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Webmasters are quite familiar with how every new Google update affects website rankings. Even the most carefully optimised websites suffer the ire of Google’s Core Updates, often bumping them from page one of the SERP. There might be nothing wrong with the site, but Google’s commitment to returning quality search results motivates the shift in policies with each new update.

Thankfully Google is now a lot more transparent about their search metrics, as was the case with the May 2020 update. And digital marketers are hoping the trend continues. Google defines its Web Vitals as the essential metrics determining website health and promises to deliver unified guidance crucial to offering a wholesome web experience.

But How Does Google Quantify User Experience?

1.  Largest Contentful Paint – According to Google, LCP determines how quickly the largest content element of a page load, and recommends a maximum of 2.5 seconds. The main content could be the text, images, video clips, or any other element vital for the search query. Google says anything over four seconds is a sign of poor optimisation.

LCP is crucial since the audience generally perceives the largest object on a page as the most valuable. It’s a visual confirmation of viable information being offered sooner rather than later. Browsers report only the visible portion of the page before viewers interact with the elements in some form, usually with a click, scroll, keystroke, or tap. Any portion of visual elements falling outside the viewport isn’t counted towards page size. This applies to borders, padding, margins, and custom CSS elements.

Webmasters need to focus on Google’s PageSpeed Insight tools now more than ever to cope with the latest update. The next step involves improving server load speeds and reducing load times. Deferring render-blocking CSS or Javascript elements can help the cause.

2.  First Input Delay – FID measures the time between discrete user input and the browser’s response to processing the action. Scrolling and zooming aren’t legitimate user inputs. Google considers anything fewer than 100 milliseconds good. Anything over 300 milliseconds is considered poor.

Since unresponsive pages cause a great deal of user frustration, FID was included in Google’s Core Web Vital. The company recommends trading Total Blocking Time (TBT) for consistent FID. Unburdening the main thread by keeping user requests low and transfer sizes minimal can also reduce the website’s response time.

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