What Are “Core Web Vitals” and Why Do They Matter?

Core Web Vitals and What They Do
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Offering award-winning website design for lawyers, the experts at Gladiator Law Marketing know the supreme importance of search engine optimization (SEO) when it comes to driving traffic to the websites that it creates. As part of Gladiator’s dedication to helping its national client base stand out from the competition and secure new business, the firm stays up to date on the technological evolution of SEO and leverages the power of innovations such as Google’s core web vitals.

Modern SEO Understood

Everybody recognizes Google as the world’s leading internet search engine, but far fewer people understand exactly how it works. Beneath the slick graphics of the Google homepage, a complex algorithm is deciding what results appear on the screen for every search made. After all, Google is competing with other search engines to match user queries with only the best and most appropriate results.

For law firms and any other organization that attracts clients and customers online, making the most of this algorithm is absolutely essential. It can make the difference between a number one result on internet search engines such as Google and a ranking that buries your organization on the third or fourth page of results.

This is where SEO comes to the rescue. By creating content and website protocols that are designed with top search engine algorithms in mind, you can optimize your online presence for maximum search engine results and position your organization for success.

In May of 2020, Google announced that it was taking additional steps to deliver the very best possible search results to its users. Specifically, it had developed an entirely new algorithm that took user experience (UX) criteria into careful consideration.

It the broadest terms, the newly implemented algorithm means that websites that do not apply industry best practices will inevitably receive lower ranking scores than those that do. Incorporating UX into its ranking methodology, Google is taking SEO far beyond it largely semantic and search term-based basics.

Google’s Three Core Web Vitals

Assessing website performance according to how well users interact with each page, Google evaluates UX according to three essential metrics. It dubbed these metrics its “Core Web Vitals.” In the words of Forbes Magazine contributor Zach Williams, “Google has been gradually advancing the algorithm to analyze small details like these to help it provide the best content and results.”

 

Here are the three Core Web Vitals that Google now uses to assess every website’s overall UX score:

No. 1: Loading speed

Although the first Core Web Vital might sound quite complicated, Largest Contentful Paint rating (LCP) essentially boils down to the average loading time for the pages on your website. LCP places a specific emphasis on “perceived” load speed and access to the “main” content on each page.

In other words, how quickly does the principal text or media become visible to website visitors? The answer to this question will determine you LCP score.

Scored at the page level, LCP targets a range of main content types. For example, a main subheading might be the main content for a blog post, while a product image might be the main content for an ecommerce page. In general, Google looks for pages that load in 2.5 seconds or less to meet its established UX expectations. Any loading time in excess of 4 seconds is considered “poor” in terms of UX.

To boost the LCP score of your website, take a close look at all its foundational and operational elements including JavaScript, CSS, and web servers. Concentrate on reducing the loading time for the biggest displayed file on your page whether it is text, image, or video.

If you want to give your website visitors the best UX possible, a good LCP score is key. Anyone who has ever left a website page just because it took too long to load should know the power of LCP. When visitors can access your content instantly, they will be far more likely to interact with it.

No. 2: Visual stability

If you are an attentive internet user, you have probably experienced visible instability as a result of layout shifting.  Such instability is particularly prevalent for those browsing a website on a mobile device.

Whether caused by the different formatting that mobile use demands or any number of different factors, unexpected layout shifts of visible content will certainly detract from positive UX. For this reason, Google focuses on Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) as one of its Core Web Vitals.

CLS quantifies the combined total of individual layout shifts over the entire lifespan of a web page. Google accomplishes this by measuring the rendering time of elements from one frame to the next as a page loads.

A low CLS score indicates a relatively stable page while a high CLS score indicates a relatively unstable page. According to Google, a good CLS is less than 0.1 seconds. Pages that measure between 0.1 and 0.25 seconds need improvement, and pages that measure above 0.25 are classified as poor.

If you want to ensure page stability on your website, you should pay careful attention to defining image sizes in your HTML. Other factors including animations can also have a profound impact on your CLS score.

By optimizing for this CLS, can stop website visitors from accidentally clicking away from desired content and save them from the frustration of visiting a page that differs from the one they wanted to see. By enhancing overall UX, visual stability improves the SEO performance that boosts your bottom line.

No. 3: Interactivity

Evaluated by Google through the First Input Delay (FID) metric, interactivity refers to the ability of a website visitor to engage with a page using an interface such as a keyboard or mouse. Essentially, FID measures the amount of time between a user command (usually in the form of a click or a keystroke) and the execution of that command.

To pass Google standards, your website pages must achieve an FID score of less than 100 milliseconds, and any score over 300 milliseconds could prove devastating for your SEO performance. After all, any visitor who clicks on a button or fills out a field that simply fails to work is bound to feel frustrated and report poor UX.

One method of improving FID is to limit the negative impact of third-party code such as added scripts for A/B testing or digital analytics. Whether poor interactivity is caused by third-party code or not, website owners can boost their FID scores by compressing CSS files, breaking up long Java script tasks, and using “lazy loading” for less urgent content.

The Importance of Core Web Vitals in the Field of Law

Because far too many law firms fail to make SEO a top priority, precious few of them are well versed in the supreme importance of Core Web Vitals. However, any firm that wants to attract more website visitors and project a credible image online must take SEO seriously. In short, SEO is a key driver when it comes to both attracting new clients and retaining existing ones.

As part of its award-winning website design for lawyers, Gladiator Law Marketing pays particular attention to SEO and conversion optimization, leveraging the power of technical metrics such as Core Web Vitals to drive success in the legal field.

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