Simply put, websites that users enjoy using will rank higher. User experience holds great value on the world wide web, and Google is now emphasizing even more on the user experience of a website and has introduced ways to rank websites based on their user experience.
Since Google and other top search engines indicated that quality user experience is a key factor in ranking websites, there has been a lot of speculation on the ideal page speed score. However, this isn’t the case anymore as Google has cleared many misconceptions by introducing Core Web Vitals.
Earlier, websites concentrated all their efforts on improving the overall website speeds and virtually ignored the importance of critical user experience metrics. With the Core Web Vitals initiative by Google, Google has helped website developers spend their time and efforts on improving what matters: User Experience.
Introducing Core Web Vitals
As the name suggests, Core Web Vitals are performance metrics that reflect on what really matters, superior user experience. This measurement system applies to every website there is on the world wide web and should ideally be used by all website owners to ensure their website does well.
Core Web Vitals comprise of three metrics, each of which is a particular factor in measuring Google’s website experience score. The three metrics are calculated through in-field user experience, which mirrors real-world applicability.
Before you are introduced to three primary performance metrics, it is worth knowing that these metrics and their significance will evolve over time. For now, the Core Web Vitals offer the most accurate available information for site performance with reference to the user experience. Without further ado, let’s dive right in.
1. LCP – Largest Contentful Paint
This metric measures the amount of time it takes for the main content of the page to load. In simpler words, this is the time it takes for the main text, images, or other media to fully load after you click on the website’s link.
The major factor determining LCP are rendered times for the largest video, image, or text on the page. Ideal LCP scores are lesser than 2.5 seconds.
2. FID – First Input Delay
FID measures the amount of time a website takes to become interactive for the user; how long a page takes before the user can click on content, scroll or enter text. This metric is highly practical as it takes into consideration the users’ real-time experience when they visit a website.
The FID measures for websites are typically much shorter than the LCP and are measured in milliseconds rather than seconds. However, still, ideal FDI’s should be lesser than 100 ms.
3. CLS – Cumulative Layout Shift
This factor measures the visual stability of a website. This is the only factor that does not measure website speed but how stable the website layout is as it loads. The slight glitch-like shift we see in elements of a website as it loads is actually CLS.
The shift in elements is unexpected and makes the webpage look glitchy. The lesser CLS is, the more reliable and secure a website looks. CLS is measured in distance units, and the ideal CLS count is lower than 0.1. Anything exceeding that needs improvement.
Why You Need to Focus on Core Web Vitals
With your website or business, your aim is to provide the best experience possible to your clients or users, so they are impressed by what you have to offer and that they keep coming back.
To retain clients, one needs to ramp up on all factors that influence user experience. In the same way, Google is also a business. Google wants to provide a better experience to people who use the search engine for their web surfing.
One of the most important ways that Google can provide a better experience for its users is by turning up with the best search results. And they are using the Core Web Vitals as major determinant factors in ranking websites.
This where it comes to you and your website. The better your site’s Core Web Vitals are, the higher it ranks on Google search results and the more increased traffic you get. So simply, if you want your business or website to run well, it needs to be more visible. And to be more visible, your site’s LCP, FDI, and CLS counts need to be as low as possible.
How to Access your Core Web Vitals
Okay, you’re done with the first step. You now know what Core Web Vitals are but knowing is not enough. It is time to learn how we can measure our website’s Core Web Vitals and what we can do to improve them.
Google has emphasized a great deal Core Web Vitals, and as part of its emphasis, it has made its measurement quite simple. Google has created the Chrome User Experience Report, which takes data from real Chrome users visiting different websites.
It gathers data for each Core Web Vital and makes life really easy for site owners to check their performance.
How to Improve Core Web Vitals
Your website’s Core Web Vitals rely on speed and stability. When it comes to page speed/page load time, quite a few factors play a role. Ranging from heavy image files to request generation, several components of a website increase the burden on the browser and increases page load time.
Experts at Google have recommended a range of solutions for improving your Core Web Vitals and, in turn, your site’s user experience.
- Inline Important CSS: Inline the most essential parts of your site’s CSS, such as those related to your site’s design and layout. The goal is to reduce the number of single files the server has to load for the initial layout.
- Optimize Delivery: CSS typically takes a long time to load. You can ideally preload CSS so that the browser has it ready whenever required.
It may surprise many, but the fonts and icons on a website can take a heavy toll on its loading time. However, with the help of some very minute changes, you may see a significant difference in your site’s loading.
