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Core Web Vitals and SEO: 9 Tips to Improve Your WordPress Site’s SERP Rankings

Updated on August 22, 2023

14 Min Read
Core Web Vitals and SEO

Are you tired of slow loading times and poor user experience on your WordPress site? Whether boosting conversion rates or climbing search engine rankings, the user experience matters.

Ask yourself: How often have you left an ecommerce website because it took ages to load? We’ve all been there.

For a better user experience, you may have already installed some recommended WordPress speed and optimization plugins, but there’s more to it – the elusive Core Web Vitals.

But what are they? Why are they so crucial? And how can you improve them for your WordPress site?

If you’re struggling to see your website on the first page of Google, this blog will help you understand how Core Web Vitals and SEO might drive your website’s future.

Why Are Core Web Vitals Important?

Core Web Vitals and SEO matter because they gauge user interaction and tie directly to the website experience. Positive experience boosts visitor actions like subscribing, purchasing, or inquiring. Slow loading times can lead visitors to leave for competitors.

Google considers Core Web Vitals as an important ranking factor influencing search engine placement. The better the user experience, the higher your website will rank.

Google prioritizes quality results for users, underscoring their importance for user experience metrics. Here’s why Core Web Vitals ranking factor matters!

Study Highlights Impact on Metrics
Cloudways assisted WP Bullet in attaining perfect Google Core Web Vitals and over 90 scores on Google PageSpeed Insights. Improved client satisfaction.
Meeting Core Web Vitals thresholds reduced page abandonment by 24%. User engagement: Reduced bounce rate.
Netzwelt’s Core Web Vitals improvement yielded 18% higher ad revenues and 27% more page views. Business: Enhanced advertising and engagement.
Every 100ms LCP reduction boosted Farfetch’s conversion rate by 1.3%. Business: Increased web conversions.
redBus gained global domain ranking uplift by reducing CLS from 1.65 to 0. SEO: Improved domain rankings.
CLS reduction of 0.2 led Yahoo! JAPAN to 15% more page views, 13% longer sessions, and a 1.72% lower bounce rate. User engagement: Improved session metrics.

What’s the Minimum Core Web Vitals Passing Score?

Good Need Improvement Poor
LCP <=2.5s <=4s >4s
FID <=100ms <=300ms >300ms
CLS <=0.1 <=0.25 >0.25
INP (experimental) <=200ms <=500ms >500ms

💡 Note: Interaction to Next Paint (INP), an upcoming Core Web Vital metric, is set to replace First Input Delay (FID) starting from March 2024.

Enhance Your Website’s Performance Today

Discover the power of seamless user experiences with our free Google Page Experience Checker. Boost your rankings and engagement now!

Understanding How Core Web Vitals Affect SEO

The Page Experience Update emphasizes enhancing the user experience through various signals, including secure browsing, mobile-friendliness, HTTPS usage, no intrusive interstitials (Ad Experience) on mobile devices, and Core Web Vitals.

Google’s page experience algorithm update began its rollout, commencing in February 2022 and concluding within nine days on March 3, 2022. This update aimed to refine user experiences by integrating these metrics into its ranking factors.

Although the initial impact of the new SEO ranking factor was subtle, experts suggested that slow websites would remain sluggish while businesses emphasizing user experience would continue benefiting.

Over time, a trend emerged: Legacy businesses recognized the need to invest in performance optimization due to the obvious relationship between performance and revenue.

Faster pages simply translated into improved user experiences, higher conversions, and better rankings on Google.

Jumping ahead to 2023, Google is placing an even greater emphasis on Page Experience for SEO. Based on the latest updates from the April 2023 Google algorithm and search industry developments, the Page Experience report in Search Console is set to undergo changes.

In the near future, this report will evolve into a new page that connects to our comprehensive guidance on-page experience. Additionally, users can expect to access a dashboard view featuring the individual Core Web Vitals and HTTPS reports, which will continue to be available within the Search Console.

How to Get Your Site Ready for the Latest SEO Ranking Factor?

Google is changing how it ranks websites, and you need to evolve with it constantly. The Page Experience update is a big part of this change.

Starting from December 1, 2023, Google will make some changes to its tools. They are retiring the “Mobile Usability” report, the Mobile-Friendly Test, and the Mobile-Friendly Test API.

