CDN Benefits
29 Sep 2020

Core Web Vitals: How Google Will Rank your Site in 2021

Core Web Vitals are metrics that focus on the user experience as a webpage renders in a user’s browser. Historically, Google’s Page Rank algorithm concentrated on overall page load speed and mobile-friendliness. However, a recent blog post from the search engine giant stated that people prefer sites that deliver a superior page experience. Their research determined that a modern web user demands a responsive, visually stable, and fast service. Subsequently, Google announced that these factors would play a vital role in determining a site’s page rank. As a result, they will update their algorithm to reflect this requirement in 2021.

Ensuring your site appears on the first page of a Google search is crucial in today’s digitally-driven economy. Every commercial need typically starts with a web search, and enterprises that appear on the first page have a distinct advantage over their competitors. As a result, every online site and service must align their development strategy and create pages that attain a favorable Google ranking. Organizations must build with the end-user in mind while incorporating Google’s core web vitals in their performance measurement criteria. Not only will this development strategy align with the new ranking algorithm, but it will also deliver the experience users demand. 

What are the Core Web Vitals?

Google categorizes three performance metrics as central to the user experience labeling them the core web vitals. These are the Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), the First Input Delay (FID), and the Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). They measure loading performance, interactivity, and visual stability. Together they determine and quantify a holistic user experience score. 

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)

The Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) measures the time it takes for the primary content element to render in the user’s browser. It is important to note that the component identified as the LCP is the loaded content in the user’s viewport before any scrolling. A load time of less than two and a half seconds for 75% or more of your users is considered a passing score. Sites that score between 2.5 seconds and 4 seconds rate as average, and any LCP metric higher than 4 seconds is deemed unsatisfactory. 

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

The Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) is the sum of all the individual layout shifts during a web page’s lifespan. This metric includes any changes that occur after user interaction commences. It also takes the size of the concerned area and the distance of the content shift into account. An ideal CLS score should be under 0.1 for 75% or more of a site’s visitors. Google considers a metric between 0.1 and 0.25 as an average measure and an LCS of higher than 0.25 as low. 

First Input Delay (FID)

First Input Delay (FID) is the time delay a site visitor experiences during the first interaction with a page. The delay in receiving feedback after clicking on a page element is an excellent example of this measure. An FID scoring under 100ms for over 75% of the user base is ideal, and a metric between 100ms and 300ms is average. Google considers any FID score of over 300ms as unsatisfactory.

Measuring Core Web Vitals

As core web vitals will play a crucial role in a web app’s Google Page Rank early next year, developers and site administrators need to assess their current baseline. Conducting the necessary due diligence and implementing any changes to improve this baseline will ensure their site remains competitive when the new algorithm takes effect. As the three core web vitals are fundamental to all web experiences, Google’s most popular metric tools measure these components.

Chrome User Experience Report

The Chrome User Experience Report currently measures every core web vital. It offers a rapid assessment but does not provide the detailed, pageview telemetry needed to diagnose and remedy performance issues. Even though this tool’s current focus is loading performance, there are plans to add more metrics and dimensions that affect user experience.  

PageSpeed Insights

Like the Chrome User Experience Report, Google’s PageSpeed Insights reports on a web page’s performance. However, this tool also provides suggestions on what actions you can take to improve speed and the overall user experience. The field data leveraged by this tool is updated daily for the trailing 28-day period, unlike the Chrome User Experience Report that uses Google’s BigQuery, where updates only occur every thirty days. 

Google Search Console

Like the Chrome User Experience Report and PageSpeed Insights, you can also use the Google Search Console to assess your core web vitals. It contains a Core Web Vitals Report that shows URL performance grouped by status, metric type, and URL group. This resource also has many other assessment tools that help you manage various aspects of your web presence. With reports ranging from index coverage to URL inspection, the Google Search Console is an invaluable resource for managing your website. 

Other Essentials

Although the core web vitals will form a crucial part of Google’s ranking algorithm soon, these metrics are a subset of other ranking attributes that remain critical. Ensuring your site is mobile-friendly, secures all traffic with HTTPS, and leverages safe browsing technologies remain essential to the Google ranking algorithm. The central message from Google’s move to measure core web vitals is that they are supplementary and will not replace the existing search ranking requirements. 

Leveraging a CDN to Improve Your Core Web Vitals Score

A Content Delivery Network (CDN) improves the performance and optimizes your website’s load speed by caching page elements. By hosting static content such as text, images, stylesheets, and JavaScript files as close to your users as possible, CDNs can help you improve your core web vitals score.  Metrics such as the Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS), and First Input Delay (FID) all rely on fast load times. By placing static web elements that influence these measures, you can meet Google’s new ranking requirements. In a digitally-driven society where every commercial transaction begins with a web search, you need to take advantage of all technologies that ensure you remain competitive. By leveraging the services of a CDN, you can improve the performance of your website, meet the requirements of Google’s ranking algorithm, and enhance the experience of your end-users.