Back in 2020, Google unveiled its new Core Web Vitals, a set of specific factors designed to measure the user experience on a web page. As of August 2021, these metrics have become an official Google ranking factor as part of the “page experience” update.
Over a year later, Core Web Vitals continue to be an important factor for search engine optimization and must be considered by anyone hoping to rank highly. It is clear that Google plans to continue emphasizing user experience and may even evolve its Core Web Vitals over time, so it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with these metrics.
This blog post will help you understand all three Core Web Vitals and why you should be paying attention to them.
The Core Web Vitals
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
This is essentially the average loading time for the main content on a web page. Ideally, the content on your website, including any images or videos, should load within 2.5 seconds of opening the page. When users can load the content on your website faster, they will likely stay on the page.
First Input Delay (FID)
Once users have loaded your web page, they need to interact with it. FID measures your website's responsiveness to interactions such as mouse clicks or key presses. Your website should be snappy and engaging for your users, which Google defines as under 100 milliseconds of delay after the interaction.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
Lastly, you want your website to be visually stable while loading. If links or buttons shift while a user is trying to interact with a page, they will not have a positive experience. Being able to read and interact with the various elements on your website is crucial for driving click-through rates and conversions, so try to keep your user interface as practical as possible.
How Core Web Vitals Affect Your SEO
Now that we have defined the current metrics for Google’s Core Web Vitals, it is important to understand how they factor into your placement on the search engine results page.
The Google algorithm now groups all of your indexed URLs together and issues a score based on the overall user experience. The lowest-performing metric will determine the URL group’s status, so it is important to focus on all three Core Web Vitals. Fortunately, Google has made it easy to identify where you currently stand with their Core Web Vitals report feature.
It is also worth noting that Core Web Vitals are not the only new signal that Google is now factoring with their page experience update. Mobile usability, security issues, HTTPS usage, and advertisements can also contribute to your overall ranking.
Paying attention to your user experience is guaranteed to give your website a competitive advantage, but it is still only one piece of the SEO puzzle. As things currently stand, you should still be focusing on the traditional ranking factors, such as keywords and backlinks, while also starting to integrate user experience into your toolkit.
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