While we saw some important changes in 2021 and we expect to see more over the course of 2022, the tried-and-true digital marketing practices that have worked in the past will continue to serve you well into the future.
Provide a great user experience on your website pages
Back in May 2021, Google introduced its Core Web Vitals update, which rolled out over the summer months. This update is all about improving page experience signals that measure how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page. At the end of the day, Google is looking to provide the best answers to people's questions while at the same time providing a great user experience – in its essence, it really is that simple.
Simple as it may be, however, it's not always that easy to achieve!
How do you improve your page experience based on Google's Core Web Vitals?
Google introduced three new page experience signals as part of its Core Web Vitals update:
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
Largest Contentful Paint is the metric that measures the time a website takes to show the user the largest content on the screen, complete and ready for interaction. Google defines that this metric considers only the content above the page's fold, meaning everything that appears without scrolling.
LCP is all about page loading speed and improving it makes a lot of sense – we have all sat there waiting for a web page to load, so we know how it feels to have a bad user experience in this regard!
First Input Delay (FID)
First Input Delay measures the time from when a user first interacts with your site to the time when the browser is actually able to respond to that interaction. Put another way, it's the length of time between when content is painted on the page and when all the functionality on that page becomes interactive.
FID is all about interactivity, which also makes sense from a user experience perspective – the faster you can interact with a page, the better the user experience.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
Cumulative Layout Shift is the unexpected shifting of webpage elements while the page is still downloading. The kinds of elements that tend to cause shift are fonts, images, videos, contact forms, buttons and other kinds of content.
CLS intuitively makes sense – when a user visits a website, they need to feel a sense of trust and if things are shifting around, it's easy for trust to be lost – we don't typically trust "shifty" people and we are similarity distrustful of shifty websites!
Of the page experience signals introduced in Google's Core Web Vitals update, however, this one is the most complicated to understand and fix and is perhaps the most technical.
How to Measure Core Web Vitals
Measuring core web vitals is relatively easy and there are several tools available to get the job done.
One way to measure core web vitals is in your Google Search Console. Search Console has a new report specifically for measuring core vitals and the report will identify pages that request attention based on data from the Chrome UX report. Some URLs may be omitted if they do not have a minimum amount of reporting data, however, so it's important to keep that in mind.
A tool we like to use for much of our SEO research and analysis is Semrush, which now includes core web vitals as part of its Site Audit tool. At CIPR Communications, we add all our clients' websites to Semrush's site audit tool and we actively manage core web vitals as well as many other website health metrics in this way.
Another tool we like to use quite a bit at CIPR Communications is GTmetrix, which is powered by Google's Lighthouse and provides really great information about web vitals. GTmetrix is free, super easy to use, fast and convenient. It also provides very detailed and specific recommendations about what is causing issues and what needs to be done to make improvements.
Core Web Vitals Need Improvement – What To Do?
Now that you have measured your core web vitals and found some potential deficiencies – how do you fix them?
This is where things can get a little more complicated and the obvious answer is – it depends!
Our recommendation is to hand it over to the experts rather than trying to tackle it on your own. CIPR's web development team is truly an amazing resource and most of the time, we can fix these issues for you in a matter of a few hours. We typically take this work on an hourly basis, and we will provide you with an estimate of time upfront so that you can budget accordingly.