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What You Need to Know About Google's Core Web Vitals

Friday 23 April 2021

11 minute read

By Sarah Burns

In November, Google announced that page experience ranking signals for Google Search will launch in May 2021, combining Core Web Vitals and previous UX-related signals.

Of course, as web developers everywhere are probably tired of hearing the phrase ‘Core Web Vitals’, their clients may just be picking up on the changes now the May 2021 date is nearing.  

But what is Core Web Vitals and how might it impact your website and its search performance? 

The page ranking signals combines Core Web Vitals with:

  • Mobile-friendliness 
  • Safe-browsing 
  • HTTPS-security 
  • Intrusive interstitial guidelines

Core Web Vitals were introduced in 2020 and are specifically defined as: 

  • Largest Contentful Paint: The time it takes for a page’s main content to load. An ideal LCP measurement is 2.5 seconds or faster. 
  • First Input Delay: The time it takes for a page to become interactive. An ideal measurement is less than 100 ms. 
  • Cumulative Layout Shift: The amount of unexpected layout shift of visual page content. An ideal measurement is less than 0.1.

As with previous Google changes, it’s believed that Google may indicate in search results with labels which results provide a good page experience - and therefore prioritising these websites over poorer performing websites in the eyes of the end-user. 

The impending changes have had developers and web designers hard at work for the best part of the pandemic, as they prepared their sites to work in line with the new guidance.

Indeed, an August 2020 study by Screaming Frog revealed: 

[An analysis of] 2,500 keywords and 20,000 URLs to find that 12% of mobile and 13% of desktop results passed the assessment.

And a Google study in November 2020 highlighted just how much attention developers were paying to the impending changes: 

In the past several months, we've seen a median 70% increase in the number of users engaging with Lighthouse and PageSpeed Insights, and many site owners using Search Console's Core Web Vitals report to identify opportunities for improvement.

Your Core Web Vitals performance can be measured using any of the following tools: 

  • Search Console 
  • PageSpeed Insights 
  • Lighthouse 
  • Chrome DevTools 
  • Chrome UX Report 
  • Web Vitals Extension

Google envisions the criteria used in Core Web Vitals will change depending on trends and changes in the web design and UX landscape. 

For customers, it’s important to recognise that web speed and performance has a significant impact on the effectiveness of your website for customers, and Core Web Vitals can go some way to highlighting key areas of improvement. 

If you have questions about the speed and overall performance of your website, please don’t hesitate to ask our team. 

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