A little more than a year ago, Google announced that it planned to update its algorithm to incorporate specific user experience criteria. Known as core web vitals, Google would begin to reward or penalize websites for their performance in three areas linked to user frustration and bounce rate. Now that the update has rolled out, what should businesses know about core web vitals, and how can adjusting your website impact your business?
What are the 3 Metrics Associated With Core Web Vitals?
Google’s May 2020 press release announced that it would refine its criteria for assessing user experience. While Google already incorporated some of the factors into its algorithms – such as mobile optimization and secure web browsing – the company made a point that it would eventually include on-page experience in the algorithm that would begin rolling out in June 2021.
According to Google, on-page experience is expressed in three ways:
- Visual Stability
We’ll break down what each of these factors really means for your website.
1. Loading Performance – Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
LCP is not the same as overall page loading speed since that metric is already factored into the algorithm. Instead, LCP refers to the perceived amount of time it takes for the most important web page elements to load.
For example, typically the page elements “above-the-fold” are of the greatest interest to web page visitors. These elements usually include images and videos that take longer to load than the remainder of the page. If these are the most important elements and they take too much time to load, the web visitor may decide to bounce.
Google has set a benchmark for page-loading time: 2.5 seconds.  If all of your web page elements do not load within that time frame, you’ll likely be penalized.
2. Page Interactivity – First Input Delay (FID)
FID deals with web page responsiveness when a user interacts with an element on your website. That could mean clicking a link or button or even filling out a form and pressing “submit.” The first input delay would be the time it takes between your action and the website’s response.
Digital marketing publication Search Engine Land states that the response time should be less than 100 milliseconds.  Poor interactivity when a visitor is engaged and taking action could lead to losing that customer. So, improving web page responsiveness is critical to your business.
3. Visual Stability – Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
Visual stability refers to how often the page jumps around and shifts while the user is attempting to scroll it. If you’ve ever tried to read an online article and suddenly lose your place because the web page moves around, you understand what this metric is all about. Or maybe you intended to click on something, but the page shifts, and you end up clicking on something else. It’s extremely frustrating for a page visitor when the page layout shifts unexpectedly.
Google assigns a CLS score to your web pages. To avoid a bad score, your CLS should be between 0.1 and 0.25. But your dev team should work to improve even those figures. 
How To Improve Your Core Web Vitals
First, you’ll need to audit your site to understand how your web pages perform on these three metrics. You can either use Google Search Console or a third-party auditing site. Once you identify the issues, you’ll have to correct them. Depending on the size of your website and the number of pages, this could be an extensive process. If your business doesn’t employ trained experts skilled at monitoring and fixing site issues, you’ll need to reach out to a website design and development company to take on this project.
Web Development Services at Full Circle SEM
Website auditing is time-consuming, and unless you have the background and skills to know what you’re looking for and how to fix it, it’s a better decision to hand off the project to those with extensive experience in this area. The web development professionals at Full Circle SEM have the knowledge and training to audit your web pages and make the necessary corrections to comply with Google’s frequent algorithm updates. Contact us to schedule a consultation and let us turn your website into one that appeals to visitors and ranks high on Google’s search pages.