You've heard the term 'Google Core Web Vitals' floating around.

People on LinkedIn are telling you scary things about the impact of them on your website.

You're starting to wonder... Should I care? What will the impact truly be? What the heck are these Google Core Web Vitals even? What's the meaning of life?

In this article, I'll answer everything but that last question.

Short answer

For the people who don't have much time, here's the short answer. Yes, you should care about the Web Vitals:

  1. You'll only benefit from making your website as user-friendly as possible. Your (potential) customers will love using your website which means it'll probably convert better (generate more sales, more people who use your contact form, etc..).
  2. The Core Web Vitals will become part of the Google algorithm. This means that they might very well impact your ranking in Google search results.

What are the Google Core Web Vitals all about?

Google conducted several studies that showed that people prefer websites that are user-friendly (shocker, right?) and are more likely to convert on such websites (i.e. make a purchase, get in touch, etc.).

Think about it. Don't you like a website that's delightful to use?

And you're not alone in thinking that. Web users have become more and more demanding. The time that you could just throw a rudimentary website online and be done with it, is over. People expect quality. Not only in design but even more so in experience.

But, if you've been on the web lately, you'll notice that a lot of websites don't provide a great experience:

  • Slow load times
  • Pop-ups all over the place
  • Intrusive ads that shift the page after it has been loaded
  • Buttons that don't work
  • ...

So how did Google try and fix this? By coming up with a couple of essential signals they could use to measure how user-friendly a website is: the Google Core Web Vitals.

Google itself explains it as follows:

Web Vitals is an initiative by Google to provide unified guidance for quality signals that are essential to delivering a great user experience on the web.

Their goal is to make the web a better place, one website at a time, by providing objective criteria that people can use to measure how user-friendly their website is.

Our vision for page experience is to build a web ecosystem that users love—together.

What do they actually measure?

The Google Core Web Vitals are (at the time of writing) focus on three aspects of the user experience on your website:

1. Loading (Largest Contentful Paint or LCP)

How fast does your website load?

We've all been there. You click on a Google search result, only to be hanging on a loading page for a couple of seconds. Before you know it, you click back to never return again.

There's nothing more frustrating than waiting for a website to load. People are accustomed to speed. So a slow load time is a big indicator of a bad user experience.

2. Interactivity (First Input Delay or FID)

How fast can a user interact with your website?

You click on a button. Nothing happens. The website seems to still be loading certain things and is preventing you from clicking a button. Frustrating!

Slow interactivity builds up frustration and is another big indicator of a bad user experience.

3. Visual stability (Cumulative Layout Shift or CLS)

How much does your website shift/jump while loading?

You want to click on a button, but all of the sudden the page shifts because of an ad that just loaded, causing you to accidentally click on something else. That's a very common problem that makes for a frustrating user experience.

What is all the fuss about? The impact of the Core Web Vitals

Google uses a bunch of criteria combined in a top-secret algorithm to rank your website in its search results.

Recently they announced that they will update their algorithm to make the Core Web Vitals a part of it.

This means that if your website fails the Core Web Vitals, there's a large chance that this will negatively impact your ranking in Google search results.

That's what all the fuss is about.

How can i know how my website scores?

You can see how well your website scores by going to the PageSpeed Insights tool. Simply enter your URL and click on analyze.

You can also use Google Search console's Core Web Vitals report if you already use that tool for your website.

What can I do to improve my test results?

Obviously, there is no reason to panic, but it is advised to make sure your website passes these Core Web Vitals as soon as possible. This will ensure you won't be penalized in your rankings on Google search results.

At Heave, we always ensure that all the websites we develop are optimized to pass these tests with flying colors. But if you haven't already had the pleasure of working with us (a shame really), here's what you can do:

  1. Since optimizing for these tests is all quite technical, you should first reach out to your developer and ask him to optimize your website to pass the Core Web Vitals tests.
  2. If you don't have a developer, here's a couple of things you probably can do yourself:
    1. Using a CMS such as WordPress with a lot of plugins? Make sure to disable all plugins that aren't essential (to decrease load time)
    2. Make sure all of your images are optimized for web usage (to decrease load time)
    3. Make sure your host is fast and reliable. Bad hosting will in most cases lead to longer loading times.
    4. If you use ads on your website that are loaded dynamically, make sure they are placed in a container with a fixed height (this will avoid page shifting).

Conclusion: Why should you care about Google Core Web Vitals?

The Core Web Vitals are all about making the web a better place by implementing standards to measure the user-friendliness of a website. If your website doesn't abide by those standards, you'll more than likely take a hit in the Google search rankings.

Your website needs to be fast, interactive, and stable. Google will love it, but more importantly, your target audience will as well. And that should always be the starting point of any great website: how can we delight our target audience.

Maarten Van Herendael

Maarten Van Herendael is the founder of Heave. He combines his passions for code and user behaviour to create tailor-made websites that solve complex problems.

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