The world of front end and back end web development has definitely changed in the past couple of years. With more and more programming languages being researched and developed, topped up by a whole new level of architecture and hardware to accompany such new infrastructures. In 2020, the gap between marketing and its more technical side (mainly UX and other forms of front end related matters) has thinned way more than in the past couple of years, with the brightest example being Core Web Vitals. What are those? How can developers optimise them in order to achieve better results from an SEO perspective? Let’s find out.
Page Insights, Revamped.
The whole purpose behind Google Core Web Vitals is the creation of metrics which should and could give website owners predictions and insights on how the users are valuing their experience on your site/application, with numerical values which could be reported to any department within your company. The idea started when Google decided that their old “page insights” was a bit outdated, and was in much need for a change, or update, to say it better. The old page insight metrics have, in fact, been separated in 3 small categories which give extremely tangible metrics on individual, crucial parts of your website experience. These three parts could also be embedded in your analytical platform (not just Google Analytics) to be presented as a detailed report.
LCP, FID, CLS: What Are Those?
The new core vitals divide into three categories:
- Large Contentful Paint
- First Input Delay
- Cumulative Layout Shift
Each and every one of these provides insights on a specific part of your user experience and their interaction with your landing page(s). It’s extremely important to evaluate which one of these is the most impactful for your website’s performance.
- Large Contentful Paint was the original “TTFB” on Lighthouse and it refers to how quickly users could use the largest piece of content on your site (with “use” we intend reading content, click on a link or anything else on a page). This metric is vital for eCommerce sites, given the reasonably high click-through rate they achieve on a landing page.
- First Input Delay (as a metric) is pretty straight forward: it represents the timeframe it takes for you to land on a specific location of the site after you’ve interested with a link or a button. This comes in handy when enquiries-focused sites have multiple contact forms and they are looking to implement more of those. A lower FID will basically ensure success in your enquiry funnel.
- Cumulative Layout Shift refers to a complex, overall look at how your user experience is set up on a landing page: for example, if your access is limited for people who are colourblind, then Google may penalise your site’s rankings if the topic you’re covering is falling within the EAT algorithm switch we’ve seen in 2018.
How Can I Optimise Them?
What About Mobile?
The focus of the core vitals update was definitely targeting the mobile world. In the UK, recently elected as the European powerhouse for mobile technology, a team of app developers has stated how core vitals as a development topic has risen over AI and Machine Learning in the past month for their projects, which is pretty insane considering how “young” these procedures are. Mobile has become the focus of Google’s algorithmic development since the vast majority of internet traffic nowadays comes from mobile devices. The very sample principles stated above are working for your site’s mobile version as well, with the only difference being the fact that, for mobile, speed amounts in a much more tangible way. The golden rule which states that every website should be fully operational right before the 2 seconds mark still applies for mobile, but, ahead of future technological development and much more complicated pieces of the application, it’s mandatory to keep this constantly controlled and monitored. It’s also extremely worth checking how your site or your app is hosted since server hosting and the number of requests a user must do to get to your site is pretty impactful when it comes to the overall loading time.
The Evolution Of Core Vitals
Core vitals are yet another confirmation of the fact that Google is valuing user experience as a ranking factor. With dozens and dozens of other signals being reduced “in importance”, it is mandatory, now more than ever, to rethink your website’s architecture. In the future, core vitals will most definitely become the only ranking factor for Google after the content itself, which is extremely positive to see for people who invested time in their SEO (especially when technical) strategy.
Core vitals have been released in May and are definitely going to be remembered as one of the biggest Google updates in the history, with thousands and thousands of companies working to optimise their architectures (small, medium or large) for them. For now, the best advice we can give you is to look into them, audit your site and develop a strategy to maintain or optimise them, since they are extremely impactful for your SEO game!
Paul Matthews is a Manchester-based business and tech writer who writes in order to better inform business owners on how to run a successful business. You can usually find him at the local library or browsing Forbes’ latest pieces.