This doesn’t mean mobile usability isn’t important anymore. It’s just that there are now better ways to check how mobile-friendly your site is, like using Chrome’s Lighthouse tool.

In April 2023, Google changed how it looks at websites. Google cares about how easy it is for people to use your website. It should load fast, work well on phones, and easily move around.

Google suggests using tools like the Page Experience report in Google Search Console to see how your website is doing and how you can improve it.

Speaking of which, the Page Experience report is changing too. It will be different soon. Instead of showing specific details, it will give you general advice on making your website better for users. This is good because it will help you improve how people feel when they visit your site and how well it shows up in search results.

If you have a WordPress website, there are a few things you should do to get your website in check with the April update:

  • Choose a Good Theme: Pick a simple theme that helps with things like loading quickly and being mobile-friendly.
  • Optimize Images: Make sure your images are not too big and load fast.
  • Use Caching: Use a special tool to make your website load faster.
  • Fix JavaScript and CSS: These things can make your site slower. Fix them to improve how quickly your page loads.
  • Try a CDN: Content Delivery Networks like Cloudflare CDN can help your website load faster, especially for people who are far away from your server.
  • Focus on Main Content: Make sure the important stuff loads first. This is important for the Largest Contentful Paint score.
  • Be Careful with JavaScript: Too much JavaScript can make your site slow. Check if you’re using it wisely.

Remember, getting your website in check with the latest Google update is not just about Google. It’s about making your site better for the people who visit it. If you do that, Google will also notice and reward you with better rankings.

What are the Toughest Web Vitals Metrics to Improve for Better SEO?

Now, let’s delve into the nitty-gritty of performance details. Fixing Core Web Vitals is not easy, especially if you have a lot of content on your site. Among all the important CWV metrics, one is particularly formidable — TTFB (Time to First Byte).

TTFB measures the time it takes for a server to respond, and ensuring a fast and timely response can be quite challenging, especially depending on the website’s underlying framework.

This challenge becomes more pronounced with eCommerce websites. These platforms often have dynamic and frequently changing pages. This dynamic nature can make it challenging to implement effective caching strategies. Moreover, large product catalogs can further complicate matters, ultimately impacting the Time to First Byte.

Another challenging aspect is the Largest Contentful Paint (LCP). This metric focuses on loading performance by measuring how quickly the main content of a page appears. Achieving optimal LCP scores can be tough, and it’s an area that requires careful attention and optimization efforts.

For some, the Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) presents its own set of challenges. CLS evaluates the visual stability of a page by measuring unexpected layout shifts.

This can be particularly complex to address, especially for existing websites with many resources and dependencies. In such cases, addressing inefficient loading of assets, such as JavaScript files and fonts, and handling render-blocking assets becomes crucial to achieving favorable CLS scores.

Addressing these challenges effectively can play a vital role in boosting SEO performance and ensuring a smoother user experience.

What to Keep in Mind and Mistakes to Avoid When Optimizing Core Web Vitals for SEO?

Now, let’s explore the essential aspects to consider and the common mistakes to avoid when working on optimizing Core Web Vitals for improved SEO performance.

Prioritize Key Techniques:

When it comes to enhancing the Core Web Vitals, several techniques play a pivotal role. These include:

  • Lazyloading: Optimize your site by loading content as users scroll, reducing initial loading times.
  • Preloading: Anticipate user interactions and preload essential resources for quicker rendering.
  • Inline Critical CSS: Embed critical CSS directly into the HTML to expedite rendering.
  • Rendering First Visible Content: Prioritize loading the initially visible content to create a smoother user experience.

Mind the Fonts:

Fonts can significantly impact your site’s performance. Efficient font loading involves considering font families, styles, glyph sets, and loading methods. It’s essential to strike a balance between preloading and browser-specific formats. You might find our guide on how to use custom Google fonts in WordPress helpful here.

Overlooked Optimization:

Defer JavaScript optimization is a commonly overlooked technique. It can significantly improve the Google PageSpeed Insights (GPSI) score.

Tackle TTFB and Server-Side Scripts:

Addressing Time to First Byte (TTFB) is super important We can’t stress enough. Optimize server-side scripts like PHP or SQL, which can impact TTFB. Be selective in using page builders, themes, or plugins to improve all Core Web Vitals metrics.

