Expert Tips for Improving Performance in a Google Core Web Vitals World

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This is a sponsored article written by Cloudinary. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the sponsor.

In our digital economy, the patience for slow page loads is running out. A slow loading page means visitors will likely bounce back, resulting in lost pageviews and ultimately lost sales. Studies show that if a page takes longer than three seconds to load, up to 40% of its visitors would abandon the site.

Given today’s competitive landscape, brands simply cannot afford to have an underperforming website. Optimizing your media, site speed and user experience is essential for successful SEO and customer satisfaction.

In this column, you’ll learn about the opportunities offered by Core Web Vitals (CWV) and hear from web performance experts where you should be focusing your SEO efforts right now for the best possible results.

CWV countdown is (always) on

In 2020, Google announced that its Core Web Vitals (CWVs), along with previous UX-related search signals such as mobile usability and HTTPS encryption, will determine the ranking of SEO pages for websites in mid-mid. -2021.

CWVs are based on extensive research into aspects of an ideal web user experience. The three metrics are Greatest Content Paint (LCP), First Entry Display (FID), and Cumulative Layout Offset (CLS), which assess load time, interactivity, and stability, respectively. visual of a website.

The launch of CWVs was recently postponed from May to a phased rollout from mid-June 2021, ending at the end of August.

In a company statement, Google said it made the move to allow businesses “to make improvements … with the on-page experience in mind.” The delay is great news for organizations given recent evidence that 47% of websites have an LCP score above 2.5 seconds, which means almost half of all websites fall into the Needs categories. ‘improvement or Bad. If an e-commerce site meets Google’s thresholds for all three metrics, visitors are 25% less likely to abandon it.

However, even with the extended time to prepare, it is absolutely critical that brands act quickly to improve the CWVs of their sites.

Experts weigh on web performance

Given the high expectations consumers have of site visits, web performance is critical to both user experience and business results. Where should you focus your optimization efforts?

Below are some highlights from our recent conversations with Tim Kadlec, Harry Roberts, Tammy Everts, and Scott Jehl, who shared tips from their research and hands-on experience with branded sites.

Brands rush to remove performance barriers

Tim Kadlec, performance engineering researcher at Catchpoint, says the company has received many customer inquiries about optimizing CWVs.

According to him, these concrete goals are “the clearest signal from Google to date on what constitutes good web performance”. Tim also adds, “I’ve seen a lot of organizations focus on CWVs right now because SEO rankings and the resulting traffic are a massive component of business success. Your reputation will be at stake depending on whether or not you achieve these metrics. “

Separately, consultant and front-end architect Harry Roberts told us that “almost all of the inquiries we’ve received in 2021 are for CWVs.” However, despite the search giant’s emphasis on the huge effect these metrics have on search, Roberts says, “I advised against panic. These metrics are just one of many ranking factors.

His advice: “Businesses concerned with speeding up page loading should focus on content delivery and metrics like LCP. Once a metric is in hand, identify the primary purpose of a page, work back from there to form a guess as to why that page might load slowly, and then correct the problem.

Speed ​​perception is hardwired

In her 2016 book, Time is Money: The Business Value of Web Performance, Tammy Everts pointed out that humans have a neurological need for simple and fast processes. She cited a study on task switching, which found that even a minor delay in website load times forces people to work 50% harder in terms of mental capacity.

A similar study she referred to on mobile devices showed a comparable spike in user frustration. “This means our brains don’t handle expectations based on a device or a task – we’re frustrated with long load times anyway,” Tammy added.

In an electroencephalogram (EEG) study, Tammy tested a hypothesis that performance affected long-term perception of retail brands by mobile users.

Here is his conclusion: “Where the only differentiator was perceived render time, those who experienced a slower site used three times as many negative adjectives to describe the brand – boring, cheesy, useless – than those who experienced a slower site. the faster version of the same site. “

New formats and tools can make sites more visual without slowing performance

According to Scott Jehl, a hybrid designer-developer at Filament Group, the tools for delivering images with HTML alone are extremely effective. He observes that “since 2016, responsive images work on more browsers. Additionally, you can provide an appropriate size on HTML by setting the attributes and on the elements .

“Why not also apply all your options with CSS and SVG for a rich look? In addition, new well-supported image and video formats such as WebM, WebP, and AVIF help stream media faster and control its weight. Tools that effectively compress media and deliver pages are a big help, especially for large ecommerce sites.

With today’s websites becoming more image and video-centric, coupled with the urgency for digital businesses to improve user experience, the timing of Google’s CWVs could not to be more perfect. Not only is Google very clear about the metrics it uses, but it also gives website developers enough time, along with very clear guidelines, to improve page rankings.

Ultimately, this initiative will lead to better experiences for online audiences and, ultimately, for Google users, a win-win situation for everyone. Keep in mind that the metrics are based on actual page loads of actual user experiences in Chrome. This meaningful data is then used to build brand awareness of a site that Google says will attract users.

With the digital economy taking precedence, optimized media will only gain in importance. Slower websites will be left in the dust, pushed lower in Google rankings where they could be completely ignored. Those with good CWV scores will get a decisive boost from Google. So, don’t let the sum of your visual media work at the expense of your web performance. Instead, make media optimization your priority now.


Image credits

Featured Image: Image from Cloudinary. Used with permission.


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