The Essentials of Google’s Web – What Marketers Need To Know
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If you’re into marketing or SEO, you’ve no doubt heard of Google’s “new” set of search ranking metrics called Core Web Vitals. However, CWVs aren’t new – they indicate the latest trend in performance marketing: a user-centric view that considers how site speed and user experience affect your online metrics.
In this article, we’ll dig deeper into Google’s CWVs, discuss how performance marketing drives B2B online experiences, and analyze the opportunities to accelerate your online presence and increase your marketing effectiveness.
What Are the Essentials of the Google Web?
Google’s Web Vitals program breaks down what constitutes a great user experience. The new benchmarks describe three common metrics that summarize your website’s performance for customers.
The Core Web Vitals effort is the latest in a series of performance-based recommendations Google has led through its Chrome browser and search engine.
The relationship between a site’s load time and conversion rate is well known. A famous example is a 2008 Amazon study which found that every tenth of a second of additional load time resulted in a 1% decrease in revenue. Since then, engineers have developed metrics to help customers measure website load time and determine what is slowing it down.
“How fast is my website? Is a complicated question. Mobile devices load pages differently from desktop computers. Does “seeing” the page mean “loading” the page completely?
At the end of 2019, engineers were focusing on 27 performance metrics, ranging from server response time to loaded DOM content (a fully loaded page) and everything in between.
To simplify the landscape, Google created the Core Web Vitals, made up of three “basic” metrics:
- The greatest content painting
- First entry delay
- Cumulative change in disposition
These three metrics will be vital for marketing teams. Google only uses actual user metrics (data collected in the field from actual site visitors) to determine your site’s speed. Actual user metrics ensure an accurate picture of how your website is loading across many devices, rather than synthetic or lab data, which is more useful for auditing purposes.
As they say in the land of web performance: if you don’t look at real user metrics, you are, by definition, looking at fake user metrics.
Largest content painting (can I see it?)
A user’s journey begins with a page that goes from blank to non-blank. When the website is empty, customers don’t know if the site is actually working. Those first few milliseconds (and sometimes seconds) can lead to page abandonment, a costly mistake, as online advertising is often based on cost per click, not cost per view.
To help define this early performance event, the Paint API lets you measure the largest content paint, which indicates when the main image, often the hero image, is rendered. Because the browser can recognize the larger image, the LCP metric is reliably collected in the field data.
Improving LCP times depends on improving your server response times and removing “blocking” resources from the page. Focus on delivering less data through image optimization (i.e. smaller, more efficient images).
The biggest win for B2B marketers? You can use your tag manager to delay as many tags as possible. Suppose there are multiple retargeting trackers enabled for the site (LinkedIn, AdWords, etc.). This code is essential for advertising, but it is not necessary to run it before the page loads. Simply delay firing tags after content loads. In Google Tag Manager, it is noted as the “Window Loaded” event compared to the traditional “Page View” event.
This small change can cut precious seconds from page load. Why try to follow a customer who is frustrated and leaves? When Vodafone (Italy) implemented optimizations for Largest Contentful Paint, sales increased by 8%.
First entry delay (Can I use it?)
After the page loads, the customer will ideally interact with the page. But modern pages often have plenty of “event watchers” ready to shoot.
For example, if the user scrolls down, there may be a tracker that sends data signaling the scroll depth. Perhaps there is another tracker that records the heat map of the page for further analysis of customer interactions.
The same event triggers these trackers, and each has a code that wakes up and runs. As a result, scrolling may be delayed because the browser is too busy launching trackers to respond to customer input.
Enter: first entry delay. It measures how long the page takes to respond to user input. How long does the page take to finish responding to users when they click a button?
When evaluating tools with in-depth analytics, ask if sampling is a core feature. Why decrease your conversion rate just to see how customers are interacting with your site?
Cumulative layout change (is that nice?)
The cumulative change in layout is a major source of frustration for clients. Have you ever read an article online and suddenly the text changes? It goes down or an ad appears, interrupting your process. In the worst case, you click on a link or button, and the layout changes simultaneously and you accidentally click something else?
This is a layout change, and the CLS metric shows how much this happens when rendering your page. Unlike other Core Web Vitals, which are measured over time, CLS is a percentage of the page content. So a CLS score of 0.25 would mean 25% of the page content moved while the page was loading, which would probably drive even the most loyal customer crazy.
If your site has a high CLS score (over 0.1), dynamic content (an ad, for example) was probably injected with undefined dimensions. To combat page lag, dedicate a specific section of the site – with explicit dimensions – to dynamic content.
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So, to recap, the main Google Web Vitals:
- Largest content painting (can I see it?)
- First entry delay (can I use it?)
- Cumulative layout change (is that nice?)
Performance marketing boosts B2B online experiences, so you might lose users (whom you attracted with ads) if your site is slow.
Speed up your online presence and increase your marketing effectiveness by using Core Web Vitals to evaluate your site.
More resources on Google’s main Web Vitals
The Ultimate Website Checklist For Better UX And Search Rankings: A MarketingProfs Guide
Updating Google’s Page Experience: What Every B2B Marketer Should Know
Four Ways SEO Marketing Changed in 2020 and Where It’s Going in 2021