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What are Core Web Vitals and how do they affect SEO?

Core Web Vitals | 
Google places great importance on user experience for web positioning. The purpose of your search engine is to recommend to users websites where they can find what they are really looking for and enjoy a good user experience. For this reason, Google has introduced a new ranking factor based on user experience, the Core Web Vitals . These metrics are based on three fundamental aspects of positioning, and the pages that fulfill them will see how they reach better positions in the results pages.
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What are Core Web Vitals?

Core Webs Vitals are three new Google metrics that have the function of measuring the user experience provided by a web page. These metrics are based on several main factors for their calculation, and their value has a direct impact on web positioning.

The key factors for calculating Core Webs Vitals are:

  • Loading time.
  • Website interactivity.
  • Visual stability.

Can I improve SEO by improving Core Web Vitals?

The answer to this question is simple, yes, improving Core Web Vitals is essential for Google to better position a website in its results pages. User experience is among Google’s ranking priorities, and these metrics have been developed based on it.

What are the Core Web Vitals?

As we discussed earlier, Core Web Vitals are three metrics based on three key ranking factors for Google. Thus we have:

LCP or Largest Contentful Paint

This metric is based on measuring the loading time of a website. Its value is obtained by calculating how long it takes a site to display the most important content (or that weighs the most). Typically, images are usually the largest elements, so Google usually takes into account the load of the images to measure this metric.

Therefore, in order to obtain a good LCP for a website, it is important to apply an optimization of all the elements that influence web speed, such as videos and images, the hosting used, or the optimization of the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript code. , among others.

Google’s recommendation for this metric is to keep the value of 2.5 seconds or less to offer a good user experience.

FID or First Input Delay

This Core Web Vital measures the time that elapses since a user interacts with an element of the web, and this response. For example, the time elapses between when a user clicks on a link, and its content is displayed.

An example to understand what this new metric measures can be found in an eCommerce, to measure how much time elapses between the user clicking the buy button and the appearance of the cart content.

Google’s recommendation for this metric is to keep the value of 100 milliseconds or less to provide a good user experience.

CLS or Cumulative Layout Shift

The visual stability on which this metric is based refers to the location changes that the content of a page experiences as it loads. These types of uploads directly affect the user experience as they are annoying and confusing.

For example, when entering a web page a series of links are loaded, and the user wants to access one of them immediately, but when he does, he loads more content and that link changes location so that finally the user clicks on another type of link and end up somewhere you didn’t want to go.

To calculate this metric, the number of changes in the location of the content during loading is measured, as well as their magnitude.

Google’s recommendation for this metric is to keep the value of 0.1 or less to offer a good user experience.

Tools to monitor Core Web Vitals

Google is responsible for calculating these metrics with a large amount of data it obtains from the web, something that you cannot do directly, or with the use of specific tools. What can be done using specialized tools is to monitor an approximation of the Core Web Vitals, in order to know if the web is moving within acceptable values.

Among the main tools that can be used to monitor the value of the three user experience metrics we have:

  • Pagespeed Insight. It is Google’s free tool to measure WPO, and it provides information on the loading speed and the elements that influence the guarantee of the web. Another alternative is GTmetrix, a very powerful tool, and the one most used when it comes to measuring and improving web speed.
  • Lighthouse by Google. This tool evaluates a website in the following areas: performance, accessibility, best practices, and some basic SEO aspects. It is a very useful tool to measure LCP or CLS.
  • Google Search Console. A Core Web Vitals report is available in Search Console, which allows you to analyze pages that require corrections in relation to these three metrics that are so important for SEO.
  • Core SERP Vitals. It is an extension for the Chrome browser that allows you to view the Core Web Vitals metrics of the pages displayed in Google’s SERPs. This is a very useful extension, which adds the value of the different metrics just below the title of each site in the results pages.

How to improve Core Web Vitals?

Let’s see what can be done to improve these metrics and offer the best user experience, getting Google to better position the website in its SERPs.

Improve the LCP

To improve the LCP metric it is necessary to speed up the loading time of a website and all its URLs.

There are many measures that can be taken to optimize web speed, the most common being:

  • Optimize images . Images are usually the elements that have the greatest influence when it comes to slowing down the loading time. Among the measures that can be applied to optimize them are the use of compressed formats (JPG or PNG, for example), reduce the resolution of the images, use only the images that add value, or use preload thumbnails.
  • Hosting selection . Choosing a web hosting provider is key to accelerating the loading speed, since the capacity of your web servers (SSD disks, process speed, RAM memory …) and internet connection are essential.
  • Cache usage . Enabling the use of the cache allows the web speed to be accelerated by not having to reload certain elements.
  • Optimize web code . In the development of a website, different programming and markup languages ​​are used, such as HTML, CSS, PHP and JavaScript. Optimizing the code on the web will make loading time less time consuming and will help reduce the LCP value.

Improve FID

Optimizing the LCP is not a complicated task, something that does happen to achieve a good value of the FID metric that measures the interoperability of the web.

The key is to bet on a simple and light UX design to try to be under 100 ms of reaction between a click and the content being displayed.

Some JavaScript elements slow down this time, so it is important to check them and eliminate those that are slowing down the FID. This happens because JavaScript is an interpreted language that runs in the browser itself, and therefore it is common for it to overload many times and negatively affect loading time.

If using the WordPress CMS, betting on a template or theme optimized to reduce FID is the best option, which considerably simplifies the effort and work required to do so.

Improve CLS

A very interesting tool to identify the elements that change the position of the elements of a page while loading is the DevTools extension for Google’s Chrome browser.

The main reasons for these problems that affect CLS occur are related to the incorrect marking of the dimensions of iframes or images. By correcting these values, the page will load directly, without having to move elements during the process.

Using the right fonts helps reduce CLS is important. Fonts require resources to load and can be a font that misplaces elements while loaded.

When you optimize the load speed to improve the LCP, you are also improving the CLS, because if the items take less time to load, the changes of location during the load will have less impact.

We can see how the three factors of Core Web Vitals are related to each other. This is normal because they have been designed to express the user experience offered by a website. By improving one of these three elements, you are positively influencing the other two, something that is appreciated from the point of view of SEO work.

More questions about Core Web Vitals

Let’s see some curiosities or interesting points about these three new Google matrices.

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Starting in May 2021, Google will analyze the Core Web Vitals along with four other indicators to mark the positioning of the websites in their ranking. The three metrics will be evaluated along with these four indicators:

  1. Optimization for mobile devices. The pages must be adapted to mobile devices (responsive design,), or much better, they must be developed under the mobile-first concept (first they are developed for mobile devices, and then they are adapted to desktop computers).
  2. Safe browsing. Google is giving more and more important to the security component in web browsing (suspicious content, malicious downloads, hoax content …).
  3. Use the HTTPS protocol instead of the HTTP protocol.
  4. The use of intrusive interstitial ads (ads that are displayed when entering a website and that paralyze its operation).

Google is strongly committed to the user experience when it comes to positioning websites on its results pages. With the use of Core Web Vitals, there are three metrics based on user experience that are very useful for SEO, as they allow the application of various techniques to comply with the values recommended by Google, and see thus favored its web positioning.

Monitoring Core Web Vitals with tools such as PageSpeed Insight or GTMetrix is a good alternative to ensure that the website always meets the ideal values. If any of these three metrics is outside the values indicated by Google, it will be necessary to apply different SEO techniques to reduce them and thus be able to achieve better positions in the SERPs.