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A Guide to Core Web Vitals and What They Mean About Website Health

| Kaitlin Farris |

Google’s Core Web Vitals are a hot SEO topic. The update to Google’s algorithm began in June 2021. If you’ve seen declines in your rankings since this time, read on for a guide to how these changes may impact you.

What are Core Web Vitals?

Core Web Vitals are a way that Google analyzes your website’s user experience. The largest factors in these vitals are page speed and load time. But within these two aspects of core vitals you’ll need to consider:

  1. Largest contentful paint (LCP)
  2. First input delay (FID)
  3. Cumulative layout shift (CLS)

We’ll explain what these three terms mean and how you can improve them to earn back your SEO rankings following this change to Google’s algorithm.

Largest contentful paint (LCP)

LCP measures how many seconds it takes from when a page begins loading to when the largest image or block of text shows on the user’s screen so that the user can interact with the content.

This Core Web Vital does not focus on the time it takes for the full page to load. While that metric is important, it is separate from LCP.

Here’s what you need to know about LCP and how Google reviews it to impact your rankings:

  • According to the new algorithm, your site’s LCP should be 2.5 seconds or faster.
  • Quality hosting on fast servers will be the most essential element in improving your LCP.
  • Poorly sized images or images that are extremely large are some of the biggest factors in your website’s LCP. Scale the images before uploading them to optimize this part of your website.

First input delay (FID)

FID measures the time it takes before a visitor’s first action on the site. Websites generally load from the top down, meaning a user can interact with the website before it fully loads. That way, users don’t have to sit there until everything is ready if they have a general idea of what they’re looking for.

Interactions could be button or link clicks, hovering over a dropdown, using a menu to navigate to another page or several other on-page actions. Google sees this as an important statistic because it provides even more details about the user experience on your website.

Here’s what you need to know about FID according to Google’s algorithm change.

  • Your FID should be 100 milliseconds or faster
  • JavaScript loading is generally the largest factor in FID. Having your website load the JavaScript only when needed can help speed up your FID and avoid blocking interactions on the page.

Cumulative layout shift (CLS)

CLS takes place when elements shift during page load. You might have experienced this when loading a page where an element shows up in one place at first, and then shifts as the page loads. It can be very frustrating for users because they try to click on one thing and end up clicking something else because everything shifted.

Here’s what you need to know about Google’s algorithm change and CLS:

  • Your CLS should be .1 or less
  • Poor coding is the main contributor to this issue on websites. When code is poor, it can change dimensions for images or videos. Or it can keep web fronts from loading.

Unsure whether Core Web Vitals are contributing to your lackluster SEO performance? Contact us for a free quote.