How to get ready for Google's core web vitals update


Get ready for Google's core web vitals update

One thing is for sure; the world of SEO never sits still!

We’ve got to the point when staying ahead of Google's updates is not just beneficial – it's a necessity for businesses aiming to maintain a competitive edge. Google's core web vitals update represents one of the most significant shifts in how the search engine giant evaluates and ranks websites.

This Google update brings a renewed focus on the user experience, emphasising the importance of a website's speed, responsiveness, and visual stability.

The Core web vitals update is not simply about tweaking a website's aesthetics; it's a comprehensive overhaul aimed at enhancing the overall user experience. So, read on to discover everything you need to know.

What are core web vitals?

Core web vitals are a set of metrics that Google uses to measure the health and user-friendliness of a website.

They focus on three key aspects of the user experience:

  1. Loading Performance - Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
  2. Interactivity - First Input Delay (FID) *
  3. Visual Stability - Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

These metrics are part of Google's ongoing efforts to enhance the user's web experience, ensuring that sites are not only informative but also accessible and pleasant to navigate.

* Why have we highlighted number 2? Well, this is what the most recent update focuses on, so keep your eyes peeled as we reveal what lies ahead.

How often does Google update core web vitals?

There’s no set timeframe! Google updates its algorithms and metrics regularly, with significant updates announced periodically. Core web vitals, being part of these metrics, are subject to change as Google adapts to new web technologies and user expectations.

The impact of these updates can be substantial and can significantly affect your website ranking. Staying informed about these updates is crucial, but don’t panic; that’s what we’re here to help with.

The latest core web vitals update

On 10 May 2023, Google announced that FID (#2 referenced above) will be replaced by INP in the core web vitals as of March 2024.

INP stands for Interaction to Next Paint.

What is INP, and why is it replacing FID?

INP (Interaction to Next Paint) measures the time from a user's interaction with a page (like a click or key press) to the time when the browser is able to start processing event handlers in response to that interaction. This metric goes beyond just measuring the input delay; it also accounts for processing time and presentation delay.

FID (First Input Delay – the metric that is being replaced), on the other hand, only captures the delay in processing the first input. While useful, it doesn't provide a complete picture of the user's experience on a page, especially after the initial load.

The introduction of INP aims to offer a more comprehensive measure of interactivity. It will observe all interactions within a page view and report on the longest interaction, encouraging websites to ensure that all interactions are optimised.

Impact on rankings and preparing for the update

The introduction of INP will start affecting Google search rankings from March 2024. Websites need to focus on improving interactivity beyond the initial load of the site.

To prepare for this change, websites should start by collecting real user data on INP. This involves using Real User Monitoring (RUM) providers that can collect and analyse performance data from actual browsers.

Key strategies for optimising INP include:

1. Breaking up JavaScript tasks

This involves dividing JavaScript code into smaller, more manageable chunks instead of running long, monolithic scripts.

Smaller tasks are processed faster, reducing the time the browser's main thread is blocked. This improves the responsiveness of the page, as the browser can quickly react to user inputs.

2. Reducing DOM interactions and layouts

This strategy entails minimising the number of manipulations to the Document Object Model (DOM) and reducing complex layout calculations.

Frequent or complex DOM manipulations and layout recalculations can be resource-intensive, slowing down the page's responsiveness. By streamlining these processes, you reduce the delay between user interaction and the browser's response.

3. Avoiding excessive use of timers

This involves being cautious with JavaScript timers like setTimeout and setInterval, which can delay the execution of code snippets.

Excessive or improper use of timers can interfere with the browser's ability to promptly process user interactions. Efficient use of timers ensures that the browser remains responsive and ready to handle user inputs without unnecessary delays.

4. Limiting third-party code

This means minimising the use of external scripts and widgets that are not essential to your site’s core functionality.

Third-party scripts can significantly affect your site's performance, as they often consume resources and processing time. By limiting these scripts, you can enhance your site's speed and responsiveness, positively impacting the INP score.

These measures aim to reduce input delay, processing time, and presentation delays.

Another aspect to consider is the impact of third-party scripts, which can degrade INP by blocking the main thread after an interaction. Solutions such as Cloudflare Zaraz can help by removing third-party scripts from the browser, consequently boosting interactivity.

LCP adjustments in the update

There have been adjustments to the Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) metric as well. LCP now excludes images with low content-to-size ratios. This change aims to set a higher standard for what’s considered “contentful,” focusing on images and text blocks that genuinely contribute to the user experience.

You cannot afford to slip behind when it comes to Google updates

These changes emphasise the need to stay up-to-date with Google's guidelines and metrics. It's important to remember that while core web vitals are a critical component of Google's ranking system, they are part of a broader set of factors that contribute to page experience and overall ranking.

So, if you want to master Google and boost visibility for your law firm, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our expert team today!

Contacting Social Hive

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