In June 2021, Google Chrome updated its algorithm to include core web vitals in its ranking process. These core web vitals are constructed from load times, interactivity, and visual stability of the user as they load into the page. Their primary goal with this update is to prevent users from clicking on something they otherwise didn’t intend to. However, this addition will add the core vitals metrics into the necessary process to SEO on a website.
The three core vital metrics and how they are measured are:
- Largest Contentful Paint — or how long a page on any given website will take to load from the point at which the user first clicked on a link. This loading measurement occurs between less than 2.5 seconds and more than 4.0 seconds. A webpage that has a load time of 2.5 seconds or less has a good chance of being ranked higher in user searches where anything more than 2.5 needs work and load times of 4.0 or more need a serious overhaul.
- First Input Delay — which is the measurement of how long it takes for a user to first interact with your website. This interaction can include clicking on links, navigating to other pages, filling out information, etc. Anything that requires a user to interact with the website falls under this metric. Generally, an average user input of 100ms or lower is considered good and will be higher in rankings.
- Cumulative Layout Shift — is particularly important for mobile users. This metric has to do with visual stability and how long it takes for elements on a webpage to load. Slower webpages might cause a user to unintentionally click on something they didn’t mean to, adversely affecting the user experience. For SEO, this means having load times of elements at 0.1 or lower. Start to get too far above 0.1 and these load times will adversely affect the rankings of your website.
Most SEO before core vitals focused on the content of the page such as keywords, duplicate content, safe browsing, and mobile-friendliness. With this system, however, Google is taking into account user interactivity on websites to prevent unintentionally going onto a website they didn’t intend to. If you are unprepared for it, core vitals can drastically lower your search rankings.
How to Check Your Website’s Core Vital Elements
With this system, Google has also incorporated a tool called Search Console. This Google-made analytics tool looks at the website’s core vitals and gives you a basic list of how the links on the website measure up in simple terms. It will spit out a graph and list all of the affected URLs on your website while giving you a list of all the good, needs work, and poor-performing URLs.