Consistent Improvement:

Creating a lightweight, responsive, and fast site is an ongoing challenge. Regularly implementing best practices like page caching, GZIP or Brotli compression, and image optimization is crucial for maintaining optimal page loading times.

Avoid Common Mistakes:

When striving for SEO excellence, some pitfalls to steer clear of include:

  • Focusing Only on Homepage: Extend page speed enhancements beyond the homepage to ensure a comprehensive Page Experience across your entire site.
  • Image Size Optimization: Pay attention to image sizes; avoid uploading oversized images that can negatively impact loading times.
  • Prioritize SEO: Don’t treat SEO as an afterthought. Make it a priority during the web design process to avoid undermining rankings.
  • Handling Permalink Changes: Be cautious when altering permalink structures or moving/deleting assets. Implement appropriate redirects to avoid disruption.
  • UX Impact: HTTP status errors, broken links, and intrusive pop-ups can undermine UX, affecting both users and rankings.
  • Enhance User Experience: To create a positive user experience, avoid intrusive pop-ups and interstitials that disrupt browsing. Ensure site security by refraining from using nulled themes or plugins and addressing potential security issues.

What Tools to Select to Measure Speed and SEO Performance?

When it comes to evaluating the speed and SEO performance of your WordPress site, several reliable tools are widely recommended. Here are the essential tools to consider:

Google Page Speed Insights and Lighthouse

Google Page Speed Insights, Lighthouse, and Lighthouse’s Scoring Calculator are primary tools for assessing your site’s performance. These tools offer detailed feedback on Core Web Vitals and suggest improvements.

GTmetrix

GTmetrix, now integrating Lighthouse metrics, is another valuable option. It provides quick and easy analysis and a historical perspective on your site’s changes. It’s also recommended for addressing server response time issues.

Chrome’s ‘Network’ Tab

For detailed audits and opportunity spotting, Chrome’s ‘Network’ tab is a useful resource. It offers a comprehensive view of elements loaded by the browser, aiding in optimizing performance.

WebPageTest

WebPageTest is a powerful tool that offers insights into various performance aspects, including First Byte Time and CDN usage, along with web vitals scores.

Sucuri SiteCheck

This free tool helps you ensure the security of your website by scanning for malware and confirming safe browsing.

Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool

For assessing mobile compatibility, Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool is a user-friendly and efficient choice.

Pingdom

Pingdom is another valuable tool that helps you monitor the speed and performance of your website. It provides insights into your site’s loading times and identifies areas for improvement.

By utilizing the tools mentioned above, you can effectively measure your WordPress site’s speed and SEO performance.

Important Considerations When Optimizing Core Web Vitals for SEO

Optimizing your website for SEO can be complex, but keeping certain key considerations in mind can greatly enhance your efforts. Here are important insights from experts that can guide your approach:

Prioritize User Experience

The top priority when optimizing your website for any Google update is to ensure an exceptional user experience. Focus on delivering users a faster, safer, and more helpful experience, as this forms the foundation of successful optimization.

Understanding the Evolution

Google’s approach to updates has evolved over the years. Experts estimate that Google updates its algorithm around 500-600 times yearly. With factors like mobile-friendliness and page speed gaining prominence, it’s clear that Google places emphasis on mobile and page speed. Keeping up with these trends is crucial for staying aligned with Google’s direction.

Address All Factors

Google considers various factors when ranking websites. Neglecting any aspect can impact your site’s performance in search results. It’s important to be aware of these factors, assess your performance, and address any issues that arise.

Avoid Significant Changes

Making major changes to your site, such as rebranding, structural modifications, or large-scale content alterations, can disrupt your benchmark and affect your rankings. Be cautious about implementing significant changes without considering their impact.

How to Improve Core Web Vitals on WordPress?

Now that you have a good grasp of your website’s performance, let’s shift our focus to exploring ways you can actually boost your WordPress Core Web Vitals.

1. Install Core Web Vitals Plugin

The simplest approach you can adopt is utilizing a Core Web Vitals WordPress plugin such as Jetpack Boost. It’s completely free of cost!

