Website performance has never been more important. In 2022, Google updated their documentation to better explain what factors feed into their algorithm. Google's Core Web Vitals (CWV) are part of Google's Page Experience measuring system. They measure user experience factors including page loading speed, interactivity, and visual stability. In conjunction with other factors, the Page Experience algorithm is consistently ranked the 3rd most important ranking factor by SEO professionals; beaten out only by "backlinks" and "content quality".
Core Web Vitals are a set of metrics that measure how quickly a website loads, how interactive it is for users, and how visually stable it is. These metrics are based on three main characteristics: loading time (Largest Contentful Paint), interactivity (First Input Delay) and visual stability (Cumulative Layout Shift). The goal of these metrics is to provide users with an optimal experience while they navigate a website.
Google looks at these core web vitals when it evaluates your website's performance. If your site is slow or visually unstable, Google may penalize you in its search rankings. Additionally, if your website takes too long to load or if the layout shifts around as users interact with it, visitors may be less likely to stay on your site and explore what you have to offer. This could lead to higher bounce rates and lower conversion rates which will ultimately hurt your business in the long run.
Google Search Console (GSC) is where Google publishes your domain's Core Web Vital statistics. It takes aggregated data from Chrome users and creates an average score for each of your pages. When a page doesn't have enough data to be statistically significant, Google will attempt to file that page under a 'collection' and give it the score of a similar page that does have enough data.
If Google is unable to do that, your page does not get a score. Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to evaluate the performance of individual pages on your website in either case. Pagespeed Insights is a Google hosted version of Chrome Developer Tools Lighthouse. Both tools will help you to identify any issues related to loading speed, visual stability, mobile friendliness, and other core web vitals metrics. They also offer additional features that allow you to evaluate a page's performance against various standards and obtain specific recommendations for improving page load times. With this information in hand, you can then make necessary changes in order to continuously monitor and optimize the performance of your website over time.
This is a very open question and the answer can depend heavily on your needs and resources. It can be as simple as optimizing images for faster loading times or as complex as changing your entire Web Stack to support faster page load. Here's a shortlist of places to start looking for performance gains:
- Improve server response time
- Use a content delivery network (CDN)
- Minimize page redirects
- Optimize images
- Leverage browser/server caching
- Avoid excessive DOM manipulation
- Defer non-critical resources/assets
Improving these scores can help increase visibility in search engine results pages as well as make sure visitors have a positive experience when they visit your site. Taking steps such as compressing images and monitoring page performance can go a long way towards improving your CWV scores and overall SEO ranking in the long run!
If you need assistance finding issues and planning fixes, then you can request an audit from a technical SEO professional.