Think Fast: Google's Core Web Vitals Are Here

Jan 21, 2021 | Search Engine Optimization

Google is elevating the importance of (fast) page experiences when it comes to search. Here's what you need to know to stay in the race.


With Google set to begin including page experience signals in its search rankings this May, it’s important to understand what those signals are and how your website stacks up. A good place to start is by learning Google’s Core Web Vitals.

Introduced in the spring of 2020, Core Web Vitals are a set of user-centered metrics designed to quantify the usability of a website. They stem from Google and industry research showing users prefer sites with a great page experience, and focus on three core signals influencing that: loading time, interactivity and visual stability.

What do each of those mean when it comes to your web design?

The 3 Core Web Vitals

  1. Loading time: How long does it take your page to load from the perspective of a site visitor? According to Google, your page’s main content should load within 2.5 seconds of when the page first starts loading.
  2. Interactivity: How long does it take before visitors can interact with your page? This can include browsing a menu, clicking a link or filling out a form. Google says the best pages will be interactive within 100 milliseconds or less.
  3. Visual stability: How long does it take for your page to look stable? In other words, how long does it take before page elements stop moving around? If you’ve ever clicked on a page element, only to be taken elsewhere as the elements load and move, you know how important this is. Google calculates this component as a custom metric valued between 0 and 1; anything below 0.1 is good, while 0.25 or higher is poor.


What does this mean for my website?

You can see how your website ranks for each of these signals through your Search Console account, and take action to improve them ahead of Google’s change to its search algorithm come this May. That’s when those Core Web Vitals will be added to Google’s existing list of page experience metrics, such as mobile-friendliness and HTTPS security, in determining its page ranking.

If your site performs poorly in any of the three Core Web Vitals signals — a likely prospect, according to a recent study — it could hurt your site’s SEO and reduce how often your site appears in search results.

Of course, Google uses hundreds of inputs in its search ranking system, and page experience signals are just one part of your website’s overall searchability. Check out the Informatics blog for more tips and best practices, or reach out for help optimizing your website. A regular review will keep your digital investment performing at a high level, no matter what the search giants do.

Want to watch a short explainer video on Google's Core Web Vitals starring Informatics' leading dog? Check out Pip's tips on Core Web Vitals as part of our Pip's Tips video series.

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