New ranking factors: Google’s Core Web Vitals

Lars Ruiterkamp Lars Ruiterkamp
22 - 07 - 2021

Maybe you’ve already heard of Google’s Core Web Vitals, but if you haven’t, now is the time to start looking into it. The Core Web Vitals are an incredibly useful tool to check how well your website or web shop performs in terms of site speed and user experience. Since last month (June 2021), they are officially a ranking factor for your website’s organic position in Google. In other words, the better the Core Web Vitals scores, the higher you’ll rank. What we like about it, is that user experience is becoming a ranking factor as well – whereas before, the focus was mainly on technical aspects and content. In this blog, you’ll read about what Core Web Vitals are, why they are important and how you can optimize for them.

What are Google’s Core Web Vitals?

Google Core Web Vitals are user-centric measures of your website or web shop. They focus on the loading speed, interactivity and visual stability of a website, which are quantified in 3 metrics:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): the time it takes to load the main content of a page. LCP should be 2.5 seconds or less.
  • First Input Delay (FID): the time it takes before a user can interact with a page. This should take less than 100 milliseconds.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): the time it takes before the visual appearance of a page is stable, without additional elements loading on the page (and thereby causing a ‘layout shift’). Ideally, CLS is less than 0.1 seconds.
Google Core Web Vitals
Core Web Vitals elements: LCP, FID, CLS

Why is it important to score high?

As mentioned, since last month, the Core Web Vitals are a ranking factor for your organic position in Google. This means that, in order to rank high in Google, your scores on the Core Web Vitals need to be good. On top of that, there are more benefits than getting better organic positions in Google, such as:

  • it will lead to better user experience
  • better user experience leads to better conversion rates
  • better performance leads to more value for money for your paid ads

So, in the end, you will have happier users, higher conversion rates and better value for money on your paid ads.

How well do you rank in Core Web Vitals?

Time to dive into Core Web Vitals for your website or web shop. Go to https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights, enter your website URL and perform the scan. Note that in the top left corner, you can switch between Mobile and Desktop. You will immediately see if the scores are good, need improving or are just bad.

What are realistic scores?

Small side note first. Optimizing for Core Web Vitals also means finding balance between UX, UI and performance. Sometimes there are modules that are crucial for your website or web shop’s functionality, but that heavily weigh on loading times. Having said that, scores of 90-95 for desktop and 60-70 for mobile should be achievable.

How can I optimize my scores?

There are a lot of things you can do, both technical and relating to content. Below we delve deeper into both aspects. The list with tips is far from complete, but they do provide a good starting point.

Tips to optimize technical performance for Core Web Vitals

Optimizing the technical performance of your website or web shop comes down to one thing: make sure your website is as lean as possible. Loading a lot of scripts can have negative consequences on the performance of your website or web shop. Tips:

  • Make sure there is solid, fast hosting in place. Any delays you have because of slow hosting will impact the loading speed of the whole website/web shop.
  • Only place fundamental scripts (such as Google Analytics/Google Tag Manager) in the <head> section.
  • Delete scripts that are not necessary.
  • Update your website or web shop CMS. Every new CMS will focus more on the Core Web Vitals scores. For instance: the latest version of Magento (at the time of writing this is 2.4) has a Core Web Vitals score of 90 to 95 for desktop. Out of the box.

Tips to optimize content for Core Web Vitals

When performing the Core Web Vitals scan, you will most likely see that the top recommendations have to do with the images on your website. They’re probably not in a ‘new’ format and likely they are too big in size. Tips:

  • Place images in a new format. Ideally, images are in JPEG2000 or WebP format. This is the leanest format, and therefore easiest to load.
  • Compress images. This really is a must. We frequently encounter situations where images are put on the website without optimizing image size. There are two things you need to do. First, have a look at the size of the image. It doesn’t make sense to have an image that is displayed very small on the website (such as a logo) and upload it to the backend with dimensions of 1600x1200. 400x300 is more than enough. Second, always use tools like www.compressjpeg.com to compress your images. This will decrease your image size without losing quality.
  • Implement lazy loading on the website. Lazy loading means that images are only loaded right before people see them, instead of loading all the images during initial page load. As a result, the initial load time of the page is (far) less.
  • Alternative to the above is to add lazy loading browser-side. New browsers have the ability to arrange the lazy loading for your website or web shop for you. All you have to do is add ‘loading = lazy’ to images. The browser will do the rest. This option is easier, but it’s also not airtight. After all, your visitors might be using an older browser without the option of lazy loading.

How to keep track of Core Web Vitals scores

If you’re optimizing your website’s or web shop’s performance for the Core Web Vitals, it’s crucial to keep track of how the scores change over time.

Search Console

Search Console is a very helpful tool to find pages with errors, optimization opportunities, and pages that are good. To check this, log in to Search Console and go to Experience – Core Web Vitals in the menu on the left. Here you’ll see scores for Mobile and Desktop, and the number of URLs that are poor, need improvement, and are good.

Note: not all URLs are shown in Search Console, because of the way this report is generated. Nothing you can do about it.

Search Console Core Web Vitals overview
Search Console Core Web Vitals overview


Search Console Core Web Vitals improvements tab
Search Console Core Web Vitals improvements tab

CrUX dashboard

Apart from Search Console, we recommend setting up a CrUX dashboard in Google Data Studio. This will help you keep track of the total Core Web Vitals as well as the scores on the individual elements.

CrUX report in Google Data Studio
CrUX report in Google Data Studio

Improve your Core Web Vitals scores

As a start, check Pagespeed Insights and set up tools like Search Console and the CrUX dashboard. Do you want to get a better understanding of how you score and what you need to improve? We’ll help you out. Request a free scan by clicking the button below (it will take you to Lars' email)

Want to read more?

For more info on the Core Web Vitals, check out Google’s guide to Core Web Vitals.

Request a free scan now

Lars Ruiterkamp. Lars is El Niño's marketing lead and helps clients become more successful by leveraging digital marketing tools Lars Ruiterkamp. Lars is El Niño's marketing lead and helps clients become more successful by leveraging digital marketing tools

Deel deze blog

Jouw partner voor digitalisering  en  automatisering

Bedankt voor je bericht! We nemen z.s.m. contact met je op. :)
We willen graag je naam en e-mailadres weten om contact op te kunnen nemen.

Laten we samen een keer brainstormen of vertel ons wat over jouw uitdaging. Laat je gegevens achter en we nemen z.s.m. contact met je op.