SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a marketing strategy that should not be ignored. But it’s not easy. It takes a lot of time and research to get your SEO to where you truly want it to be. Even when you improve your SEO, you won’t see the rankings ...
Your complete guide to understanding Google's Core Web Vitals
No SEO strategy is complete unless you have a website performance strategy to go along with it. Why? Because if you want to rank highly in Google Search Results, you not only have to have great content, but the underlying factors of your website such as speed and performance, particularly for mobile users, must also be great. That is why Google has unveiled Core Web Vitals.
So, get ready, because we are going to teach you everything you need to know about understanding Core Web Vitals.
What does Core Web Vitals mean?
- LCP: Largest Contentful Paint
- LCP: Largest Contentful Paint
- CLS: Cumulative Layout Shift
- FID: First Input Delay (Sometimes measured as TBT: Total Blocking Time)
With each passing Google update, the skill and attention required to consistently rank highly are refined. For example, Google is now beginning to roll out ‘page experience’ as one of their ranking factors. Note that page experience is related to, but distinct from, user experience. Google has released a good amount of documentation explaining the specific website performance metrics they’ll be looking for.
While this update won’t be a drastic change, it will require your website to deliver a page experience that involves more than just speed. Page speed is important, but it’s also too broad of a metric to be very helpful.
What Are Core Web Vitals and Why Are They Better Than Old Metrics?
As Google explains, web vitals give site owners a way to quantify the user experience and provide specific steps they can take to improve. Core web vitals will address the fact that many measurement tools are tech focused — not people focused.
Google’s previous website performance metrics measured things that automated scripts, bots, and computers cared about. But Core Web Vitals relate to the real experiences of real visitors. So yes, these metrics still relate to website speed, but speed that users care about in the real world.
Users feel it when Core Web Vitals underperform.
At present, Google has established three Core Web Vitals related to:
- Loading performance, measured by largest contentful paint (LCP)
- Interactivity, measured by first input delay (FID)
- Visual stability, measured by cumulative layout shift (CLS)
These terms may seem a bit overwhelming, but they’ll make it much easier for you to improve your page experience along with your search engine rankings.
Let’s take a closer look at each one.
LCP: Largest Contentful Paint
Terms like ‘website speed’ aren’t helpful because they’re too broad and don’t really reflect what the user cares about. When you open up a webpage, you don’t need the entire page to load before you can begin interacting with it. What you do need to see are the central features of the page.
The LCP metric measures the render time of the largest image or block of text that appears within the first visible screen. This could be a photo, a video, or a text block. The idea here is, even if all the various elements in the sidebar or in smaller sections of the page haven’t fully loaded, as long as the primary content is visible, you can begin engaging with the page.
When measuring your website’s performance on the LCP metric (on both mobile and desktop devices), Google looks for a score of under 2.5 seconds on at least 75% of experiences. That earns a ‘good’ rating. A ‘poor’ rating is anything more than 4.0 seconds.
How to Improve My LCP Score
When resources like videos and images take too long to load, this also affects your LCP. By optimizing and compressing your images, you can speed things up.
If this sounds complicated, skip to the bottom for a tool that handles much of this for you.
Learn more about LCP and how to improve your score
FID: First Input Delay
A poor user experience happens when the visitor takes a specific action, and then nothing occurs on your site.
For example, when you click a link or button, or tap an image, how long does it take for your action to process? If you have to sit there waiting, that’s a bad page experience, and it will hurt your website’s performance.
Google’s new ranking factors will reward sites for having a low FID score. This score measures from the first time a user interacts with something on a webpage to the time when the browser responds to that action.
That shouldn’t take long, and Google ranks a site as ‘good’ for an FID score under 100 milliseconds on at least 75% of user interactions. Poor is anything over 300 milliseconds.
How to Improve My FID Score
Begin by running a Lighthouse performance audit, which will reveal opportunities for improving your FID score.
If this sounds complicated, skip to the bottom for a tool that handles much of this for you.
CLS: Cumulative Layout Shift
Your visitors care about this one a lot, and we’ll show you several ways to improve it later, including a free tool that does much of the work for you.
A ‘layout shift’ happens when you’re on a webpage, and suddenly everything shifts up or down a little. Ever had that happen? You’re trying to read a page and the text keeps jumping around. It’s very frustrating. And if you’re trying to click on something, it can be even more aggravating.
