What Marketers Need to Know about Google’s Core Web Vitals
So, you’ve checked all the boxes: bold design, nifty features, innovative layout. Your new website is live and you’re stoked.
But when it comes to website performance, Google’s newest standards are putting the spotlight on user experience. That means criteria like mobile-friendliness and page load speed are more important than ever. Because all that time and effort you spent on the front-end won’t matter if your audience isn’t sticking around to see it.
Wait, What’s New?
Those familiar with Google tools and platforms — Lighthouse, Pagespeed Insights, and Search Console — will notice new scoring metrics for loading, interactivity, and visual stability. These updates bring focus to a section of Google’s performance metrics called Core Web Vitals, which highlight the importance of everyone (not just hardcore developers) understanding the quality of experience being delivered to users.
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): measures loading performance. To provide a good user experience, LCP should occur within 2.5 seconds of when the page first starts loading.
First Input Delay (FID): measures interactivity. To provide a good user experience, pages should have an FID of less than 100.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): measures visual stability. To provide a good user experience, pages should maintain a CLS of less than 0.1.
While speed has a role in all of the metrics, Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) is the one everyone will recognize in their daily journeys around the web — nothing grinds a user’s gears more than trying to click on a link that shifts position as the page loads. This is the type of poor user experience that will now be penalized by Google, impacting a website’s positioning in search engine results pages (SERP).
Why Does It Matter?
For many, the concept of a faster-performing website to improve conversion rates is easy enough to understand. After all, retaining users is crucial to improving conversions, and high-performing sites retain users better than low-performing ones.
Let’s look at Mobify, for example. For every 100ms decrease in homepage load speed, Mobify earned a 1.11% increase in session-based conversion and an average annual revenue increase of nearly $380,000.
And it’s not an isolated incident.
AutoAnything saw a boost of 12-13% in sales after reducing its page load time by half, and retailer Furniture Village reduced its page load time by 20% and was rewarded with a 10% increase in conversion rate. Still, marketers find it challenging to incorporate website investments into marketing strategies and budgets when compared to equivalent spend in SEO and content tactics. However, website performance is one that underpins nearly all other efforts, and Google knows it. That’s why, starting in 2021, website performance results will have even more of a direct impact on SERP, moving performance from a passive “it will do” to a required “we must do” factor in remaining competitive online.
We’re Here to Help
So, where does your website stand? Buckle up and measure your current score using this tool. Those who are active in website development or recently launched a new website will have noted the sizable decline in project performance from the high 90s (out of 100) to a middle-of-the-pack 50-60 rating score. On the other hand, those persisting with earlier marketing website builds will find scores below 30 commonplace and feature-rich website ratings at cringe-worthy levels below 5.
Until now, the web marketplace has been filled with shortcuts and hacks to create the illusion of performance in both testing results and end-user experiences. Websites propped up with common performance plugins are already reaching the ceiling of capability and showing their technology age. At Arcane, we’re anticipating that marketplace-ready themes are practically in their final end-of-life cycle, meaning they will soon be doing more damage than good for businesses where organic/search traffic and conversions are required to hit goals.
If your business needs to compete for a share of the pie, then investing in your website as part of your larger digital marketing strategy is essential.
Arcane helps established and startup businesses uncover how to wisely approach the web, and more, with a unique goals-first Blueprint Assessment of your digital strategy. Contact us today to get started.