Google’s Core Vitals Are Changing
Get Ahead of the Curve to Secure Your Rankings
In the ever-evolving online landscape, one factor has become increasingly critical in influencing search rankings: user experience. To evaluate user experience, Google relies on its Core Web Vitals, a set of metrics that gauge real-life user experience by evaluating page speed, interactivity, and the visual stability of web pages. However, Google’s Core Vital’s are changing.
One such metric, First Input Delay (FID), has long been the standard for determining page load responsiveness. However, a seismic shift is on the horizon as Google announced it’s preparing to replace FID with Interaction to Next Paint (INP) in March 2024.
Understanding the Shift from FID to INP
FID measures how fast a website responds when a user clicks a button or interacts with other elements on the page. This metric specifically focuses on the initial interaction and assesses the speed at which the site reacts to the user’s input.
INP is similar, but it doesn’t just measure response time after a button is clicked. Instead, it looks at the overall responsiveness and interactivity— how long it takes the website to react after a user clicks, fulfill the user’s request, and display the updated result. Unlike FID, which concentrates on the initial interaction, INP encompasses all interactions throughout a user’s journey on a webpage and identifies the interaction with the longest delay.
Moving from FID to INP will give Google a more comprehensive view of how interactive and responsive a website is. Essentially, the smoother and faster a website works, the better the user experience—and the more worthy it is of being ranked higher in search results.
Implications for Search Rankings
This upcoming change underscores Google’s commitment to prioritizing a seamless user experience—and given the early announcement, it’s likely to have a significant impact on search rankings. It’s essential to take proactive steps before the update rolls out in March to stay ahead of the curve.
Websites that have already been optimized for INP are unlikely to encounter any changes to rankings. However, websites that have prioritized FID optimization will need to pivot towards INP, which demands a broader focus on responsiveness throughout the entire user session.
Recommendations for Preparing for the INP Era
Here are some crucial steps to take to prepare your website for the shift from FID to INP:
- Upgrade Server Environments: Evaluate and upgrade your server environment if needed, especially if you’re using hosting services with minimal resources, like GoDaddy. A robust server infrastructure is essential to handle the increased demands of INP.
- Evaluate Interactivity: Assess and improve interactivity beyond the initial page load. This includes optimizing transitions between pages and addressing issues like slow-loading images.
- Real User Measurements (RUM): Enable Real User Measurements monitoring to collect field data on INP. This data is invaluable for understanding user interactions and identifying optimization opportunities.
- Analyze INP Data: Do a deep dive into INP data to pinpoint areas that require optimization. Focus on reducing input delay, streamlining processing time, and minimizing presentation delays. To provide a good user experience and meet Google’s Core Web Vitals criteria, your INP needs to be below 200 milliseconds.
For some websites, this may require updating an older more code-heavy theme to improve load times.
Embracing the shift of Google’s Core Vitals
Transitioning from FID to INP is a strategic necessity for sustaining or boosting search rankings. As a precautionary measure, you should take a comprehensive approach to optimization by addressing not only technical aspects but also user-centric elements. Identifying what slows down your website’s responsiveness is key. Conduct tests, observe user interactions, and seek guidance from a web developer if needed.
So, by embracing the shift to INP and proactively optimizing your website, you can ensure a positive user experience that aligns with the latest major update in Google’s evolving search ranking criteria.