What Are Google Core Web Vitals?

Team member - Daniel Hales By Daniel Hales |
Published 08/02/2021

You may have heard about the Google Core Web Vitals update which is coming in May 2021. But what exactly are these and what’s the effect going to be?

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)

The Largest Contentful Paint is the amount of time it takes for the visuals to load onto the page. There may still be other things loading in the background after the LCP.

It’s important to keep this as low as possible, doing so will mean that pages appear to load fast to the user and they can start seeing the content they came to see as fast as possible.

Google would like to see LCPs under 2.5 seconds.

First Input Delay (FID)

First Input Delay measures the time between someone taking an action on your website, such as clicking a link, and the time it takes for that action to be processed.

This is especially important for actions which don’t take the user away from the page, such as selecting tabs or zooming in on images, as you don’t want your website’s users to be waiting around when they take actions such as this and can make the overall feel of your website slow.

Google would like to see FIDs under 100 milliseconds.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

Cumulative layout shift measures how much a website moves around once loaded. Things such as sliders with different heights and some pop ups can cause these effects.

CLS can especially be frustrating to users especially when they’re trying to take an action, such as clicking a link or button and the page shifts moving what they’re trying to click on.

Google would like to see CLSs under 0.1.

Effect On Search

The big question is what impact is this going to have on search. Are we going to see big shifts where only the fastest pages rank or are the changes going to be somewhat limited due to most websites being to a reasonable standard?

We’ll only truly know the impact once the update has been rolled out, but our initial thoughts are that this may be similar to the ‘Mobilegeddon’ update back in 2015. As most sites were already mobile friendly there was limited change to search results. (Some of this may be because of the early announcements which pushed people to invest in mobile friendly websites before the update was released.)

The important thing to do is to make sure that you’re tracking any changes which happen when the rollout of the update happens. If you see drops in traffic or rankings during that time it’s most likely to be down to that update and you’ll then know that you need to work on your Core Web Vitals.

Find Out Yours

If you want to find out yours you can use the Pagesight Insights tool by Google. This gives you each metric along with a traffic light system telling you whether it’s good, could be improved further or poor. If it’s coming back as poor we’d suggest looking into it further, not only for SEO reasons, but because it will help deliver a better experience to your website’s users.

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