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Another reason to optimise your website: Google’s Web Vital Metrics

10th March 2020

Google has confirmed it will soon be applying new speed metrics to its ranking engine – a development that was trialled at the end of last year.

It’s a smart move. A slow website isn’t just frustrating to use; customers who aren’t having the experience they expect will jump ship before you even know you’ve had – and lost – them. Understanding how fast your website can load and display the information your customers need will help you to manage your funnel and positively impact your bottom line.

What are Web Vitals?

Google’s Core Web Vitals are designed to provide unified guidance for the quality signals that are essential to delivering a great UX on the web.

Comprising a set of specific metrics that are deemed critical for understanding and delivering a flawless UX, these metrics will become a ranking factor in 2021 as part of Google’s page experience score to define and score the overall UX of every web page.

How to measure and report on Core Web Vitals?

In our latest release, we are rolling out a series of new metrics that gives you customer-centric performance data to help understand how your application is performing from the customer’s point of view.

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)

One of the larger impacting web-vital metrics, LCP, records how long the largest piece of visible content, whether that be an image or a piece of text, takes to render from page load.

It is, in effect, a measure of how quickly customers can consume the largest piece of content on the page, which could be the most important or the most visible. If you have a poor LCP, your page will appear slow, therefore optimising your website for a low LCP could have a large impact on the perceived performance by your customers.

A typically high-performing page will have an LCP of around 1 second or less whereas poor LCPs will be greater than 1.5 seconds, upwards of 2 seconds. Like First Contentful Paint (FCP), reducing the TTFB using a CDN to serve your content and caching static files where needed will help bring your LCP down to a higher-performing level.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)CLS is a user-centric metric for measuring visual stability, helping quantify how often users experience an unexpected layout shift that affects the user experience on the site. It’s a factor that will be particularly pertinent to those sites with lots of content or that are ad heavy.

The most common causes of poor CLS are:

  • Images without dimensions
  • Ads, embeds, and iframes without dimensions
  • Dynamically injected content
  • Web Fonts causing FOIT/FOUT
  • Actions waiting for a network response before updating DOM

Getting up to speed

Core Web Vitals will be implemented this May, with Google setting saying a minimum threshold in order for websites to benefit from the new ranking signal. Which means that now, more than ever, it’s essential to review how you manage your web journey speed.

A great page experience score won’t, on its own, reward you with a coveted number-one spot in Google; there are hundreds of factors in the ranking mix. However, Google’s opinion counts and brands ignore it at their peril. Time and again over the years we’ve seen that optimising the quality of the online user experience (UX) is key to the success of any website.