With this plugin, you can execute intricate optimization tasks with just a few toggles. Here’s how:

  1. In your WordPress dashboard, navigate to the Plugins section and click Add New.
  2. Search for Jetpack Boost and click Install Now, followed by Activate.
  3. Once activated, head over to Jetpack and select Boost. Look for the green Get Started button.
  4. After this, Jetpack will evaluate the current performance score of your website.

jetpack boost

In addition to Jetpack Boost, other useful plugins are available for improving performance. Smush – Lazy Load Images, Optimize & Compress Images help in optimizing and compressing images, reducing the load time.

Autoptimize is another helpful plugin streamlining your website’s CSS, JavaScript, and HTML files to enhance loading speed. Incorporating these plugins alongside Jetpack Boost can further enhance your site’s performance.

2. Choose Reliable WordPress Hosting

Your hosting provider’s choice significantly influences your website’s performance. Opt for a reputable host with fast server response times, SSD storage, and server-level caching for impactful site loading speed.

Prioritize low server response times, ideally below 200ms. Look for SSD storage, which ensures faster data access and reliability. Consider server-level caching to reduce server load and enhance speed.

Furthermore, the geographical location of your hosting provider’s data centers in relation to your target audience can significantly minimize latency and enhance the overall user experience. For optimal performance, managed WordPress hosting services outshine shared hosting solutions, as they are tailored specifically to WordPress websites.

If you’re considering a hosting solution that ticks all these boxes and more, Cloudways deserves a closer look.

With Cloudways, you benefit from a pre-installed Breeze cache plugin alongside your WordPress installation and Varnish cache integration on the Cloudways platform. These features work in synergy to boost your Core Web Vitals scores.

For an impressive example, take a look at our fastest WordPress hosting blog to see how Cloudways can help you achieve an astonishing 79ms Load Time.

Experience Speed and Reliability With Cloudways WordPress Hosting

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3. Use a Lightweight Theme

A well-optimized theme is crucial for a fast-loading website.

Choose a minimal, performance-focused theme to avoid excessive features, bloated code, and excessive HTTP requests. Consider these tips for theme selection:

  1. Demo Site Analysis: Check the theme’s demo performance using tools like Google PageSpeed Insights or GTmetrix to gauge its potential performance on your site.
  2. Performance Features: Prioritize themes with optimized code, minimal JavaScript usage, and support for responsive design.
  3. Test Before Use: Evaluate the theme’s performance on a test site with your plugins and content to ensure it meets your requirements.

If you need help picking the best theme, check out our blog on 450+ Best WordPress Themes (Free and Premium) 2023.

4. Compress Your Images

Images often significantly affect a website’s loading time. To enhance image performance, adhere to these effective strategies: Opt for appropriate image formats like WebP, JPEG XR, or AVIF, known for better compression and quality.

Implement lazy loading to defer off-screen image loading, lowering initial page load times. Compress and resize images using tools like TinyPNG or Imagify. You can also use the best WordPress image optimization plugins.

Lastly, installing a CDN like Cloudflare CDN to serve images from nearby servers reduces latency for improved loading speed. If you’re a Cloudways user, you can use Cloudways’ partnership with Cloudflare and activate the Cloudflare Enterprise CDN add-on, which offers Enterprise-level CDN features.

5. Minify CSS and JavaScript Files

CSS and JavaScript files can significantly influence your website’s loading speed. To optimize these files, follow these effective steps:

Minify and Compress: Enhance your website’s loading speed by reducing the sizes of your CSS and JavaScript files through minification and compression techniques. This optimization approach accelerates your site’s performance.

Additionally, services like Cloudflare Polish and Cloudflare Mirage can aid in optimizing your site’s images and improving overall loading times.

Combine and Inline: Consider combining multiple CSS or JavaScript files into one to minimize the number of requests. Additionally, inline critical CSS and JavaScript directly into the HTML to reduce the need for separate requests.

Remove Render-Blocking Resources: Identify resources that block the rendering of your page, such as large CSS or JavaScript files that are loaded before the content. Remove or optimize these resources to improve the time it takes for your page to become visible.

6. Implement Server-Side Improvements

Server-side optimizations play a significant role in enhancing your site’s performance. To achieve this, adopt these effective practices for optimizing your server configuration:

Compression: Activate GZIP or Brotli compression on your server to decrease file sizes and expedite transfers. This can usually be done through your server’s configuration files.

Cloudflare applies Brotli compression to help speed up page load times for your visitors. We have a blog on Brotli vs GZIP compression. Perhaps you might find it helpful.

