Back in early May, Google introduced Core Web Vitals, a set of metrics designed to measure the quality of a website’s user experience. These metrics are related to page load time, interactivity and stability.

Now, Google has announced that they will combine Core Web Vitals with other factors such as mobile-friendliness, website security and the presence of intrusive interstitials to create a comprehensive evaluation of a page’s user experience.

Core Web Vitals to be combined with other factors for Google

This evaluation will also be incorporated into Google’s search algorithm, meaning Core Web Vitals will be used as a ranking factor.

What are Core Web Vitals?

According to Google, Core Web Vitals "measure dimensions of web usability such as load time, interactivity, and the stability of content as it loads (so you don’t accidentally tap that button when it shifts under your finger - how annoying!)."

Core Web Vitals are made up of 3 metrics:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) measures how long it takes a page to load and display the main page content. Aim for an LCP of 2.5 seconds or faster.

  • First Input Delay (FID) measures how long a user has to wait to interact with a page. A "good" FID is 100 milliseconds or less.

  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) is the evaluation of how stable a page is as it loads. It measures how much the layout of a page shifts as it loads. Ideally, a page’s CLS should be no more than 0.1.

Core Web Vitals are made up of 3 metrics

It’s worth noting, however, that the metrics scored in Core Web Vitals can shift and change as the web evolves. In fact, Google has said they anticipate incorporating more page experience factors into their ranking factors on a "yearly basis" as user expectations change.

So it’s worth signing up for WooRank’s Monthly Roundup newsletter and probably following Google’s Search Liaison Twitter account to stay up to date on any changes.

How to use Core Web Vitals for your SEO

While the initial reaction to a new Google ranking factor might be annoyance, trepidation or frustration, tracking your site’s Core Web Vitals can help your SEO efforts quite a bit.

If you’ve been working in the SEO world for almost any amount of time you’ve probably noticed that Google constantly "advises" to site owners to provide their users with a “great experience” but didn’t really expound on what that might mean.

Well, now you have actual hard data you can track and analyze to ensure that you are, indeed providing users with a positive page experience.

Google Search Console Core Web Vitals

Google recently replaced the Speed Report in Google Search Console with the new Web Core Vitals report. This provides an overview of how all of your web pages perform against the new metrics, categorizing them as either red, for ‘poor URLs’, orange, for ‘URLs need improvement’, and green, for ‘good URLs’.

Core Vitals Report in Google Search Console

This is segmented by device, showing both Mobile and Desktop results. Users can then click the ‘Open Report’ link to see a breakdown of each error type, with additional information and sample URLs.

Opening the Core Web Vitals report shows a breakdown of error type

Core Web Vitals vs. other ranking factors

While providing your users with a great page experience is important for SEO, it’s not the be-all, end-all when it comes to rankings. Google is still looking at other signals such as trust factors, content quality and relevance.

These factors related to overall information quality are still considered to be the primary elements that go into determining search rankings. Core Web Vitals will serve in more of a "tie-breaker" role when two pages have content of relatively equal relevance and quality.

This means a page with poorer Core Web Vital scores could still outrank those with better page experiences on the back of better, more relevant content.

Tracking Your Site’s Core Web Vitals

There are several ways to track the Core Web Vital metrics for your website:

Google has also created an open-source web-vitals JavaScript library so site owners and third-party analytics providers can create their own tracking solutions.

When Will the Core Web Vitals Change Go Live?

Fortunately for website owners and marketers, Google is giving us plenty of advance warning before using Core Web Vitals as a ranking signal. Per their blog post, this change won’t happen before 2021 and we’ll get at least 6 months’ notice before it does go live.

Want to get the latest on Core Web Vitals and other Google ranking changes? Make sure you’ve signed up for WooRank’s Monthly Roundup newsletter for latest news and updates from Google and the rest of the SEO world.