Google Core Web Vitals

How to identify and improve Google Core Web Vitals on your site

Google Algorithm Updates

In 2021. Google set Core Web Vitals as a new search ranking factor. Content of the page still matters a lot, but page experience has a big impact on the ranking score as never before. The new algorithm update had a significant impact on the search results of many websites.

As of now Core Web Vitals statistics have a direct impact on your Google ranking so it is important to know what they are, how to find them and how to improve Google Core Web Vitals on your website to meet this new standard.

What are the Core Web Vitals?

In 2020 Google already signalled that page experience will be included in SERP rankings and mobile-friendly experience, safe browsing, HTTPS, and a lack of pop-ups will be a factor in becoming months. At the end of the year, three new page experience elements were reviled called Care Web Vitals. These three vitals are:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP),
  • First Input Delay (FID),
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

What is measured in Core Web Vitals

All three Google core web vitals are crucial for your ranking in Google organic search and your page position. There are three measured statuses for user experience: Good, Needs improvement, and Poor. It is important to score Good in all three vital elements, otherwise, the Google algorithm will favour more user-friendly pages and the position of your page will drop in Google search.

Three Google Core Web Vitals explained
Largest Contentful Paint 0-2,5s -> Good
2,6s-4s -> Needs Improvement
over 4s -> Poor
LCP measures the amount of time it takes for the largest visible image or text block on the page to load.
First Input Delay 0-100ms -> Good
101s-300s-> Needs Improvement
over 300s -> Poor
FID measures the time from when a user first interacts with the site when the browser responds.
Cumulative Layout Shift 0-0,1 -> Good
0,1-0,25 -> Needs Improvement
over 0.25 -> Poor
CLS scores and measures how much page content and elements shift while the site is still rendering.

As you can see above, all three Google core web vitals will measure how long it will take the user to wait for your website to load, and be able to interact with the page. Also, it checks if there are no shifts of elements on the page that would break the user experience.

How to find out the website status of Core Web Vitals

Knowing what we look for, now it is time to check the actual status of the page.

#1 Google Core Web Vitals report in Search Console

Core web vitals

Go to Google Search Console. Click on Core Web Vitala and Open Report to get detailed information about the status of your pages.

Google Core Web Vitals in Google Search Console
Google Core Web Vitals in Google Search Console

As you can see above LCP on some pages is longer than 4 seconds. You can click on the Details listing to see sample pages that affect the score.

#2 Page Speed Insight

Page Speed Insight is a Google dedicated page to check a page speed test and get recommendations of how to fix any issues related to your website. Here you have precisely listed what are the LCP, FID, and CLS.

Google Core Web Vitals in Page Speed Insights
Google Core Web Vitals in Page Speed Insights

#3 Lighthouse Report

  1. Open Google Chrome.
  2. Navigate to the page you want to test.
  3. Right click anywhere on the page and select Inspect from a dropdown list.
  4. Find Lighthouse. It is located on the top menu on the right. You may click ‘>>’ to get to Lighthouse manu item.
  5. Click on Lighthouse and Generate Report.
Google Core Web Vitals in Lighthouse
Google Core Web Vitals in Lighthouse

The report will look similar to this one:

Improve Googe Core Web Vitals - Sample Lighthouse Report
Improve Googe Core Web Vitals – Sample Lighthouse Report

As you can see the same page can provide slightly different metrics. Time of the day may also have an impact on your page scores.

Steps to improve your website score

Once you run tests and know core web vitals for mobile and desktop it is time to identify issues and fix them. Please note that mobile score is most important as Google gives it a priority.

#1 Fix LCP loading time

If there is a problem with the Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) and metrics show more than 4 seconds for initial load, first check what is identified as LCP. It could be an image or text.

If it is an image make sure it is optimised. As a rule of thumb, don’t use images over 70 kb and make proper dimensions as well.

As you can see in the above image width and height (800 x 600) are provided and the image is only 49 kb. It’s crucial to make sure images are light because this will improve loading speed. You can compress images with Optimizilla – a free online compressor.

