What are Google Core Web Vitals? You’ve probably heard of them or seen the terms used before, but what exactly are they? And how do they affect your site?
In this post, you’ll learn everything you need to know about Google Core Web Vitals and how to improve them on your WordPress website. First, we’ll talk about how they work and the three metrics Google uses to evaluate your site. Then, we’ll show you how to test your current vital scores. Finally, we’ll show you how to improve them. While this process can seem complex, it’s actually quite simple.
Let’s get started!
What are Google Core Web Vitals?
First and foremost, let’s talk about what Google Core Web Vitals (often just called “Web Vitals”) are and why Google has them.
Web Vitals are a number of different metrics Google uses to evaluate your site. They include things like page speed, how interactive the page is, UX/UI, distracting images or other elements, and how much the design changes while scrolling down the page.
These metrics are designed to make it easy for website creators to improve their site and make it more user friendly. So, what are the metrics?
Metrics Google Uses
Google uses three metrics to determine your Web Vital Score: LCP, FID, and CLS. Each one measures a different aspect of your site. While these terms can seem a bit technical, in actuality they are fairly straightforward. Let’s look at each one:
LCP stands for Largest Contentful Point. This essentially just measures the initial load time of a web page. Specifically, it measures the perceived load speed of the “main content.” Main content refers to the largest image or text block viewable on the page when it begins to load – and not the entire page.
This is important to understand, as it doesn’t measure content that is not in view when the page loads – for instance, the text of an article which is only visible after scrolling down. It only measures the immediately viewable portion of the page.
FID stands for First Input Delay. This metric is a little more nuanced, but basically just refers to UX interactivity and responsiveness. A lower (better) FID score means that your page is responsive and reacts quickly to any user interaction. For example, when they press a button or click on a link, FID measures the time from the user action to the process beginning.
Your website should make it very easy for the user’s browser to begin processing the action. If a user clicks on a button but it takes a few seconds for the action to begin, your FID score will be worse, as this has a negative effect on the user experience.
Finally, CLS stands for Cumulative Layout Shift. This tracks how much the layout shifts after the page has fully loaded. This is usually caused by one of two things:
- Elements like images are loaded a significant amount of time after the page itself loads (usually asynchronously)
- The user clicks on a button or performs another action, which then causes the original layout to change in a confusing way.
The CLS score is based on the largest “burst” of unexpected layout shifts. A burst is when multiple layout shifts occur in a row, with less than 1 second in between each one. So, if you have more than one layout shift, your score is worse.
Why Google Core Web Vitals Matter
Now we know what Google Web Vitals are. But why do they matter? And how do they affect your website and Google’s search results?
Major Effect on SEO
The biggest impact of your Vital Web score is on Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. To evaluate your website, Google uses Web Vitals – along with other metrics like mobile-friendliness, SSL, pop-ups (or lack thereof), and content quality.
As such, making sure that your Web Vitals scores are good is very important if you want to improve your SEO and appear higher in search results.
If you run an eCommerce website, you’ll also want to improve your Web Vitals. Websites that load slowly, have sluggish buttons and UX elements, and have frequent layout shifts will scare away potential customers. A slow site seems less reliable and makes customers hesitant to input payment information.
Tom Fanelli Explains How To Improve Google Core Web Vital Scores Using GTMetrix
Prefer to watch a walkthrough video instead of reading text? No problem – check out our video webinar on using GTMetrix to optimize your site performance. We cover a variety of different things you can test, then show you how to improve them.
How to Test Your Current Core Web Vitals
Let’s now turn to your website and talk about how to test your own vital scores. Depending on your technical skills, there are a variety of different ways to do this. The easiest way to check them, however, is via Google Page Insights, so we will mostly focus on that.
Note that it is normal for there to be slight differences between each tool, so don’t worry if the numbers are different. Likewise, the desktop and mobile test results will vary.
Google PageSpeed Insights
Google offers a tool to analyze Web Vitals for you. It’s called PageSpeed Insights and it will give you a ton of data about your site.
To run a test, simply type your website’s URL into the bar and press Analyze. Once the test is completed, you’ll see the results. The first item covers Core Web Vitals.
If the scores are not satisfactory, the bar will be red. You can also click Expand View to see more details. You should also switch the setting to Desktop to make sure that your scores are good enough there, too.
Now let’s briefly cover a few other options for testing your Vital scores.
Google Search Console
The Google Search Console is a tool you can set up with your website to get feedback and tips for improving your Google search results performance. Unlike PageSpeed Insights, it requires you to verify that you own the domain by adding a TXT record to your DNS confirmation.
Once you do this, you can log into the Google Search Console admin panel and then find the Core Web Vitals tab on the left sidebar.
The Web Vitals Extension
If you use the Google Chrome browser, there is now an extension you can install to check your Vital scores right in the browser. It’s called Web Vitals and you can download it from the Chrome Web Store.
Once you install the extension, simply navigate to your website’s URL, click the extensions button in the top navigation bar, then on the Web Vitals extension. After a moment, you’ll see the Web Vitals results:
Chrome DevTools and Lighthouse
Another option for Chrome users is the DevTools suite of web development tools, which is built into the browser itself. One of these tools is called Lighthouse and it allows you to check the Web Vitals scores.
To open Lighthouse, navigate to your website and then right click on the page. Select Inspect and then choose the Lighthouse tab at the top:
Once there, click Generate Report and wait a moment for the report to be created. This report includes scores for accessibility, SEO, performance, and other metrics.