Core Web Vitals are a set of factors that Google have decided are important to the overall ‘user experience’ of a webpage.
And the clue is in the name for just how important Google considers these to be – i.e. ‘Vital’. Google has stated these are specific search ranking factors. So if you want traffic from Google this does matter.
So without getting all technical let’s cover what this really means for website owners.
So What Are the Core Web Vitals
They are made up of 3 different things related to the speed, responsiveness and visual stability of your website. So if you’re seeing red or orange graphs in Google Search Console then you know your site has problems.
These 3 things in particular have been chosen as they cause the most annoyance to web users:-
- CLS (‘Cumulative Layout Shift’) – this is a measure of how much things move around on the screen while a page is loading. It annoys users because it’s hard on the eyes and can make things they were about to click on suddenly move down the page.
- LCP (‘Largest Contentful Paint’) – this is how long it takes for the largest thing on the screen to load up, which could be the main body of an article or a large image for example. Faster is obviously better here.
- FID (‘First Input Delay’) – this is related to how quickly your website responds when a user wants to do something. If they click on something and there is an annoying lag before anything happens, that’s not a great experience for them.
The Core Web Vitals are actually a subset of your overall Google Page Experience score, which includes other things like being mobile friendly and using https.
But these 3 vital factors now have their own dedicated page in your Google Search Console (what is Google Search Console), under ‘Enhancements’/’Core web vitals’. This will show a couple of graphs that look like this:-
You’ll see one graph for Mobile and one for Desktop. Depending on your websites design the results may be very similar or dramatically different between the two.
What Does the Core Web Vitals Graph Mean
It’s fairly straightforward as it’s an overview of all 3 factors. If you see a red line like the example above then you have problems that need fixing. If it’s all orange then things are not too bad, but there is some work to do. If it’s green then it’s good, you pass. (Jump to how to fix core web vitals).
Your graph may show all one colour or it may show a mixture – it is possible to have some pages that pass and others that don’t.
The number on the left hand scale of the graph is the number of URLs (or pages).
Why does my graph show ‘Not enough data for this device type’?
The data for these reports doesn’t come from Google crawling your website. Instead this data is created from real website visitors who use the Chrome web browser (by far the most popular web browser on desktop and mobile devices – now you know why Google created it’s own web browser).
So they have to gather enough data to make the reports accurate. If your site has a low level of traffic then there simply may not be enough data yet.
Why does my graph show less URLs than are on my site?
The data is generated from real user visits. If certain pages are visited more than others (as is often the case), there may be enough data for some but not for the lower traffic pages.
Viewing the Core Web Vitals Breakdown
The overview graph is all most website owners need to know – it tells you if there is a problem. Generally you will need a web developer to actually fix the problems.
But if you’re curious and want to know more about specifically what Google doesn’t like, then click on the blue ‘Open Report’ link at the top right of each graph.
This will break the graph down into the 3 core web vitals themselves (only the ones that apply will be shown):-
Here you can see this site mainly has a problem with CLS or layout shift. It also shows there was previously a problem with LCP (the largest paint time) but that appears to be resolved.
You can also drill down again from this report by clicking on each row. This will then give example pages from your site grouped together by similar page types. This is helpful for developers as it assists them to track down the various causes of the problems.
How To Fix Core Web Vitals Issues
Unfortunately this is a very technical area. So there are only limited things you can try without a web developer to diagnose and properly understand the causes.
Firstly, and this applies more broadly anyway, but using good quality web hosting can help to resolve some of the problems. Or to put it another way, cheap and slow web hosting will make all of your website problems much worse!
Fast web hosting isn’t going to fix all core web vitals issues though. It won’t make any difference to layout shifts (CLS), and may or may not help largest paint (LCP) and input delays (FID) depending on their extent and the actual cause.
Updating your CMS (e.g. WordPress) and associated plugins/themes can also help, as developers are starting to resolve these problems where their code is the cause of them. Although this is very hit and miss as web vitals are still not widely understood.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that once you click the ‘Validate Fix’ button in Google Search Console that it can take up to 28 days for Google to report that the problem is fully fixed. That’s a long time to wait ‘hoping’ that it worked. Developers however use other tools to test that pages have been fixed without having to wait for Google.
If you need help to fix Core Web Vitals or any other issues with your website, you can get in touch here.