Core Web Vitals: An Intro Look at Google’s Next Update

Core Web Vitals is a part of the larger Page Experience update from Google. This update will have an impact on ranking factors, especially when it comes to the way images are optimized.

What is Google’s Core Web Vitals?

As one of five parts of the Page Experience update, Core Web Vitals are a set of speed metrics. They are used to measure the experience a user has with loading a page on your website.

Google first launched this initiative back in May 2020 to help provide guidance for improving the user experience. Core Web Vitals helps to change the focus from actual page-load to the perceived page load, which is more user-centric.

While a page on a website might load in 5 seconds based on a page load tool, the user might perceive it loaded faster or slower. Maybe the above-the-fold content was last to populate so the focus perceived load time is slower. However, when the above the fold content loads faster, the perceived load time might be faster.

Three Areas Covered by Core Web Vitals

Core Web Vitals provide metrics allowing Google to measure the user experience. They cover three areas of the page loading experience:

  • Visual Stability – measured by Cumulative Layout Shift
  • Loading – measured by Largest Contentful Paint
  • Interactivity – measured by First Input Delay

The old “Speed” report found in the Google search Console has even been renamed to Core Web Vitals.

Cumulative Layout Shift

The CLS will provide a score based on the measured shifts in layouts between the time a page first begins to load and is completed. It’s not a timed metric and provides a score based on how much of the visual content shifts or changes during the loading process.

Even though visual stability is a newer part of the user experience, it’s still very important.

Largest Contentful Paint

LCP measures the amount of time it takes for the largest element on a page to show up. Whether this is an image, text, or video, it will always measure the largest element found on a web page. The goal of LCP is to measure when a page actually starts to appear for a user.

First Input Delay

FID measures the amount of time between the first interaction of a user with the page and when the page is actually capable of responding to that interaction. It’s a metric focused on the delay between a user clicking on the page and the browser responding to the click.

Even when a page can visually load quickly, it may not be able to respond to the user as quick. If it’s slow to respond, this can cause a negative user experience and plenty of frustration.

Core Web Vitals have quickly become a very important part of ranking well in the Google search engine. If you want to gain better SEO, it’s important to understand how Core Web Vitals now impact how your website ranks and how a user views your website.