Over the years SEO and site optimization have only become more complex. In 2020 Google aimed to simplify this by introducing Core Web Vitals, a series of metrics that help quantify your websites experience and point you in the right direction to fix the issues.
In our guide to WordPress core web vitals we’ll be covering exactly what makes up your CWV scores, how these can be impacted by WordPress, and how you can fix CWV issues.
What are Core Web Vitals?
Core Web Vitals are a set of specific metrics used to measure the user experience of a web page. They focus on three key areas:
- Loading speed (Largest Contentful Paint or LCP)
- Interactivity (First Input Delay or FID)
- Visual stability (Cumulative Layout Shift or CLS)
Google considers these metrics essential to a good user experience, and they became a ranking factor in search results from in May 2021. It’s critical that your WordPress website is optimized for Core Web Vitals if you want to rank organically. It’s also important because the factors that CWV measure are also factors that could be impacting your conversion rates on your website.
Key Metrics That Impact Core Web Vital Scores
There are three key metrics that can impact your Core Web Vital scores:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): This measures the time it takes for the largest element on the page (usually an image or video) to load. A good LCP score is under 2.5 seconds.
- First Input Delay (FID): This measures the time it takes for the browser to respond to the user’s first interaction with the page, such as clicking a button or filling out a form. A good FID score is under 100 milliseconds.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): This measures how much the page layout shifts as it loads. A good CLS score is under 0.1.
Tools to Check Your Core Web Vital Scores
There are a TON of tools out there to help you check you WordPress websites Core Web Vitals, here’s some of the best:
- Google Search Console: Google Search Console provides a Core Web Vitals report that shows your scores for LCP, FID, and CLS. You can access the report by logging into your Google Search Console account and going to the “Experience/Core Web Vitals” section. For this section to work you’ll need a decent amount of traffic to your website, if it’s a new website you’ll want to use PageSpeed insights or Lighthouse.
- PageSpeed Insights: PageSpeed Insights is a free tool from Google that analyzes your website and provides suggestions for improving your Core Web Vital scores. It also provides scores for LCP, FID, and CLS.
- Lighthouse: Lighthouse is an open-source tool from Google that analyzes your website and provides a detailed report of your Core Web Vital scores. It also provides suggestions for improving your scores. Lighthouse is integrated in to Google Chrome.
- WebPageTest: WebPageTest is a free tool that analyzes your website and provides a detailed report of your Core Web Vital scores, as well as other performance metrics. It also provides suggestions for improving your scores.
- GTmetrix: GTmetrix is a free tool that analyzes your website and provides a detailed report of your Core Web Vital scores, as well as other performance metrics. It also provides suggestions for improving your scores.
Challenges Improving Core Web Vital Scores in WordPress
Improving Core Web Vital scores in WordPress can be challenging because many fixes can be extremely technical. essential plugins can cause issues, and even Google features you might use such as Google Adsense and Google Analytics can cause speed issues. Some of the main challenges are:
- Heavy use of plugins: WordPress is known for its vast plugin library, which can slow down the site and increase the page load time.
- Large images: WordPress sites often use high-resolution images, which can impact the LCP score.
- Complex themes: Some WordPress themes are very complex, with many design elements and features, which can increase the CLS score.
- Movement on page as it loads: If an image causes the layout of the page to move even slightly after it loads, it can impact your score.
Tactics and Strategies to Improve Core Web Vital Metrics
To improve Core Web Vital metrics in WordPress, here are some tactics and strategies that you can use:
- Optimize images: Use image compression tools or plugins to reduce the size of your images without sacrificing quality. This can help improve your LCP score.
- Minimize plugins: Use only the plugins that are necessary for your website, and remove any that are not being used. This can help improve the page load time and FID score.
- Use a fast hosting provider: Choose a hosting provider that has fast servers and provides good performance. This can help improve the page load time and FID score.
- Use a lightweight theme: Choose a theme that is lightweight and optimized for speed. This can help reduce the CLS score.
- Implement lazy loading: Use lazy loading for images and videos to delay the loading of non-critical resources until they are needed. This can help improve the LCP score.
- Leverage browser caching: Use browser caching to store frequently used resources on the user’s computer, so they don’t have to be reloaded every time the page is accessed. This can help improve the page load time and FID score.
- Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN): Use a CDN to distribute your website’s content across multiple servers around the world, so it can be accessed faster by users in different locations. This can help improve the page load time and LCP score.
There are other factors that may help you improve your CWV scores, use Googles tools to give you specific actions you can take to improve your scores!