Today’s online consumers demand fast, easy and fulfilling web experiences. Statistics show that 42% of users would leave a website because of poor functionality (Top Design Firms).
Poor website user experience (UX) will cost you traffic and sales and affect your search engine optimization (SEO). Users care about a site’s loading speed and responsiveness, which Google Core Web Vitals aim to measure.
In June 2021, Google introduced a new set of metrics called Core Web Vitals as part of its Page Experience Update. These included several page experience signals, namely:
• Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – Estimates the loading time of a web page’s main content. Google considers the above the fold content (the header, text, imagery, or video displayed before visitors have to scroll) as a web page’s main content.
• First Input Delay (FID) – Approximates input delay or the time it takes for a browser to process and respond to a visitor’s first interaction with a web page. Google FID measures the input delay for discrete actions such as taps, clicks and key presses.
• Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) – Measures visual stability and how much a web page shifts from its original position to a different visual location. An unexpected layout shift occurs due to several factors, including slow-loading fonts, third-party ads or widgets and dynamically injected content.
The Google Page Experience Update also included existing Google ranking signals, such as mobile responsiveness, page load time, HTTPS and lack of intrusive ads.
Introducing Two New Google Core Web Vital Metrics
Google is known for constantly improving its algorithm. In fact, it has already added two new metrics as part of its Core Web Vitals update: INP (Interaction to Next Paint) and TTFB (Time to First Byte).
1. Interaction to Next Paint
Chrome usage data states that 90% of the user’s time on a page is spent after it fully loads. INP is an experimental field metric used to check website responsiveness and assess its UX. It specifically measures how fast a web page responds to user inputs in milliseconds.
INP is a Core Web Vital metric that observes the latency of every mouse click, touchscreen tap or keyboard stroke a user has made throughout the page lifecycle. It represents a page’s overall interaction latency by choosing one of the longest interactions during a user’s entire visit.
Actions like hovering and scrolling are not considered interactions and do not contribute to INP scores. But scrolling with the keyboard may be considered when determining INP.
The purpose of tracking INP is to determine and shorten the time from when a user initiates an action until the page responds. A low INP indicates that most, if not all, user interactions were responded to promptly by the page, resulting in a positive website user experience.
Visual Feedback and INP
Visual feedback is displayed when a page responds to an interaction. It can show whether input on a form field is valid, if a modal window has opened, or if an item you removed from your shopping cart has indeed been removed. Visual feedback informs the user whether the page has addressed their request or interaction.
For complex interactions that take more time, it’s critical to display initial visual feedback to signal the user that the page is responding to their actions.
What Is an Ideal INP Score?
According to Google:
• Good Responsiveness = Below 200 milliseconds
• Needs Improvement = 200 to 500 milliseconds
• Poor Responsiveness = above 500 milliseconds
An unresponsive page is one of the most frustrating experiences for a site visitor. Website owners should perform a Core Web Vitals test and aim to have the lowest possible INP value so users don’t have to wait too long to interact with the page. A longer INP can encourage users to leave your site and move to a competitor.
How Does INP Differ From FID?
Unlike INP, which considers all page interactions, First Input Delay (FID) only measures the first interaction’s input delay. FID also does not consider the delay in presenting the next frame.
INP looks beyond first impressions. It tracks every interaction, making it a more reliable indicator of comprehensive page responsiveness than FID.
How To Optimize INP
• Minimize third-party fonts and use system fonts instead
• Remove unused code
• Simplify page styles and layouts
• Make your page easy to render by optimizing image sizes
• Conduct Core Web Vitals test
• Leverage responsive website design services for a more holistic approach
2. Time to First Byte
This Core Web Vital metric measures a web server’s responsiveness in milliseconds. More specifically, it refers to the time it takes for a browser to receive the first byte of response after making a request to the server. The longer it takes to receive that first data from a server, the longer it takes to load a page which, in turn, affects your Google ranking position.
Page load speed has an enormous impact on customer retention. According to Google, the probability of a visitor leaving a page increases by about 32% for every extra second it takes a page to load. TTFB is crucial to optimizing site performance because it allows you to identify and resolve weak points in the server connection process. Developing fast and engaging online experiences reduces the likelihood of losing a customer.
While there’s not much you can do to fix network issues or high web traffic, knowing where delays can occur lets you address more controllable elements such as dynamic content, server configuration and DNS response times.
Ultimately, knowing what causes a website to load slowly or be unresponsive is key to elevating user experience, which impacts your Google ranking position.
What Is Considered a Good TTFB Score?
Google PageSpeed Insights recommends under 200 milliseconds as a good TTFB speed, but it varies depending on the type of content on your page:
• Less than 100 milliseconds if you’re serving static content
• Between 200 and 500 milliseconds for dynamic content
How To Improve Time to First Byte
• Apply better coding practices
• Reduce HTTP requests by removing unnecessary images and reducing the file size of the remaining images
• Implement Content Delivery Network (CDN) to let visitors download data using the closest network node, reducing page loading time.
• Choose a dedicated Managed Service Provider (MSP) and a fast host server offering quick support and superior security.
Partner With a Technical SEO Agency To Optimize Your Website
As the digital landscape evolves, so should your SEO efforts. The Core Web Vitals update and Google Page Experience update proves that website user experience is now a crucial ranking factor for Google. INP and TTFB are metrics used to measure a user’s impression of a site’s responsiveness.
Websites with technical issues such as slow page load time, poor mobile experience and improper redirects can be penalized by Google. Without timely intervention, these issues can drastically lower your Google ranking position and organic traffic.
You can get a comprehensive view of your web performance by tracking TTFB and INP alongside other Google Core Web Vitals. Being able to pinpoint delays and issues enables faster troubleshooting and provides you with actionable insights that help improve user experience.
Every second of delay in your page load time increases bounce rate probability, making you lose valuable leads. Track Google ranking signals and boost website performance with Thrive Internet Marketing Agency’s technical SEO services.
Optimizing for the Google Page Experience Update and Google Core Web Vitals requires continuous research, monitoring and re-evaluation. Our technical SEO agency can help you check website responsiveness and improve user experience through a thorough Core Web Vitals test.
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Keep up with users’ needs and algorithm updates. Get in touch with our SEO and web design agency to start your optimization process for the Core Web Vitals update.