Sean Henri, founder and CEO at Pepperland Marketing, joins the pod to talk about core web vitals, and in particular, 3 crucial metrics pivotal to ranking in Google from June 2021– including what they are, why these metrics are important, and why they prioritize these metrics as an agency and for their client base.
Based in Cheshire, Connecticut, Pepperland Marketing was founded in 2015. Over the years, they’ve evolved from being the go-to agency for clients looking to become better HubSpot users to being the agency of choice for clients in education, manufacturing, and other industries seeking help with SEO and content marketing.
Read on for more details, or listen to the full episode here:
The Metrics: Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Display (FID), and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
A little over a year ago, Google announced a set of metrics referred to as core web vitals. Essentially, these metrics center around your site’s user experience (i.e., loading interactivity and visual stability).
“The reason that they’re looking at these metrics is that they are going to be factoring in something they call page experience into their ranking considerations coming from June 2021.”
The 3 metrics include:
- Largest Content Paint (LCP)
- First Input Display (FID)
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
Essentially, “websites are going to be graded in each of these three categories shortly as either being good, needing improvement or being poor.”
Let’s take a look at each of these:
1. Largest Content Paint (LCP)
The LCP of a typical website is the largest element on the screen that a user sees when the page loads on their device (desktop or mobile); it also gauges the website loading experience or how long it takes for these elements to load.
Ideally, website owners should aim for under 2.5 seconds on a mobile device, as this is the benchmark established by Google.
“Google measures look at the aggregate over an extended period of time, about a month’s worth of real-world data to give you a score.”
Knowing where your website stands and how it ranks is a good starting point. To do so:
- You can either check Google page speed insights, a free tool that allows you to score any page on your website.
- Or, you can log into Google Search Console and then use the core web vitals report that will provide you with scores for your entire site.
2. First Input Display (FID)
First Input Display is a user-centric metric for measuring load responsiveness. According to web.dev., FID measures the time from when a user first interacts with a page to the time when the browser is actually able to begin processing event handlers in response to that interaction.
According to Henri, “There’s nothing more frustrating when you’re trying to interact with a form or type things in, and it’s delayed.”
Hence why this metric is crucial; it helps measure your overall site’s interactivity.
3. Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
“This metric is most likely going to cause you to hit the back button.”
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) measures the visual stability of your website. It has to do with the content that is above what you’re looking at.
In terms of benchmark, you should aim to have a ratio of less than 0.1.
“If there’s only a little tiny bit of your screen that’s moving around, you have a very low score. However, if there are large elements that are moving a large percentage of the screen, that score is much higher.”
Essentially, this update is a huge incentive for website owners and businesses to act, not just from the CRO, ranking, and discovery standpoints, but also for the sake of users and the frustration they might face when visiting their website.
How to Prepare Your Agency and Clients for the Upcoming Google’s Core Web Vitals Update
“As a rule of thumb, we start by figuring out what metric we want to focus on first and start there because we think that improving that metric is going to have the greatest benefit.”
So, Henri and team have decided that the first metric they should focus on for themselves and their clients is Largest Content Paint (LCP). They have selected LCP because users are unlikely to stick around to interact with a website when it takes long for the web page to load.
So to properly prepare for the update, the team at Pepperland Marketing took the following steps:
- Went through the Google Search Console’s core web vitals reports to identify why they had their LCP score of 5.5
- Used a tool called Lighthouse to get their website graded for all 3 metrics and get a checklist of things that had to be done to improve their site load speed.
- Uninstalled irrelevant and unimportant WordPress plugins that were just slowing down the speed of their webpages
- Looked at scripts on their website being deployed through Google Tag Manager and removed those that were no longer useful
Considering these changes have just been newly implemented, including the update itself, it will take a while for the Pepperland team to have stats and figures to prove the ROI of their efforts.
“We won’t know until probably August how much of an impact all these efforts are ultimately going to have. But, we expect that some of our clients (who are already in a really good space) to have a lot of number one positions.”
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