Written By Aaron Yaniro
We all know measurement equals management. Without tracking our performance indicators, we would be rudderless in our quest for improvement. As a business owner, you know what stats are important to your operation. But do you know what stats matter for your website?
In Search Engine Optimization, Google’s stats take center stage. You can find them all laid out within their Core Web Vitals.
“Web Vitals is an initiative by Google to provide unified guidance for quality signals that are essential to delivering a great user experience on the web.”
Basically, Web Vitals are Google’s attempt to score your website based on user experience; they touch on important aspects from load speed to layout shift. However, some argue that tools aimed at improving user experience can actually hurt your web vitals score.
For example, having a chatbot on your eCommerce site might help customers navigate your site more easily, but all that extra script could also slow your load speed down, earning you a lower score from Google. It’s important to consider these as trade-offs. Where are you willing to potentially give up search ranking position to create a higher likelihood of conversions for your site?
What are the Core Web Vitals?
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – How long does it take to load?
This measures how long you wait for a webpage’s biggest elements to load. Aim for 2.5 seconds here. A common factor slowing you down is those big, beautiful images on your home page. Yes, it’s high resolution, eye-catching, but Google loathes it. Instead, use a JPG file and compress it for faster loading.
First Input Delay (FID) – When can I click on it?
You go to a webpage on your phone you’ve been to a hundred times and your login info auto-populates, but you click login and nothing happens. A second or third click does the trick, but why the delay? Besides the fact that you have a million apps open on your phone, the webpage likely scores low for FID and doesn’t let you interact quickly with it. This contributes to a poor user experience and Google will rate your page lower for it. It’s important to note that, as the name implies, this only measures a user’s first interaction with a page. The subsequent ones are not evaluated.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) – Is it going to move out from underneath my feet?
No one likes surprises, most of all, Google. So much so, that they created a metric to measure if content is changing on a page after it loads. The chatbot, newsletter subscription pop-ups and even the cookies banner are all negatively impacting your CLS and hurting your Web Vitals. Now, there’s a lot of nuance to this element that you can read about right from Google, but the main point is that any unexpected movement on a page will put a dent in your CLS score.
What are some good tools for measuring your website?
The simplest is Google’s PageSpeed Insights. This report will give you a variety of scores, diagnostics and suggestions to improve your performance. Google’s Search Console will show you similar reports and allow you to look across multiple domains. Keep in mind is that your individual computer will affect these scores. Running a lot of programs in the background, processor speed and other factors will influence these results, so take it with a grain of salt.
One last thing
While web vitals have their place, it’s important to note here that they’re not the most important driver of organic traffic to your site. In that regard, engaging content takes the top spot. If you’re operating in a competitive space like beauty or apparel, the key is balancing your Core Web Vitals while optimizing for user experience and conversions. Google has been explicit in saying that having great, relevant content far outweighs everything else. Focus on dazzling your audience with value-driven and pertinent articles, product descriptions, and other pages, and the rest will follow.