This shifting happens because other elements on the page are getting added or removed, somewhere outside of the part of the page you can see. This might be an image resizing, a video opening, a font changing size, a third-party ad, or a widget.
The CLS metric measures how often this happens and uses a formula to score your site for all unexpected layout shifts that occur during the lifespan of the page load. The key here is ‘unexpected’. If the user clicks on something, they’re expecting something to happen, so those kinds of shifts don’t negatively impact this score.
A good CLS score is anything under 0.1. A poor score is over 0.25.
If you know how to work with the code on your website, or have some basic development experience, you may be able to improve your CLS score by fixing features that are degrading the user experience.
How to Improve My CLS Score
- Include sizing attributes for all images and videos. Or, reserve the space with something akin to CSS aspect ratio boxes. By doing this, the browsers will set aside the right amount of space even if the image or video hasn’t loaded yet.
- Never build a page that inserts new content above where the user is unless it directly relates to actions taken by the visitor to your site.
- Handle animations carefully, if you use them on your site.
Learn more about how to improve your CLS score
How Can I Check My Current Core Web Vitals Performance Metric Scores?
The simplest way to find out how well your website is performing according to these new metrics is to use Google PageSpeed Insights. This free tool scores your site and gives practical steps you can use to improve.
PageSpeed Insights will give scores for a variety of metrics and combine them into an overall score from 0 to 100. Below 50 is considered poor, 50 to 89 means you need improvement, and 90 to 100 is good.
Here’s a screenshot showing how the main score report looks for Google.com:
Below your score report, it will give you opportunities for how to improve your score. The recommendations are very specific in some cases. For example, it will recommend specific plugins you can install and use on your site to address a particular problem. And it will estimate the time savings you can expect from making each improvement.
Here’s a screenshot of the Opportunities section.
When you click on the dropdown arrow to the right of each item, you’ll see all the suggestions for how to improve that particular metric.
Visit PageSpeed Insights to score your site
Once you reach the Insights page, enter your URL in the bar at the top, wait for it to analyze your site, and see your results.
Another tool you can use is the Core Web Vitals report, which you can access from within Search Console. Here’s how to get and understand that report.
How to Validate Changes to Core Web Vitals
Once you’ve improved the user experience and speed on your site, you want Google to account for those improvements as soon as possible. To validate changes:
- Log into your Google Search Console account and select your website property.
- Select Core Web Vitals in the left hand menu.
- Click Open Report next to the chart for either mobile or desktop.
- Select the Issue Type that you’ve fixed. For example, this might be “LCP issue.”
- Click the Validate Fix button.
This will start a 28-day monitoring session across your site. If Google doesn’t see any evidence of the issue, they’ll mark it as “fixed.” You can also return to this same page to check on validation progress and see the final result.
What if I Don’t Optimize My Site for Core Web Vitals?
The introduction of core web vitals represents an overall shift in Google’s focus on the user experience. Search engines will continue to put more and more weight on whether or not site visitors can easily use your site, find what they’re looking for, and leave happy. And if you don’t keep up with the new standards, you could see your website falling in the rankings.
Of course, a drop in rankings also means a drop in site traffic and, consequently, a drop in sales, ad revenue, or followers. But since core web vitals also directly impact the user experience, it’s also about so much more.
Whether you’re a blogger, store owner, or service provider, the experience of your site visitors is critical to your success. If your site loads quickly and provides a great user experience, they’ll be much more likely to read your posts, purchase your products, sign up for your email list, or get in touch with your sales team. If it doesn’t, then they’ll probably leave and find what they’re looking for elsewhere.
In the end, it’s very worthwhile for you to optimize your site for core web vitals.
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Three Major Factors That Affect Your Website's Search Engine Rankings
Our Monthly SEO Packages Include:
SEO Keyword Monitoring, Keyword Analysis & Keyword Strategy
We continually monitor keyword search volume and your website's keyword rankings for websites like Google search and Bing. Using our in house SEO tools, we will analyze your user behavior to track which keywords they are using, and specifically, which keywords are leading to the best online visibility and leads through keyword research. Month after month, we will use this data to inform our SEO content decisions, resulting in a website with SEO results that grow more and more useful and impactful as a marketing tool as time goes on.
