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What is Core Web Vitals and Why You Should be Thinking About It Now

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Two small business owners looking at their website on a laptop

Key Takeaways

  • Google began deploying the Core Web Vitals program this month, which will be the foundation for Google’s search engine algorithm. The update is expected to be completed in August 2021.
  • The three metrics measured for Core Web Vitals are Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID), and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS).
  • There are several free tools you can use to measure these metrics. PageSpeed Insights and Google Search Console are great for beginners.

If you already have a working website for your small business, then you are aware of the importance of ranking high on Google’s search results. However, getting into the first page of Google search will take more than just a good online marketing strategy and a quality professional website. In May 2020, Google announced a program called Core Web Vitals—a new set of metrics that Google believes are essential to deliver a great user experience online. By June 2021, Google rolled out Core Web Vitals and will serve as the baseline for Google’s search engine algorithm.

Read more about online marketing slang: The Small Business Online Marketing Pocket Dictionary

What is Core Web Vitals?

Core Web Vitals is a set of specific metrics that Google considers important for a website's overall user experience. The metrics measured include a website’s loading experience, interactivity, and the visual stability of page content. Earning a good score on these metrics constitutes what Google thinks is a “healthy website”.

Core Web Vitals Metrics: Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID), Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – This measures your website’s load speed and the page load timeline when the page's main content has likely loaded. What’s considered a page’s main content can be your biggest image, content block, or video.
  • First Input Delay (FID) – This measures a website’s responsiveness and quantifies the experience users feel when trying to first interact with the page. FID measures the time from when a user clicks a link, taps on a button, or interacts with whatever feature on your site, to the time when the browser is actually able to begin processing the responses to that interaction.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) – This measures visual stability and quantifies the amount of unexpected layout shift of a web page. For example, have you ever experienced looking at a web page and suddenly the icons and texts are moved to another place? How about when you are about to click on a button and it moved to somewhere else and you end up clicking another button? That’s what developers would call a layout shift.

How can you measure Core Web Vitals?

Google has released several free tools to gauge the Core Web Vitals of your website. You can opt to install a Core Web Vitals extension on your Chrome browser if you want to see the health of your site while browsing it. You can also visit analytics tools like PageSpeed Insights to get a report on the performance of a certain page on both mobile and desktop devices. It also provides suggestions on how that page may be improved. 

PageSpeed Insights Report

Another easy-to-use tool is Google Search Console, where a dedicated report helps site owners quickly identify opportunities for improvement. However, to be able to use this free tool, you need to verify ownership of your website first. One of the easiest ways to verify ownership is to activate the Google Analytics feature for your website.

Google Search Console Report

What does this mean for your business?

If you’re asking why you need to keep up with Google’s search algorithms, then this statistic will blow your mind: Google has accounted for just over 70% of all global desktop search traffic, followed by Baidu at 13%, Bing at 12%, and Yahoo at 2%. So, you definitely need to stay on top of Google’s search algorithm trends.

Another reason why you should be working on your website’s Core Web Vitals is because being optimized for it will significantly improve your search engine results ranking—gaining you a big advantage against competitors. Did you know that on the first page alone, the first five organic results account for 67.60% of all the clicks?

Working on your page speed also has its perks. According to this 2020 study, 93% of people have left because a website didn’t load quickly enough. Page speed is a verified asset in keeping your visitors engaged on your website.

Gain the winning advantage has a free website grader tool that provides a report that highlights what needs to be optimized on your website to gain better visibility on Google. While the free report will not indicate page speed, you can take advantage of a free consultation with a SEO expert who will gladly discuss your page speed, loading times, and ways to improve these.

The times are always a-changing at Google, but its always for the best user experience. Working on important algorithm updates like these benefits not just your online customers but your revenue, as well.

Image Credits:

  • Header: Shutterstock
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  • Image 2: Screenshot - PageSpeed Insights Result
  • Image 3: Screenshot - Google Search Console Report