Cache Setup: Implement server-level caching and cache-control headers to alleviate server load. This can involve adjusting server configuration files or using plugins such as Breeze. We have a guide on installing and configuring the Breeze WordPress cache. You might find it helpful.

Reverse-Proxy: Consider a reverse-proxy setup like NGINX or Varnish. This configuration can optimize performance by caching content and distributing the workload across multiple servers, contributing to better scalability and responsiveness.

7. Minimize the Utilization of Add-Ons

When it comes to plugins, careful consideration is crucial. Each plugin adds extra load to your webpage, potentially affecting its overall performance. Retaining only the essential plugins that truly serve a purpose is recommended.

Furthermore, according to Google’s recommendation, it’s advised to aim for a server response time that is less than 600 milliseconds. This indicates the swiftness with which your server responds to requests, contributing to a smoother user experience.

8. Optimize WordPress Database

Optimizing your WordPress database improves performance by removing unnecessary data and reducing database size. Follow these steps for effective database optimization:

Clean Unnecessary Data: Remove revisions, spam comments, and transients using tools like phpMyAdmin.

Automate Maintenance: To maintain efficiency, use the best WordPress backup plugins like UpdraftPlus for automated database cleanup.

Regular Backups: Ensure data safety by backing up your database regularly. Cloudways offers automated backups. You can set an automated backup frequency ranging from one hour to every seven days.

You can also use SnapShooter as a secure, easy-to-use, and affordable offsite backup solution. SnapShooter, in collaboration with DigitalOcean, extends an exclusive 20% discount to Cloudways customers for the first 3 months on all plans with monthly payments.

9. Set up WordPress Cron Jobs

WordPress cron jobs are background tasks that manage actions like plugin updates, scheduled post-publication, and email notifications. Optimizing these jobs enhances your site’s performance.

To do so:

Disable Default Cron: Cut inefficiency by deactivating the default WordPress cron system. Add define(‘DISABLE_WP_CRON’, true); to your wp-config.php file. Also, plan resource-heavy tasks during low-traffic periods, like overnight or weekends, to mitigate performance impact.

If you need more clarity, check out our guide on how to set up WordPress Cron Jobs for your websites.

To explore topics such as identifying LCP elements, uncovering FID and TBT insights, and understanding CLS elements using Pagespeed Insights, refer to our comprehensive guide on improving Core Web Vitals performance.

Summary

So there you have it. Hopefully, you can now optimize your site for the Google Page Experience Update.

Enhancing your Core Web Vitals scores can indeed pose challenges, requiring the application of various web performance techniques—some more intricate and time-intensive than others.

However, achieving a good score is perfectly doable.

Through this article, you’ve gained insights from 9 valuable tips that pave the way to success.

The time has come for you to put this knowledge of Core Web Vitals and SEO into action. If you get stuck along the way, please feel free to reach out in the comments.

Q1. What are the most important core web vitals metrics?

A. The most important Core Web Vitals metrics are Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID), and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS), as they assess the loading speed, interactivity, and visual stability of a webpage, respectively.

Q2. Why are core web vitals important?

A. Core Web Vitals are important as they measure key aspects of user experience, impacting site rankings and user engagement. These metrics assess loading speed, interactivity, and visual stability, contributing to a seamless and satisfactory browsing experience.

Q3. What are the three aspects of a website’s user experience measured by core web vitals?

A. Core Web Vitals measure the loading speed, interactivity, and visual stability of a website’s user experience.

Q4. Do Core Web Vitals impact SEO on WordPress?

A. Yes, Core Web Vitals significantly impact SEO on WordPress by influencing search rankings and user satisfaction.

Q5. Do Core Web Vitals impact user experience on WordPress?

A. Core Web Vitals directly impact user experience on WordPress by ensuring faster load times and smoother interactions.

Q6. How can I easily optimize my Core Web Vitals right now?

A. To optimize Core Web Vitals swiftly, consider minimizing image sizes, utilizing caching plugins, optimizing code, and employing a content delivery network (CDN).

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Abdul Rehman

Abdul is a tech-savvy, coffee-fueled, and creatively driven marketer who loves keeping up with the latest software updates and tech gadgets. He's also a skilled technical writer who can explain complex concepts simply for a broad audience. Abdul enjoys sharing his knowledge of the Cloud industry through user manuals, documentation, and blog posts.

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