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Google’s SEO guidelines play a vital role in the optimisation of your website. SEO specialists and website developers use these guidelines as a code of conduct and adhere to these areas in order to achieve good rankings. Google makes frequent changes to their guidelines in order to enhance the overall user experience. Google’s most recent guideline update includes three core focus areas which website owners must adhere to in order to achieve good rankings. In 2021, Google will enforce three core web vitals including Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID) and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). Following these three metrics will help site owners create the ultimate user experience and assist Google in ranking the best pages. So, what are Google’s core web vitals and how can they improve your website?
LARGEST CONTENTFUL PAINT (LCP)
Google’s core web vitals are all created with the main objective of enhancing the user experience. LCP refers to the loading speed of your website. If your page is taking too long to load, users will become frustrated and you could be faced with a high number of bounce rates. How Google determines this is by how long it takes for the most important or largest piece of content on your page to load, this could be an image or long piece of text. The goal is to have your page loading within 2.5 seconds, this will keep you in the clear and ensure you are providing a good user experience. Anything over 4 seconds is not ideal and will impact your rankings. Remember to always optimise images and large content which could slow your page down.
FIRST INPUT DELAY (FID)
The first input delay refers to the amount of time it takes for your website to become interactive. When a user clicks on a tab or link, how long your website takes to respond and take action. Essentially FID refers to anything involving user interaction with the HTML components of your website. Google ideally wants websites to have fast website loading and quick responsiveness. If your website is taking too long to respond to users demands, this could again lead to more bounce rates. To have Google’s approval for FID, your website needs to respond under 100 milliseconds, anything over this begins to tamper with your website’s user experience.
CUMULATIVE LAYOUT SHIFT (CLS)
The final element of Google’s core web vitals to be enforced in 2021 is cumulative layout shift. This new metric relates to the visual stability of your site and how frequently the layout of your website changes. This could occur when you are visiting a website and pop ups, or ads frequently appear on screen. Having too much movement on your page, too frequently could be deemed as frustrating for users and impact their user experience. Referring to Google’s metrics of CLS, your website should score under 0.1 to promote a good page experience.
Core web vitals will change from time to time and are never permanent. This is why it’s important to always stay updated with Google’s guidelines and be informed on any upcoming changes. As site owners, it’s vital to keep track of these metrics and still incorporate other key aspects of SEO, such as creating good quality content. Consider all aspects with an emphasis on creating an enjoyable user experience. This will help Google rank the best pages which are not only relevant for searches but are also easy to navigate. Google has not set a specific enforcement date for the new core web vitals however we will be notified at least six months beforehand so we can prepare for the changes.