How To Improve your Core Web Vitals
Google announced in May 2020 that it will roll out a new algorithm update in 2021 that will focus on measuring how users experience the performance of web pages. Specifically mobile web pages.
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Google wanted to give webmasters plenty of time to update their websites before making it an official new ranking factor. On November 10, 2020, Google announced that the new update will be available in May 2021, nearly a year after it was first announced.
Consider this your official call-to-action if you haven’t considered what these new changes mean for your retail website, it’s time to find out.
In May of 2021, Google plans to roll out the new Page Experience Update. Google’s ranking algorithm will include the new Core Web Vitals, as well as a number of other factors. These new variables are referred to as “page experience metrics.”
Here are all the Page Experience metrics:
- Safe-browsing Https (security)
- No intrusive interstitials (pop-ups)
- LCP (less than or equal to 2.5 for 75% of page loads)
- FID (less than or equal to 100 milliseconds for 75% of page loads) CLS (less than or equal to 0.1 for 75% of page loads)
The new page experience metrics are called Core Web Vitals (largest contentful paint, first input delay, cumulative layout shift).
Google’s Page Speed Mission
Google has a long history of algorithm updates aimed at improving users’ page loading times. Since 2010, when Google first announced that site speed would be a new ranking factor in search results, the “speed up the internet” campaign has been in full swing. They doubled down in 2018, announcing that mobile page speed would be a factor in their ranking algorithm.
Page and site speed have become increasingly important since these announcements. Users are increasingly expecting faster pages as the internet grows in size and complexity.
In 2021, page speed will have a direct impact on how well your retail website ranks in Google as well as how well it converts visitors into customers. Check your page speed score if you’re not currently ranking or if your website’s conversion rate is low.
How to Get a Better Core Web Vitals Score
If you are a small business maintaining your own website without the huge IT budgets big retailers have, this seems very unfair, especially given the disruption that COVID-19 has caused in our industry. However, despite much chatter and protest online, the Core Web Vitals update is still forging ahead.
There is a considerable amount of behind the scenes work involved in improving the performance of a website that gets a poor web vitals score. While there is a wealth of information available on how to optimize your website, putting that information into practice is difficult for those who are not web developers by trade.
However, there are some things you can do that are not so hard that should bring your score up. Some of them are old tactics that you may have heard of before, others are new. Here is a look at some of the most important aspects to focus on.
Optimize All Your Images
Optimizing your images is one of the most important things you can do for your website. That one large, poorly optimized image on your homepage or landing page could be detrimental. Large images are frequently the site’s largest contentful paint (LCP). Make sure you give your visitors a warm welcome by making the load time as short as possible!
There are numerous tools available to assist you in this endeavor. For that image to be sharp on the most common screens, you do not need to keep that massive resolution. Also, try to use more modern formats, such as WebP. These formats are capable of delivering high-quality images at a smaller file size.
The use of a CDN is another piece of evergreen site speed advice, but did you know you can use a CDN specifically for images? You have more control over how you want to serve your images and how they appear with an image CDN. A string of properties in the URL of an image pushed by an image CDN tells the browser how the image should behave.
Check and Improve Server Performance
It’s better if your server responds to requests quickly. Many site speed metrics are directly improved by getting that server to respond faster. Because the server is constantly busy handling requests and serving files and scripts on complex sites, it’s best to optimize those processes.
There are several steps to optimizing your server. Upgrade your hosting plan first. Don’t cut corners when it comes to hosting. Choose one that provides good performance at a reasonable cost. There’s also the matter of how the server was set up (use a recent version of PHP! ), as well as the hardware you chose. If you find the hardware to be lacking, you may want to consider upgrading it. You should also look into how your databases work and see if there are any improvements that can be made.
You must also evaluate how your server distributes files to clients. There are several ways to improve this process, such as using link rel=preload. These are more advanced options that allow you to customize how your server handles requests. As this is complex, here again is where a CDN can help you improve your Core Web Vitals, as this work is done for you.
Third-party Script Loading Should be Improved.
Outside factors contribute to the slowness of many websites. If your website uses ad scripts, for example, you are essentially at the mercy of the ad provider. You can only hope that their ads become more efficient. If their ads take a long time to load, it’s time to look for another provider.
Chatbots are another big problem many are having when it comes to slow loading third party scripts.
You should investigate if third-party scripts are slowing down your site. Do you really need that particular advertisement? What are these scripts worth? There may be a better option available that is more optimized and less taxing on your server. Maybe give it a shot? This is possibly most important for chatbots, as retailers do usually get lots of use out of those.
Every Small Improvement Counts
With the upcoming page experience update in May 2021, Google will once again prioritize site speed and user experience. SEO should always be viewed as a whole — there are many moving parts to consider, and you should work on each one to create the best site possible. Although the aforementioned tips can help you improve your Core Web Vitals scores, you should really be doing this to provide a better experience for your visitors.