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How to Prepare for Google's Core Web Vitals Update

What Are "Core Web Vitals"?

Core Web Vitals are a set of measurements that are part of Google's page experience score. Starting May 2021, these measurements will inform the search ranking algorithm. Google's objective is to promote websites that are fast, responsive, and visually stable. The Core Web Vitals measure whether a website has these three attributes.

The Core Web Vitals comprise three measurements:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): LCP measures whether a website is fast. Specially, Google is looking to see how fast a webpage's visible content will load. Loading times under 2.5 seconds will be prioritized in the search rankings.
  • First Input Delay (FID): FID measures a website's responsiveness. The metric captures the time it takes the website to respond to user interaction. It is worth noting that the FID measures how long it takes for a website to start working behind the scenes rather than actually rendering new content. Response times faster than 100 milliseconds will be prioritized in the search rankings.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): CLS measures a website's visual stability. Google calculates a CLS score based on the number of times a webpage's layout changes or shifts. A typical example of these "shifts" is when text jumps around on a page when a user scrolls. Scores under 0.1 will be prioritized in the search rankings.

Most Important Core Web Vitals Factors

Two factors contribute to the importance of Core Web Vitals:

  • Core Web Vitals provide a rare glimpse into Google's priorities for search ranking. The announcement in early 2021, coupled with the new PageSpeed Insights tool, make it clear that the three measurements outlined above will be weighted heavily moving forward.
  • This month's activation of Core Web Vitals as part of Google's search ranking algorithm presents an opportunity for you to get a leg up on the competition. Most website owners are wholly unaware that these changes are being made. Leapfrog unprepared competitors in the search ranking by conforming to the new usability standards as quickly as possible.

How to Optimize for Good Core Web Vitals

Approaches to optimizing for Core Web Vitals will vary depending on the web hosting service, size of content being hosted, and the scripts being used. However, these three tactics will boost the page ranking going forward:

  • Image Optimization: LCP and FID both relate to loading web content. Reducing image dimensions and moving them below the fold will accelerate the speed at which the overall webpage loads for users.

  • Script Consolidation: Scripts tend to accumulate over time, but they are rarely removed for fear of not capturing a critical datapoint or usage analytic. Now is the time to take the plunge and purge legacy scripts. The benefits of improved search ranking outweigh the risks of hosting old scripts.
  • Ad Space Reservation: Unpredictable web content leads to negative user experiences and, crucially, a decreased CLS score. Prevent content from suddenly moving or getting pushed out of sight by ensuring that ad elements have a reserved space. Ad space reservation is particularly important for improving mobile user experience. same
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