- Preload Fonts: Just like CSS, when your website needs to load a font, the font is prioritized before any other part of the site is loaded. This is for the same reason that when you load a website with a highly stylized font, there’s a brief flash of standard text before it converts to the intended format and font size. This reduces your user page experience scores.
- Use Fonts Wisely: When designing a webpage, one should only use the fonts they need. Most font systems, even when used only for a few words, will load all characters which are not even utilized. To avoid the unnecessary burden on your site, make sure you use fewer fonts as possible.
Large image files can adversely impact your LCP, and FDI counts, so it is a good idea to optimize images on your site, so they load better.
- CDN Servers: Using image CDN servers is one of the highly recommended ways to optimize images on your web pages. Servers are slowed down when under a lot of pressure; this happens especially when image files have to load from the same server. You could alternatively use an Image CDN server service to drastically reduce the load on servers and improve page speed.
- WebP Format: The format of your images also matters. Google recommends images be converted to WebP format for easy loading.
- LazyLoad: LazyLoad is a technique that allows your website to work smart and not hard. When LazyLoad is implemented, only the images that are to appear on the screen are loaded first. This decreases the burden on the site. Off-screen web page images only load when the user scrolls nearer to them.
Best Tools to Improve Your Core Web Vitals
Perfmatters is a WordPress plugin to improve your website’s speed. A significant proportion of sites on the web are powered by WordPress, and this plugin can be applied to all.
When a website is designed on WordPress, some options are enabled by default that not every site utilizes. These enabled options unnecessarily slow down the site. Not everyone can disable these options, but with Perfmatters, you can achieve this with a few clicks.
Furthermore, Perfmatters helps you deal with unnecessary HTTP requests that are likely to slow down your page speed the most. This tool empowers you to control when plugins can or cannot load code.
There’s more. You can make use of fantastic tools like preconnect, DNS prefetch, local Google Analytics script hosting, and many others to speed up your site and bring down LCP and FDI counts significantly.
- Heartbeat control
- REST API control
- Disable script on individual pages or posts.
- Plans start from $24.95/year.
Nitropack is not just a WordPress plugin; it’s much more than that. The pioneering idea behind NitroPack is to simplify the page speeding process as much as possible.
Rather than having to use multiple plugins and choosing what to optimize and what not to individually, NiroPack offers an all-in-one solution for optimizing your website. It works on WordPress as well as all other major platforms such as WooCommerce, opencart, and Magento.
All you have to do is add your website and install Nitropack. The third and last step is to decide how strongly you want your site optimized. Like your personal virtual assistant, NitroPack will begin all the optimizations
Using NitoPack will not only save a great deal of time but also server usage as it runs optimization activities on its own servers.
- Automated website optimization
- Global CDN
- DNS prefetching
- HTML, JS and CSS minification
- Free plan for small websites, powered by a badge.
- Paid plans to remove the badge and extra features.
3. WP Rocket
WP Rocket is the best WordPress cache plugin. If not NitroPack, use WP Rocket.
You don’t even have to configure WP Rocket, install it and your WordPress website is faster than before. It’s the easiest way to reduce the loading time for any WordPress website, including WooCommerce stores.
WP Rocket allows you to pre-load your pages using sitemap. Which we found to be highly reducing the bounce rate as it serves your pages as soon as your visitors click on any internal links. This is called pre-load, WP Rocket renders the page in the background as soon as a you hover your cursor on an internal link.
You won’t have to study a full course to learn how to use this caching plugin; unlike most other plugins, WP Rocket is fairly easy to set up and start using.
- Page caching
- User-friendly interface
- Cache pre-load
- Image lazy loading
- Minimal tweaking required for speed improvements
- Starts from $49
Core Web Vitals – The Future
For now, Google uses the best signals available as the Core Web Vitals, but as time progresses, better and more accurate signals may replace or be added into the existing Core Web Vitals.
LCP, FDI, and CLS are three Web Vitals considered to be the most important, hence they are named Core Web Vitals. However, there are other signals, too, such as mobile-friendliness, safe browsing, HTTPS, and No Intrusive Interstitials.
These signals may be included in the Core Web Vitals in the future if it’s found that they are better indicators of user experience.
Google has stated that your website’s Core Web Vitals will influence its ranking, but it is not clear to what extent. But it is clear that by improving your Web Vitals, you will definitely enhance users’ experience on your site.