In order to make performance evaluation easier, on May 28, 2020, Google launched Core Web Vitals, a set of three user-centric metrics called LCP (or Largest Contentful Paint), FID(or First Input Delay), and CLS (or Cumulative Layout Shift).
They were designed to help focus on the improvements that are most important when it comes to a seamless and enjoyable user experience.
Google began rolling out the Page Experience update on mobile devices between June and August 2021.
It’s important to understand that the global trend from Google (who is more or less shaping the internet and how we interact with it) is to make everyone develop mobile-friendly websites. This is why the Core Web Vitals are already official ranking factors for the mobile part of the search algorithm.
A big part of the world, India, and Africa, have almost no or low access to the internet and use devices with small screen resolution and slow connection. Google wants to shift webmasters' focus on improving their mobile versions of their websites in order to facilitate access for everyone, no matter their technology or geolocation.
However, although the main light is set on mobile, the desktop traffic also matters a lot - this is why the Core Web Vitals will also become official Google Search ranking factors in February 2022.
This post will cover the core principles non SEOs need to know in order to come out of these updates standing.
How can you know how your website is performing?
Visit g.co/chromeuxdash to get started.
This will lead you to the CrUX (Chrome UX) community connection page, where you may specify the origin from which the report should be generated (a.k.a - your website). Note that you may be required to answer permission or marketing preference questions.
You’ll get a report that depicts how your pages perform (sometimes called field data), broken down into:
- metric type
- URL groupings (groups of similar web pages).
Note that this is based on real-world usage data and that it only contains URLs that appear in Google Search (which if you think of it makes total sense as the big G is giving you feedback on pages that are indexed in the search engine).
With the help of the CrUX report, you’ll be able to see how your users are actually consuming the content of your website. Are they able to quickly see the content? Can they scan the page in a couple of seconds?
This is huge news in an era where people are switching from desktops to phones and the internet connection is not always the best. Using this report you can promptly identify pages that underperform thus delivering a poor user experience that would lead to a loss of organic traffic (as the Core Web Vitals are directly correlated with search rankings) and potential sales.
Whether or not a URL is part of a Search Console property, the CrUX database collects information about any page that’s indexed. URLs are given the ratings Poor, Needs Improvement, and Good, per each core web vital, and broken down per device type.
What can you do about your scores?
You can use free tools such as Lighthouse in Chrome DevTools, Google Search Console, and PageSpeed Insights to identify and optimize your LCP, FID, and CLS scores. While the CRuX report is more like a top-level report that you can check on a monthly basis and see how things evolve, these tools provide actionable insights and problems that one can tackle in order to work towards satisfying the thresholds for each metric.
It’s a powerful strategy to periodically check these tools and analyze the set of problems the tool indicates, and then discuss with your tech team to work towards fixing them.
What about Core Web Vitals for Desktop rankings?
Beginning in February 2022, Google will include page experience into their desktop ranking algorithms. The implementation is expected to be finished by the end of March 2022. This new ranking system will be based on the same page experience signals that Google introduced earlier this year for mobile.
Before Core Web Vitals becomes a desktop ranking indicator, and in turn, the CrUX report provides a desktop overview, Google announced that they will provide a Search Console report to help site owners understand how their desktop pages are performing in terms of page experience. The report is currently dedicated to your mobile URLs and it can be accessed using this URL: https://search.google.com/search-console/page-experience
An example of a report showing what % of a website's pages are good in terms of LCP, FID, and CLS and the number of impressions they attract. This way you can clearly see what percentage of your website provides a good page experience.
Core Web Vitals are definitely not something a marketer should ignore, and it's more important than ever to identify your website's weak spots and optimize your page experience as soon as possible. I hope this post makes navigating the page experience update less daunting.