<< back How to optimise web user experience to get more visitors

We need to talk about your largest contentful paint. That’s not a reference to people who enjoy decorating (there are some) but the latest changes Google has made to its algorithm.

And if Google makes changes to its algorithm, organisations with websites should take notice because they could well affect how visible they are online and so how many visitors they attract.

Our article explains these changes and gives some practical advice for how to make sure your website is set up to take advantage of them – so you get more web visitors not fewer. We also explain the digital decorating.

Core Web Vitals just got more important

From May 2021, Google is updating its algorithm to include Core Web Vitals as a ranking signal.

Core Web Vitals are performance indicators created by Google to measure user experience.

Ranking signals, also known as ranking factors, are any characteristics of a website that a search engine algorithm uses to determine its ranking, i.e. where it appears in search results.

So, if ranking signals tell Google that a website or page is less convenient to use, those pages will be ranked lower.

Pages that do well are ranked higher and so are more likely to be seen. There are a large number of ranking signals, including mobile-friendliness and HTTPS-security.

The key message following this latest change is that it is now more important that you make sure your Core Web Vitals are in a healthy state.

Core Web Vitals – 3 kinds

Google introduced Core Web Vitals to give site owners the ability to measure the speed, responsiveness, and visual stability of a webpage, all of which affect how a user experiences and interacts with your site.

There are 3 Core Web Vitals that relate to user experience:

Loading: A webpage should be quick to load, ideally 2.5 seconds or faster. Google calls this Largest Contentful Paint.

Interactivity: When your webpage has loaded, you want the “Buy Now” button to work straight away. In Google jargon this is called First Input Delay.

Visual Stability: This has to do with preventing annoying and unexpected movement of page content. This is what Google calls Cumulative Layout Shift.

Google says: “Core Web Vitals are a set of real-world, user-centred metrics that quantify key aspects of the user experience. They 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!)”

Aims of Google’s update

Google says its update is designed to make browsing more convenient for the user. So, along with existing ranking signals, it will consider the experience a user has when browsing your site to determine your site ranking.

So, if your site is slow to load, not only do you risk losing prospective customers, your search engine ranking could also suffer.

However, Google has re-confirmed that having relevant and engaging content is still the best way to differentiate your site from another with similar content.

Google says: “A good page experience doesn’t override having great, relevant content. However, in cases where there are multiple pages that have similar content, page experience becomes much more important for visibility in Search.”

How do I improve my websites Core Web Vitals?

It’s a good idea to start measuring your websites Core Web Vitals as soon as you can to avoid potentially losing valuable rankings in competitive Google searches.

There are tools available such as Google’s Page Speed Insights tool which can advise of the action to take but to get you started, we’ve put together three simple steps you can (and should) take now to improve your websites Core Web Vitals:

  1. Implement Lazy Loading of images

    If there are a lot of images across your site, it’s crucial to implement Lazy Loading to ensure your page loading times aren’t affected. Lazy Loading will only load an image as it becomes visible in the user’s browser, instead of loading every image when a page is opened. This will help the page load quicker.

  2. There are several ways of implementing Lazy Loading – you can either create your own JavaScript code to load the images when needed, or if you are using WordPress you can use a pre-built plugin such as A3 Lazy load.

  3. Optimise your images

     Images often make up the majority of a web pages size, so naturally they should be the first thing to look at when trying to reduce your sites size and speed up loading time.

    The best way to optimise your images is to convert them to a format such as Google’s WebP, which can reduce image size by between 25% and 34%.

    However, not all browsers (including Safari) support the WebP image format so you will need to provide a fallback option (in PNG or JPEG) for older browsers.

    For WordPress users, it’s advisable to use a plugin that will optimise the images in your media library when they are uploaded.

    For small websites, there are plugin options such as WP Smush, however for larger websites we have our MATM Toolbox plugin that can provide this functionality for your WordPress website.

    For more information on this, get in touch on 01952 883 526.

  4. Improve your server response time

    One of the easiest ways to speed up your website is to improve your server’s response time. The longer it takes a browser to receive data from your web server, the longer it will take for your site to load.

    Many things can contribute to this, such as how fast your hosting server is and where your web server is located in relation to your users.

    Using a content delivery network (CDN) can help with this. A CDN, such as Cloudflare is a geographically distributed group of servers which work to provide a fast delivery of content such as images, JavaScript and Stylesheets.

    By using these servers you’re reducing the distance between your website visitor and your websites main server so your site can load quicker, and your visitors are more likely to continue browsing.

    Another way to increase your server’s response time, is to review the plugins you are using on your site. If you have any that are not being used or you no longer need, then it’s best to remove them as they could be costing you load time.

    Put simply, optimising your website to ensure it offers the best user experience possible AND combining this with relevant and engaging content will improve your site’s ranking and help attract new visitors.

If you have any questions about this latest Google update or would like to find out how we can support you and your website, give us a call on 01952 883 526 or email us on [email protected]