On-Page SEO MonitoringCore Vitals is a new movement by Google to ensure they send their search traffic to websites with great user experiences (UX). By monitoring and optimizing the following factors, we can achieve - and KEEP - your high-ranking status:
- Regular Page Speed & Performance Testing using Analytics and Search Console
- Page Loading Speed
- Image Optimization
- Script Minification
- Backlink Monitoring and Management
- Keyword Trend Monitoring
On-Page SEO Optimization
Based on Core Vital results, we make improvements to your website to keep it performing well. On-site improvements may include: Adjusting mobile versions of pages, creating Google Amp pages, improving code, making image adjustments, etc.
- Link Building - We will create internal links from one page to another. A page targeting a specific keyword should direct to other related blog posts or similar related pages for example.
- Meta Descriptions- Meta descriptions are snippets of up to 155 characters, a tag written into the HTML that summarizes the page's content. It's what search engines show in search results. It's one of those tedious little steps that many web developers skip when looking for shortcuts, but it's super important for SEO. Every one of your pages and blog posts will include SEO optimized meta description.
- Image Descriptions - We will optimize image titles and alt texts for SEO keywords. Each image should have a detailed description as well. (This also provides better content for visually impaired users).
- Page Titles/ URLs / Page Formatting - Your page title should match your URL and h1 tag, and it should include the specific keyword. This little step makes a huge difference. Including other heading tags throughout the page with similar /related keywords is also important, as well as formatting your content with things like bullet points, numbered lists, blockquotes, etc. whenever possible. We look for every opportunity to utilize these little hacks that go a long way with SEO
Page Speed - Frequent performance checks on Google Page Speed Insights tell us how google is measuring your website's speed. We make adjustments to your website's code based on your scores.
Ongoing New SEO Marketing Content
Ongoing new content, either in the form of a new website page or a new blog post is a crucial SEO tactic as frequency and timeliness of content are significant factors in search engine algorithms.
As mentioned above, decisions about content topics should be driven by SEO Keyword data benchmarks. All the content we produce will be written from the perspective of your business, as the expert providing friendly advice to those who are searching for it. It will be written in the correct formality and tone for your target audience. It will also be Search Engine Optimized).
SEO Pillar Pages
Some of our packages include high-quality Quarterly Pillar Page creation. Each Pillar page Includes over 6,000 words of valuable content centered around specific keyword topics, in-depth answers to frequently asked questions surrounding keywords, a custom-made and original infographic, and a basic video to give an extra SEO boost. See an example of a Pillar Page we created here.
By adding a pillar page quarterly, all of the blog posts that have been published in the previous quarter we will be adding have a larger purpose - to become part of a new Topic Cluster and, ultimately, a link to your Pillar Page(s). Check out our infographic below
SEO Backlinking (Off-Page SEO) through Social Media/ Web Profile Creation
With our SEO Packages, the main purpose of Social Media posts is to create backlinks to your website. Sharing posts that link back to your new content provides you with backlinking and helps boost your SEO outreach. We also recommend making sure that you're listed with certain directories and review sites for your industries of specialty. Examples include expertise.com, clutch, Neilsberg, etc. and we can help with this.
All of our ongoing SEO services include monthly reports that provide updated benchmark data and a list of all the work we completed during the previous month.
We can also provide an SEO audit to check your current SEO rankings and see where you can improve your content for SEO. We’ll look at your online presence as a whole, and see where you can use on-page optimization throughout your website to boost your ranking on search engine results.
Ongoing SEO Consultant Meetings
While we will continually be in touch with you via email, we also schedule ongoing meetings to go over results, get your feedback, adjust goals as needed, and provide strategic suggestions on the next steps we should take together.
Other Services We Provide
- Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising
- Google Analytics
- Website design
- Marketing strategy
- Marketing services
- Content creation
- Online marketing
- Email marketing
- Social media marketing
- Graphic Design
- E-commerce web design
- How do I improve my page speed performance?
This entire article is devoted to help you improve your page speed performance.
The best way to get started is to visit https://pagespeed.web.dev/ and scan your website. It's free, and you'll be given a list of every issue that affects your Core Web Vitals. You may not be able to fix everything, but at least you can fix some of the issues and improve your score.
- What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is a process that increases the visibility of your website. When your site is optimized for SEO, it ranks higher on search engines, and therefore you get more organic traffic from organic searches.