#2 Implement lazy loading

Lazy loading allows delaying a load of images or other objects until they are actually needed. This significantly improves the performance of the website.

Loading of images can be delayed until the user scrolls the page. This means the page will finish rendering on the ‘above the fold line of the page – the upper half of the front page. All tools will show a preview of a page, so you can easily identify it. For pages with many images, videos, or animations lazy loading is a must.

#3 Activate CDN

Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a geographically distributed group of servers that work together to provide fast delivery. In simple words – the user will receive requested content from the closest server to his location. And this means the website content will be delivered much faster.

Many hosting providers offer CDN for free. For example, Siteground, Bluehost or Cloudways have CDN already included in their hosting plans.

#4 Reduce Cumulative Layout Shifts

No one likes when elements on the page move in an unexpected way.

For example, the user intended to click on a button but the page moved and the user clicked on an ad. Actions like this will generate a negative user experience.

To prevent it from happening always provide the size of the object. Also, move ads to the bottom of the page. Be careful with dynamically loaded content especially above existing content. Preload fonts and make sure text reminds are visible during page loading.

#5 Reduce JavaScript execution time

It is an important factor for First Input Delay (FID) measure because all front end actions are affected by JavaScript.

Users will have a negative experience if after clicking on a link nothing happens because the website is slowly processing JavaScript jobs in the background.

FID score is not directly available but Total Blocking Time (TBT) is so if TBT is not red FID should be fine too.

Improve Googe Core Web Vitals - Reduce Javascript execution time
Improve Googe Core Web Vitals – Reduce Javascript execution time

One of the options to reduce JavaScript and CSS size is to minify it. Minifying is a process of minimizing code and markup by removing unwanted spaces, characters and part of the code that is not needed, making a file size much smaller.

This does not sound like a human job, right? Indeed, there are WordPress plugins designed to fix these issues. The one worth looking at is WP Rocket, one of the best on the market.

#6 Improve server response time

In general, faster server response will improve your SEO, but also your user experience. It is important to identify issues related to server response time.

There are many factors that can influence server response time.

Web Hosting – check stats before buying it!

The most obvious one is web hosting. Web hosting providers store your website files and make your website available on the internet (saying in short). If the web hosting provider has slow servers or they share hosting space is too small it will affect how fast your website is loading.

Before buying your web hosting always check if they are reliable. This website is running with Siteground and is very fast.

Website Builder – select one that is light

When I was trying to fix my server response time, I struggled for a while to identify what was wrong as my page score was on some pages between 25 and 40. You cannot really rank well with Google with a score like that.

Over time I learned that the website builder I used was heavy by default and whatever I was doing to improve my score nothing worked.

The best way to check how heavy is your website builder is to create an empty page and run a speed test on it. If you find that the blank page score is lower than 70, how you can achieve a better score when you add text, images or videos?

My first website builder was Elementor and I really liked it in the beginning as it was user friendly. Because I could not achieve better Google Core Web Vitals I decided to upgrade my website from Elementor to a super-fast, Gutenberg blocks theme – Kadence.

Now, this website and my other websites score more than 90 on mobile and desktop.

Unnecessary plugins

Plugins are a great addition to your blog as they offer additional functionality. However, too many plugins are not a good idea.

Check how many plugins you have installed because each plugin has its weight that can significantly slow down your page loading speed. Any plugins you don’t need, deactivate and uninstall them. You will see the improvement immediately.

How to improve Google Core Web Vitals – Summary

As you see there are many things that can affect your Google Core Web Vitals. Fortunately, most of them are easily fixable.

If you are starting a blog, or started recently, don’t wait too long and fix your website before it is too late. Long term existing bloggers should also make necessary updates as all websites that don’t meet new Google criteria will deteriorate in ranking over time.

You don’t need to make all changes at once. In general, try to start from the below steps and I can guarantee your website will rank higher.

  1. Check if your web hosting provider is fast and recommended.
  2. Check if your website builder is not heavy, otherwise, switch ot a light theme like Kadence.
  3. Use WP Rocket to reduce servier reponse time.

I hope by doing these simple steps you can keep ranking high with Google.

Please drop a comment if you have any questions.

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