Core Web Vitals - What You Need To Know

Website managers know that providing a positive user experience is critical to ensuring that site traffic stays high and visitors continue returning. Of course, improving the user experience also enables websites to rank higher in Google searches — an endeavor made easier by using Google’s web services, like Google Search Console, to optimize a site’s performance. But Google has begun making changes to how it measures the quality of a website, creating a “Web Vitals” engine composed of new metrics that evaluate just how well a webpage functions from a user’s perspective.

The Web Vitals engine uses three new metrics, referred to as “Core Web Vitals,” to determine whether the user experience is up to par for each website. Beginning in 2021, these Core Web Vitals will be integrated into Google’s ranking signal, which determines where websites show up on the search engine. The Core Web Vitals will join already-established page signals like mobile-friendliness and safe browsing in scoring a webpage — which means web managers have a pretty good incentive to begin mastering these metrics now.

The three Core Web Vitals Google has introduced are Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID), and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). If you’re scratching your head right now, don’t worry: These metrics are far less complicated than they sound. So, where should you begin?

Largest Contentful Paint

Let’s start with Largest Contentful Paint (LCP). Put simply, this metric is designed to measure how quickly a webpage loads. The thing is, LCP doesn’t actually take the entire loading process into account; it simply measures how quickly the largest element on a given page takes to materialize.

With that in mind, web managers can optimize their page’s LCP by determining the largest element and getting that specific part of the page to load faster. If that element happens to be an image, resizing or compressing it will do the trick. Some other ways to boost your LCP grade include:

  • Remove large elements
  • Remove third-party scripts
  • Upgrade to a faster hosting site
  • Eliminate “lazy loading”
  • Reduce CSS

First Input Delay

Next up is a webpage’s First Input Delay (FID). This measurement is determined by how quickly the page responds to user interaction. Naturally, visitors will be more inclined to remain on a site that doesn’t freeze up or bounce each time they click on something. So, how can you lessen the likelihood of that happening?

To improve your site’s FID, Google recommends taking the following steps:

  • Lessen the impact of third-party code
  • Decrease JavaScript execution time
  • Minimize main thread work
  • Keep request counts and transfer sizes to a minimum

Cumulative Layout Shift

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) measures a page’s visual stability. It determines how frequently a page’s elements bounce when they’re loading, making it difficult for users to engage with the content they’re trying to access.

To improve your website’s CLS, you can take the following steps:

  • Set clear dimensions for media, so images and videos don’t overlap with other elements on the page
  • Set aside space for ads, and make sure the ads stay within those dimensions
  • Add UI elements below the fold to prevent content from moving down on the page
  • Check your CLS score regularly to ensure it stays below 0.1

Getting Started

Now that you know how to enhance your website’s Core Web Vitals, you’ll need to start keeping track of them. These metrics can be viewed by heading to the “enhancements” section of Google Search Console. Each report will present your website’s data so you can determine what you need to improve upon today!