User Experience – colloquially referred to as UX – as a ranking factor has long been a point that Google has highlighted to webmasters all over the world.
But it wasn’t until last year that Google has determined it with decisive definite action; in fact, Google announced that they are still working on the rollout until the end of March 2022.
It’s really just long overdue.
Now that you know that UX has been confirmed as an influential factor in how your website will rank, it’s time to assess your website and discover what’s holding it back and impacting your users’ experiences.
Read on to learn what may need to be fixed to ensure that the Core Web Vitals update won’t negatively impact your website’s ranking.
What is Core Web Vitals?
Core Web Vitals is a tool Google uses to determine website speed and measure user experience to decide if it meets their standards.
Core Web Vitals (CWV) is all to do with what your site visitors experience once they land on your website.
There are many elements that impact this, as well as some newer ones including First Input Delay, Largest Contentful Paint and Cumulative Layout Shift (more on these below).
How can I check that my website measures up?
To find out your website’s standing, go to your Google Search Console account and navigate to the ‘Enhancements’ section.
How to make sure your website’s UX is up to speed
Monitoring your audiences’ experience when navigating through your website is important in Core Web Vitals.
You must make sure that your pages are optimised so that navigation and transactions are as straightforward and intuitive as they can be.
If your website’s UX is highly optimised and friendly to its users, it will be rewarded with a higher ranking in the SERPs.
SEO has never really been a part and parcel kind of project.
For your website to have proper SEO, you have to make sure all the parts of the machine are well-oiled, so to speak. So beyond content, title tags, and meta descriptions, you must also check the following:
1. HTTPS connection
Part of a great user experience is ensuring your website is secure.
In addition to HTTPS, it is a must that you provide your users with safe and secure browsing that will not expose their personal information to malicious events or transactions.
3. Avoid intrusive pop-ups
Let’s face it: pop-ups aren’t don’t make for a great user experience and most site visitors are annoyed by them, especially if they cannot be closed easily or repeatedly appear on multiple pages.
Additional CWV metrics
As an effect of the new Core Web Vitals rollout, additional metrics were introduced to measure site user experience:
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
LCP measures how long it takes for the largest element on the page to load, the assumption being that it is a measure of how long it takes for the main content to load as well.
For good Core Web Vitals, you want a low LCP, which as per Google’s standard is less than three seconds.
What you can do to achieve a low LCP
Eliminate large page elements
Google PageSpeed Insights identifies page elements that slow down LCP. Remove suspected large elements where possible if they are impacting your LCP score.
Keep only necessary third-party scripts
A third-party script can slow down a page a few milliseconds – which might not seem like much. But if you’ve got a lot of them, this could take your LCP down significantly, so keep it down to ones that are absolutely needed.
Minimise your CSS
Bulky CSS will delay your page’s LCP times, so it is important to fix this. Alternatively, set up ‘lazy loading’, where images load only when a user scrolls down a page.
Ensure you have a good web host
When possible, upgrade to better hosting. This is the easiest, guaranteed way to speed up load times.
First Input Delay (FID)
FID pertains to page interactivity level.
This is an assessment of the time it takes for a web page to carry out a command or action made on that page.
FID is an important criterion because interaction with pages is the main mechanism of a website’s primary function, especially for e-commerce sites.
Today’s users have little patience for unresponsive pages so it is important to get this right.
Every event that happens, from clicking a link, choosing from a drop-down menu or inputting a value into a form or search box all impact FID.
FID measures how long it takes for a user’s action to result in the specified action on a given page. So, how can you improve your site’s FID score?
Eliminate non-essential third-party scripts
Like LCP guidelines, too many third-party scripts will drag down FID speed.
Unfortunately, third-party scripts for heatmaps, Google Analytics, are some of the scripts that negatively affect FID. Keep only the ones you absolutely need.
Use browser cache to improve page loading times, especially if the page is content heavy.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
CLS gauges a page’s visual stability.
As hinted in the name, a shifting layout or shifting elements within the layout can negatively impact a user’s experience. For example, a user may accidentally click on an object, page, or ad that they did not mean to click on, because the object shifted as the page loaded.
This element will also likely affect bounce rate: maintaining good CLS will prevent users from leaving your website because of this frustrating user experience.
To eliminate moving or shifting elements while the page is loading, stability is key. Here are a few key ways to ensure you get a stable CLS:
Have defined spaces for ads
Shifting ad elements is perhaps the most annoying accidental click made by a user, so make sure the allotted landscapes for ads are fixed dimensions.
Have defined spaces for media content
Similarly, videos, GIFs and images should have set dimensions, just like ads so the browser can anticipate where media elements will load.
New User Interface placement
A good rule of thumb is to put UI elements below the fold so that content doesn’t end up getting pushed down from where it usually is.
The three main features of LCP, FID and CLS are only the primary areas of concern but there are ways to further examine details of your Core Web Vitals standing and how to improve it.
We suggest visiting your Google Search Console and navigating to the Core Web Vitals section to see what specific areas your website needs improvement. If you’re seeing a few warnings, you will want to act fast!
Not sure where to start when it comes to assessing and improving your Core Web Vitals?
For those not well-versed with how to solve warnings and issues spotted in your Google Search Console, or if you simply don’t have the time to fix them yourself, let iformat take care of it.
We’ll assess your website and provide fixes and improvements for your site’s Core Web Vital score.
iformat are SEO specialists in Melbourne and Brisbane who can assess and improve your website to ensure it’s ready for SEO in 2022.
Each of our clients benefits from a custom SEO strategy, tailored to meet their individual needs and online goals.
Speak to our SEO consultants in Melbourne or Brisbane today to learn more about uncovering your Core Web Vitals score, and what you need to do to start improving it immediately.