Google’s Core Web Vitals
The Core Web Vitals is a relatively new update that was released in May 2020 by Google. This is a function used to measure the performance of your website by reviewing user-focused metrics.
It’s no secret that Google focuses heavily on the user experience as a major ranking factor, and we should too – if we want to compete in the forever changing Google search results.
Google says it themselves; “Optimising for quality of user experience is key to the long-term success of any site on the web.”
Currently, the Core Web Vitals include LCP, FID and CLS, all representing a distinct facet of the user experience – loading, interactivity, and visual stability. Each of these is measurable in the field and reflect a critical user-centric outcome.
Site speed has always been an important factor when it comes to ranking in Google and improving the user experience. In fact, every second longer your website takes to load, you can expect an 8% increase in your bounce rate.
By using GT Metrix you can see how your website measures page speed. I recommend registering an account so you can change the crawl location.
Let Google measure your website’s performance and Core Web Vitals with the Measure Tool.
So, what metrics is Google analysing?
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
LCP measures your sites loading performance. This determines of long it takes for your websites largest content element, most commonly a hero image or heading text, to become visible within your visitors’ viewport. At a minimum, Google suggests that to provide a good user experience your page’s LCP should happen within the first 2.5 seconds of loading.
However, GT Metrix indicates that your site should be around 1.2 seconds or less for a great user experience.
First Input Delay (FID)
FID measures the interactivity of your website – meaning how long it takes for the user to be to interact and use the page. It is recommended that your pages should have an FID of less than 100 milliseconds to achieve a good user experience.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
CLS is a measure of visual stability. Basically, the movement of your website while it is loading. For a good user experience, Google suggests that all pages should aim for a CLS score of 0.1 or less.
As mentioned earlier, the Core Web Vitals update is still very new, only being released by Google in May of 2020. As the search engine giant learns and improves its algorithm, the makeup of Core Web Vitals will evolve over time. This has also been confirmed by Google themselves.
For future reference, Google document all algorithm updates clearly on their public changelog.
WordPress Plugins to Optimise Performance and Speed
Caching Plugins: WP Rocket & W3 Total Cache
W3 Total Cache and WP Rocket are both WordPress caching plugins that generate static HTML pages of your website, saving them on your server. This means that instead of processing the WordPress PHP scripts, your caching plugin serves up the comparatively lighter HTML page.
WP Rocket applies 80% of web performance best practices to make your website faster!
Additionally, the plugin also applies the following features immediately upon activation in WordPress:
- Page Caching: Automatic WordPress site caching to boost load times.
- GZIP Compression: Compress webpages on your server, and decompress them in the browser.
- Cache Preloading: Preload the cache automatically, every time you make changes to your website.
- eCommerce Optimisation: Smooth and fast online stores, with the interruption of your purchasing process.
- Browser Caching: Store frequently accessed resources of your website locally in the device memory.
- Compatibility: Compatible will most themes, plugins and hosting platforms.
Check out WP Rocket here.
W3 Total Cache
W3 Total Cache increases the performance of your site by reducing load times, thus improving the search engine optimization and user experience of your website.
Check out W3 Total Cache here.
Image Optimisation Plugins: ShortPixel & Asset CleanUp
ShortPixel Image Optimisation
ShortPixel is another free WordPress plugin that improves the performance of your website through resizing, compressing, and serving images from a content delivery network (CDN).
After the ShortPixel plugin has optimized your images, the images on your website will be smaller yet appear similar to the original images. The software uses “advanced compression technology” that reduces the size of images without jeopardizing quality. Because of this, pages will load much faster.
Every second delay reduces customer satisfaction by 16%! Basically, the faster and high performing your website the more pleasant experience you can provide your users – resulting in boosted search engine rankings.
Once the plugin has been installed onto your WordPress dashboard, all images are automatically processed. If you want to enhance your website, download ShortPixel here.
Asset CleanUp scans your pages for all assets that are loaded on the website and optimizes them!
They recommend using this in collaboration with a caching plugin (WP Rocket or W3 Total Cache) as mentioned previously.
Strip the fat from your website with Asset CleanUp.