In recent years, Google and other similar companies have become increasingly concerned with the user experience (UX); that’s why the UX always pops up in algorithm updates. With 88 percent of online users turning away from websites after one bad experience, it goes to show that UX is vital.
Google, being the pioneer, decided to update their page experience signals with something called Core Web Vitals. Now, these Core Web Vitals are one of the most important ranking factors for Google, so don’t forget about them!
But what are Core Web Vitals exactly? How do you measure them? And how do they affect your ranking? In this article, we’re going to delve into this new feature so you can optimize your website perfectly.
According to Google, Core Web Vitals are part of the overall evaluation of page experience. In other words, the vitals are three specific measurements: interactivity, or first input delay (FID); visual stability, or cumulative layout shift (CLS); and loading, or largest contentful paint. (LCP). There are other web vitals, including mobile-friendliness, safe browsing, HTTPS, and no intrusive interstitials.
From the SEO perspective, Core Web Vitals are all about ranking. Anyone who has a website wants to rank on Google. Obviously, that makes the three Core Web Vitals astoundingly…vital.
But there’s another reason why things like interactivity, visual stability, and loading are so important. Imagine if you go to a website that has excellent content but is slow to load, has input delays, or is overall clumsy and difficult to navigate. You would probably leave that website frustrated and never return.
Ranking in 2021 is about finding balance between two factors: content and UX. The Core Web Vitals are designed to enhance the user experience by eliminating websites that have technical problems.
And don’t freak out about content losing its advantage. Google has said that a good page experience isn’t enough to override the value of excellently written, relevant content. So content is still king, but UX is queen.
Now that you know what the Core Web Vitals are, it’s time to look at how you improve them. You might not understand right away how to do anything about FID, CLS, or LCP, so we’re going to make it basic for you. That way, it doesn’t matter if you’ve been doing SEO for years or are just learning how to make a few tweaks for the first time. These improvements are easy to do and they work.
First thing’s first, do you actually need to work on the Core Web Vitals? There’s always room for improvement, but some websites need more assistance than others. You can check your page load speed and LCP score by visiting Google PageSpeed Insights. The tool is free to use and gives you a green-yellow-red scale to show where you need to focus your efforts.
Let’s look at more specific objectives. Here are 5 ways to optimize Core Web Vitals and increase your ranking:
What makes a good website great? When it loads rapidly. To get that kind of speed, you need a reliable server that executes actions as soon as they are requested. But how do you optimize your server?
Sometimes you need a hosting plan that is designed to carry heavier loads. Oftentimes, this means paying a little bit more. However, the speed and stability of the server—and the increased satisfaction of your visitors—makes the price well worth it.
This is something a bit more advanced and can be left alone until other improvements have been made. If you think the server isn’t pushing files correctly, you might want to get in touch with a professional computer technician or someone in web development to help you.
Browser caching is useful, because it lets the visitor save files from the website on their browser. When they decide to check out your website a second time, those locally saved elements are going to load much faster. The server will receive fewer requests, too.
If you can make adjustments to the database, do it. There is a plugin called Query Monitor that analyzes queries on the site then makes a few suggestions about how you can improve things.
You have definitely heard about optimizing images before. For years now, image optimization has been one of the most effective ways to boost SEO and get a higher ranking. So if you’re still dithering about optimizing the images on your site, there is no more time to wait. You need to do it now.
Leave an image unoptimized and it will kill the load time (and make traffic disappear).
Basically, image optimization is the process of taking high-quality images and delivering them correctly but while keeping their file size small. When there is less of an image to load, your page load speed increases, your SEO improves, conversions are boosted, and user engagement is enhanced.
You can optimize an image a few ways—resizing, compressing, or caching. There are a few apps you can use, like ImageKit, ShortPixel, Smush, or squoosh.app.
You can also make critical CSS to make certain elements load more quickly. While this move won’t increase your site’s overall speed, it does help the user experience. If you are using WordPress, check out the WP Pocket plugin. There is a button titled “Optimize CSS Delivery.” Press it, and you will find that there is less render-blocking on your CSS.
Also, there is something called “minify CSS.” You might see this come up when you use PageSpeed Insights. How do you minify? Remove any unnecessary spaces, comments, or characters from the source code, thereby reducing the file size. It’s a simple tweak, but it’s effective.
One of the metrics of Core Web Vitals is called “cumulative layout shift (CLS).” This shift happens when images without dimensions are injected into the CSS or ads without dimensions get embedded.
When images don’t have the correct dimensions for a page, everything around those images tends to jump. For example, let’s say you have two buttons for submitting and canceling an order. If there is a shift, the person who wants to make a purchase might click the Submit button but actually be hitting the Cancel button. To the visitor, it looks like the page is unreliable and broken. It’s also aggravating and may cause rage. They’ll take an exit right there.
When you are using CSS to create a website, make sure you are adding in the correct height and width for the images. You can add an attribute tag, and it works for all kinds of embedded content, including ads.
Ad scripts are an example of a third party script, or one that comes from an outside source. When ads are slow to load, everything else gets dragged down with it. Take a look at the scripts to see if they are causing your site grief. If they are, see if you can switch to another third party. Don’t let a third party script bog you down.
Before you start optimizing your Core Web Vitals, remember that there is a dozen avenues to take to get ranked on Google. Even Google has stated that there isn’t a formula to get you higher in the SERPs than someone else. Try out different fixes and measure each impact to see what happens and what you should pay attention to. Obviously, some of these tips may not apply to your site. Focus on improving the user experience and getting quick load times, and you should have no problems in the future.
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