Search engines use bots to find information on websites and collect that information into an index. That index then ranks each website based on hundreds of factors. This ranking determines how high up on a search engine your website will appear. Optimizing your website for SEO based on these ranking factors is what helps your website appear closer to the top of the search engines.
One of the most important factors when it comes to SEO is targeting specific keywords. A keyword is a single word or a short phrase that describes the content on your webpage. Using keywords targeted at your audience helps that audience find your webpage more easily.
As a result, when people are able to find your website more easily from an organic search, not only does it drive your business, but it also improves your lead generation and conversion rates.
- What is local SEO?
Local SEO is the same as regular SEO with one difference. Local SEO helps you get found in local search results. This is great for businesses with a physical location or for businesses that serve a specific geographical location.
Local SEO helps you appear higher on search results when people search for your business's services in your designated area.
- How do I rank higher on Google?
Optimizing your website for SEO will help you rank higher on Google. There is an algorithm to follow when it comes to creating SEO-optimized content for your website. Not only does each individual web page need to be SEO optimized, but you'll also need to frequently update your website with SEO content to improve your rank.
Frequent SEO content is most easily done in the form of blogging. Long-form blog content that targets problems related to specific keywords is a great way to improve your ranking on Google.
SEO Pillar Pages are also a great way to target specific keywords and draw customers to your website by providing them with additional information about the targeted keyword.
- What is an SEO Pillar Page?
An SEO Pillar Page is an informational webpage that centers around a topic cluster and targets either a broad or a specific keyword related to your business.
This page is usually robust in content and links to other pages on your website with even more information, or it links to other sources of authority.
The purpose of this type of page is not just to drive your SEO higher, but it also establishes your business as a source of information and authority.
- How do I choose the right SEO keywords?
Lots and lots of research! The first thing you need to ask is "Who is your target audience?" Once you know whom you are speaking to, you can get a better idea of what problems that group is having. That problem acts as a guide for your keyword choice because it is something that your audience is actively searching for.
For example, let's say your business is a medical office. If your target audience is males and females between the ages of 25-35, you probably don't want to target keywords like "geriatric health" because people within that target audience won't be looking for information on geriatric health. A more relevant keyword may be something like "maintaining an exercise schedule while working full-time".
Targeting what are called "long-tail keywords" are more likely to rank higher on search engines. A long-tail keyword is specific and consists of three words or more. A short-tail keyword is usually only one or two words and broader. An example would be instead of targeting the keyword "health" you'd instead want to target "staying healthy in your 30s".
- How can I compete with large corporations’ search engine marketing when I have a small business?
If you have a small business, or a local business, you can still rank high on search engines even when they are dominated by large companies. While being number one on a search engine results page (also called SERPs), is a great goal to have, it’s not always possible when you are competing with national or even global brands. However, with good internet marketing, and well-strategized SEO, you can still have your business show up in the first few pages.
- Can't I just hack my way onto the first page of Google?
No! This is considered negative SEO, something you want to avoid at all costs. Using negative SEO to "hack" your way to the top of search engines can permanently damage your SEO and even get you banned from Google.
- How do I choose the best SEO company in Fresno?
We know that choosing a company that fits your needs isn't easy. There are a few things to consider when choosing an SEO team who is right to do your SEO work:
Ask for their stats. It's okay to ask for proof that the SEO service provider will do what they say they will do for you.
Make sure the company's values align with yours. You want to work with a company that wants the same thing you do. If you have too many clashing ideals, it may be more headache than it's worth.
Price is important, but be wary of low-price SEO companies. Budgets are definitely important to consider when looking for a company to do your SEO. However, the risk with low-price companies is that you might not get results. The scarier thing to consider is that the company may cause long-term damage to your website if they do SEO incorrectly. It is possible to get blacklisted on Google for several reasons when it comes to SEO.
Meet with the company, and ask as many questions as you can. If you're able to, try to meet the company in person to find out more about their processes and procedures and just to see if they're a fit overall. Also, don't be afraid to ask questions! If you have any confusion about anything, ask about it. The company should be able to answer any questions you have.
Why Hire WorldLight Media for your SEO?
We are a small, full-service SEO agency offering amazing customer service, and world-class SEO Services at a lower price than the big cities.
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