Google has defined a new set of metrics to measure the speed and user experience of websites. These metrics will be used in the Google search algorithm to rank sites based on the page experience they offer. This update is expected to happen in May 2021.
What Is Page Experience?
Google’s ideal is that users click a link in search results and the corresponding page appears instantly. Even with high speed internet connections and fast devices, loading a web page is still not that instantaneous.
Loading times are only part of page experience. According to Google, “Great page experiences enable people to get more done and engage more deeply; in contrast, a bad page experience could stand in the way of a person being able to find the valuable information on a page.”
Web Vitals Defined
Google Web Vitals are a set of metrics to help determine opportunities to improve the experience of sites. Within those new metrics is a subset of metrics called Core Web Vitals. These are intended to be real-world, user-centered metrics that quantify key aspects of the user experience.
Each Core Web Vital looks at a specific piece of the page experience to rate the perceived experience of a site. Core Web Vitals are available in all Google tools that measure page experience.
Core Web Vitals are:
- Visual stability
These focal points correspond with three new metrics:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): how long it takes for the largest visible content element to load.
- First Input Delay (FID): how long it takes for a browser to respond to an interaction first triggered by the user (such as clicking a button)
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): the percentage of the screen affected by movement — i.e. do things jump around on screen?
Page Experience and Search Rank
Google is going to use these metrics combined with existing experience ranking factors to rank page. Other factors include:
- Content quality
- Mobile-friendliness: is your site optimized for mobile?
- HTTPS: is your site using a secure connection?
- Interstitial use: does your site stay away from pop-ups?