If Google openly talks about an upcoming update, you know it’s going to be a big deal. Google warned webmasters about the Core Web Vitals update back in May of 2020. So, yes, this will be a big one—probably the biggest we’ve seen in some time.
The update will put a higher level of importance on things like your site’s security, usability, and mobile-friendliness. However, it will also change how we measure a website’s speed.
Speed has always been a key ranking signal, and something that far too many websites struggle with.
“One of the first things we do with a new client is run a site-wide speed test to see what we’re working with,” said Paul Teitelman, owner of SEO Toronto and a veteran of the SEO industry.
“I would have to say that we discover speed is a problem for at least 70% of those clients. Maybe more.”
The Core Web Vitals update will take the granularity of measuring speed to a whole new level, with 3 new must-pass speed metrics.
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
When a user arrives on your site, how long does it take for the page to completely load? Is it being slowed down by a large image or video?
LCP looks at the entire experience. It measures how long it takes for all of the elements on the page to fully render for the user.
Webmasters will want to shoot for a time of 2.5 seconds or lower.
First Input Delay (FID)
At what point does your page become interactive or clickable?
This is not simply the measurement of when images start to appear on the screen. The FID metric measures how long it takes for a user to be able to actually interact with the page.
These interactions could include:
· Clicking on a link
· Tapping on a button
The idea score is 100 milliseconds or lower.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
One of the most frustrating things that a user can experience is clicking on the wrong link or button because the layout of the page shifted at the last second.
The CLS metric seeks to help prevent this issue by forcing webmasters to look at how long it takes for the page to stop shifting during the loading process.
It measures the total number of unexpected layout shifts that happen while a page loads. Layout shifts are defined as any visible element changing position from one rendered frame to the next.
This is calculated through a complex and proprietary scoring system, but the target score is 0.1.
There are a number of tools available that can help site owners measure these new metrics and make the appropriate changes. This could include PageSpeed Insights, Search Console, the Web Vitals Chrome extension, and Chrome UX Report API.
Most popular third-party tools are also expected to have Core Web Vitals integration soon, if they don’t already.