    Avoid dynamic content usage

    Shifts can also happen whenever dynamic content loads according to various triggers. It can severely hinder your user’s experience, even contributing to them clicking on the wrong section.

    For instance, if you wish to display ads on your website, make sure to have a reserved spot for them instead of having them load dynamically. 

    Focusing your efforts on improving the user experience on your website is not a subjective effort. Thanks to metrics such as Core Web Vitals, we are now able to grasp what factors influence website quality and improve your audience’s interactions with your business.

    Consider the information in this article to plan the right actions and enjoy better results with your digital presence.

    Would you like to quickly learn about the opportunities for improving your website? Then, use Stage Analyzer and get ahead of the competition!

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