Google's Core Web Vitals and Why You Should Improve Them: A Basic Introduction

April 4, 2024

Google's top three Core Web Vitals, displaying their titles, recommendations, and point of measurements.

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Have you ever noticed how some websites load faster and provide a better user experience than others? It's not a coincidence or matter of luck; it's all about Google's Core Web Vitals. Core Web Vitals are part of Google's criteria for assessing website performance, and they have a direct impact on search rankings.

Google's Core Web Vitals consists of three major metrics: 

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): This measure considers how long it takes for the major content on a web page to load. A good LCP score should be 2.5 seconds or less.
  • Interaction to Next Paint (INP): Replacing First Input Delay (FID) as of March 2024, this metric gauges your website's interactivity. Measuring from the instant users interact till the browser responds, the desired INP score should be 200 milliseconds or less.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): This calculates the visual stability of your web page. It measures unexpected layout shifts that occur while the user is browsing. An ideal CLS score is less than 0.1.

Beyond  the three major Core Web Vitals, another term that needs to be considered separately is the Google Web Vitals, or simply called Web Vitals. Web Vitals include the following metrics in addition to the Core Web Vitals mentioned above:

  • First Contentful Paint (FCP): Represents the duration taken from the initiation of a webpage load to the display of the first piece of content - be it text, background images, or any other elements that enhance the appeal of your website. It's desirable to aim for around 900 milliseconds to achieve optimal speed in this aspect.
  • Time to Interactive (TTI): TTI tells us how long it takes after the start of loading a web page until the most important sub-resources (like third-party resources) are loaded, and the page is able to respond quickly to user input. 2400 milliseconds is a good speed.
  • Total Blocking Time (TBT): This metric measures the time span between the First Contentful Paint (FCP) and the Time to Interactive (TTI). This can be used, for example, to measure delays in the browser’s reaction. TBT should be less than 300 milliseconds.
  • Time to First Byte (TTFB): TTFB indicates the amount of time that elapses before the browser receives the first byte of page content. The longer it takes to get that data from the server, the longer it takes to display your web page. Google recommends keeping TTFB under 200 milliseconds. At Nostra, we’re proud to say that our product suite provides 'Instantaneous' load times with an unbeatable average TTFB of under 50ms.

E-commerce owners are starting to pay more attention to these metrics as they understand the key role they play in SEO success. By enhancing their Core Web Vitals, businesses can better engage visitors and improve their search engine rankings, leading to increased traffic and potentially greater revenue. Let's dive deeper into each of the three major components of Core Web Vitals and why they are important. 

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) : Loading Performance

Meet our first metric, the Largest Contentful Paint (LCP). This metric takes into account the time required for the most significant content element in the viewport to load fully.  It's essentially measuring how fast your website appears to be fully loaded to your users. 

Why does this matter? Well, in the online world first impressions count, and a fast LCP can make all the difference. If your website loads quickly and efficiently, users are more likely to stick around and engage with your content. On the flip side, a slow LCP can result in visitors leaving your site out of frustration.

Here's a little more detail on why LCP is so crucial:

  • First impressions: It's your first shot at impressing your audience. A fast-loading website is a positive start for new visitors.
  • User Experience: It directly impacts the user's experience. Nobody likes to wait for content to load, right?
  • SEO: Google factors LCP into their page ranking algorithm, meaning a slower LCP could lead to lower search engine ranking. 

To wrap up, LCP is a meaningful, user-centric metric for understanding real-world loading experience. It's not just about improving your site for SEO benefits, but more importantly, enhancing your user's overall experience on your site.

Interaction to Next Paint (INP) : Interactivity

Now, let's dive into Interaction to Next Paint (INP), another essential piece of Google’s Core Web Vitals. So, what exactly does INP quantify? To put it simply, INP measures the latency period between a user's action or input on a web page (like clicking a button or link) and the subsequent visual update or rendering on the screen. 

Why should you keep an eye on this metric? 

  • Responsiveness: INP offers insights into how swiftly your website can respond to user interaction. A lower INP indicates a more responsive site, providing users a smoother and intuitive experience.
  • Encourages Engagement: If your site quickly responds to user inputs, users are likely to interact more with your site. This increased engagement can lead to better metrics such as higher session times and lower bounce rates.
  • SEO Considerations: Similar to LCP, Google considers INP for ranking your site in its search engine results, emphasizing its importance for SEO.

Reducing INP is crucial for website owners looking to provide a fast, responsive, and engaging user experience. Remember, every second counts when it comes to user engagement and satisfaction.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): Visual Stability

Next up, let's delve into the third vital metric known as the Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). This refers to sudden, unexpected changes in a webpage's layout while it's still loading. Such shifts can cause navigational difficulties, leading to user frustration. For instance, if a user attempts to tap a button just as the layout shifts, they might unintentionally tap a different area instead. Google recommends that your CLS score should ideally stay below 0.1 to provide a seamless and stable browsing experience. 

Why should you keep an eye on this metric?

  • User Experience: A high CLS score means a bumpy user experience. Unpredicted layout shifts are irksome and can deter users from continuing with your site.
  • Site's Trustworthiness: A smooth, stable website greatly impacts users' perception of your site’s trustworthiness, which, in turn, can significantly bolster your brand’s image.
  • SERP Rankings: Google employs Core Web Vitals as ranking factors. Hence, a low CLS score may hinder your ability to rank higher on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
  • Conversion Rates: The disruptive user experience caused by high CLS scores can lead to lower conversion rates. Users are less likely to make purchases or register for services on a site that does not perform well in their browser.

Why is maintaining a low CLS score so important, you ask? Simple—because user experience is king. In achieving a smoother web page layout, you can markedly enhance user experience by preventing usability issues upfront. And a positive user experience not only keeps your visitors happy, but also persuades them to spend more time exploring your site, which can potentially boost your conversion rates. 

How to Quickly Improve Your Core Web Vitals

Improving your Core Web Vitals is not easy. It takes a lot of work and dedication, particularly in understanding the specific criteria that form these vital metrics. However, the benefits gained can be immense, so don't hesitate to invest time and effort into understanding and improving these metrics. 

If you're looking for a quick and effortless way to enhance your website's Core Web Vitals, consider Nostra. Our product suite is implemented in as little as 30 minutes, and requires no code to install nor upkeep. brands in significantly reducing latency, optimizing page speed performance, and enhancing their Core Web Vitals, resulting in improved CVRs and CPCs.

To learn more about your website's performance and how we can improve it, book a demo with us today. 

Google's top three Core Web Vitals, displaying their titles, recommendations, and point of measurements.

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