August 21, 2020 Why Web Professionals Should Focus on Core Web Vitals

Kazuhito Kidachi
Corporate Director (CTO)

Today we held an online seminar for our clients titled "Core Web Vitals and Display Performance" (in Japanese); the seminar formed part of our Pinpoint Series in which content is designed to focus on selected web-related topics. Despite being the busy period in the wake of Obon holidays, we would like to express our sincere gratitude to everyone who participated. Thank you very much.

In this Column, I will provide an overview of the content covered for those who couldn’t attend the seminar. This summary includes information on what Core Web Vitals are, why we should pay attention to them, and our efforts as a company toward them.

About Core Web Vitals

The Core Web Vitals, as proposed by Google, are a set of metrics that measure web page user experience. (UX). More specifically, the following 3 metrics:

Largest Contentful Paint(LCP)
The time taken to render the largest image or text block displayed in the viewport
First Input Delay(FID)
The period of time between the user’s first interaction with the page and when the browser actually begins to respond
Cumulative Layout Shift(CLS)
The visual stability of the page and whether layouts change unexpectedly while loading

While these vitals don`t cover every aspect of UX, Google has stated that they will be reviewed annually. To specifically measure Core Web Vitals, the following tools are available:

Please note that depending on the tool used, either lab data (that is data in a controlled environment), or field data (that is the data actually experienced by the user), or both is provided.

Reasons to Focus on Core Web Vitals

To determine future search rankings, Google plans to add Core Web Vitals to existing search signals for page experience - such as whether the site is mobile-friendly and the use of an HTTPS connection.

However, regarding the above-mentioned plans, due to the impact of the novel coronavirus, Google have stated that implementation will commence from next year at the earliest and that they will provide notification of any roll-out at least six-months in advance (reference: Google's Official Webmaster Central Blog: Evaluating Page Experience).

So, while Core Web Vitals will play an important role for SEO in the future, their importance isn’t limited to search alone. In the "Chromium Blog: Highlighting great user experiences on the mobile web", Google announced that Chrome for Android will add a function to indicate whether linked pages will display at high speed. Signals from the Core Web Vitals will form the basis for determining which links are to be labelled as fast.

While display performance has been important both in terms of UX and SEO for some time, based on the above, we consider display performance to be an issue directly related to conversion, therefore, through website operation, we believe that continuous improvement cycles should be implemented.

Incidentally, just because a webpage provides a superior experience doesn't mean that it will automatically rank higher in search results. Of course, it goes without saying, page rank is based on appropriately answering user queries and providing quality information that meets user needs. However, if there are multiple pages with similar content, the fact that page experiences are likely to affect search rankings cannot be ignored.

Our Initiatives at MLC

As a company, we have gradually raised the "expected quality" of web development and associated content production - such as ensuring compliance with web standards and accessibility guidelines, as well as implementing multi-screen design. Last year we increased our focus on display performance, and then in April this year we mandated the use of Lighthouse to enhance the quality of deliverables.

Lighthouse, from version 6 onward, incorporates evaluation and scoring that is based on the Core Web Vitals, and in that respect, we can say that we’ve already implemented quality controls based on the said vitals. We look forward to providing consultation regarding our services as well as answering inquiries from companies that want to improve both their Core Web Vitals and display performance.

Furthermore, in line with the above-mentioned measures, we also provide related services as the Core Web Vitals only evaluate a limited part of display performance. So, with a focus on continuous and multi-metric measurement, we offer a Display Performance Improvement service (in Japanese) that provides a more detailed understanding of website display performance and related improvement solutions. Alternatively, we offer a Performance & Security Solutions by Cloudflare service (in Japanese) for clients seeking a solution that includes both CDN technology and security. If you have any questions about these or any of our other services, please do not hesitate to be in touch.

For more information on our services, timeframes and estimates, as well as examples of our work, please feel free to be in touch.