Google Search Console sending INP Core Web Vitals issues notifications
In preparation for the new INP metrics, Google search has been sending out notifications to websites via Google Search Console (GSC) flagging any INP issues. This could scare a lot of website owners, but this is not as big as a concern as it seems! Before we can dig in to the new Core Web Vitals (CWV), we need to understand what they are:
What are Google’s Core Web Vitals?
The CWV are metrics put in place by Google that measure the factors they consider as the most important in a webpage (and overall website) user experience. These metrics are measured in three groups; poor, need improvement and good and is measured using actual user data. The CWV metrics have been introduced in recent years as Google has placed a greater importance on user experience as a ranking factor.
Why are Core Web Vitals important?
As mentioned above, overall user experience has become more and more important to Google and UX is factored in to overall rankings. CWV are the metrics used to measure UX. It is important to note that by improving you CWV scores alone will not boost you to the top rankings positions. Google has repeatedly expressed that there are roughly 200 ranking factors and having good user experience does not override having great, relevant content. The CWV metrics are made up of three sections:
Largest Contentful Pain (LCP):
The LCP metric measures how long it takes a page to load for a user perspective. Specifically, it is the time from clicking on a link the webpage to seeing the majority of content (main parts) loaded on the users screen. LCP is different from other page speed measurements as it focuses on a users experience on opening up a webpage and not specifically focused on the things loaded in the background that a user would not see. LCP focuses on being the user being able to see and interact with a webpage. For the metric scores, website owners want their LCP score to be between 0 to 2 seconds for a good score; 2 to 4 seconds will earn them a ‘needs improvement’ score; anything above 4 seconds is seen as a poor score.
First Input Delay (FID):
While LCP measures how long for content to appear for the user, FID measures the time it takes for the user to interact with the page. These interactions can include any input by the user such as choosing an option from a menu or opening an accordion drop down. Google has placed importance on FID as it takes into account how real life users interact with your website. For pages such as blogs and news articles there won’t be much interactions by the user so this metric becomes less important. For pages such as login pages, FID is a important metric as the main focus of the page is for user input.
Cumulative Layout Shit (CLS):
CLS focuses on how stable the page is as it loads. If the webpage has elements on the page that move around as the page loads, the webpage will have a high CLS score which is negative. Website owners should want their page elements to be fairly stable to not interfere with the user experience. The shifting of elements should be minimised, this includes images, videos and GIFs. Elements loading below the fold (below what the user can see on their screen) do not negatively impact CLS scores.
What is the new Interaction to Next Paint (INP) metric?
The new INP metric is a pending metric to join the CWV metrics in March 2024 and will replace First Input Delay (FID). This metric will assess the latency of all interactions a user has made on the webpage, reporting back a single value. A low INP score mean the webpage was consistently able to respond quickly to the majority, if not all, of the user interactions. The user interactions include all clicks, taps and keyboard interactions throughout the user session. The final INP value reported will be the longest interaction time observed. An INP score below 200 milliseconds means your page has good responsiveness; while a score above 500 milliseconds means your page has poor responsiveness. The key difference between INP and FID is that INP considers all page interactions, compared to only considering the first interaction. Overall, INP is a more developed metric of FID, and the steps taken to optimise the FID metric will be incorporated to optimising INP scores when released.
How to improve CWV scores:
Overall, currently there is no reason to be worried about the INP metric despite the warnings sent out by Google as the metric will not be in place till 2024. However, the issue message gives website owners ample time to optimise the INP metrics before it is the metric is released, as it will help improve user experience which is a ranking factor.
If you need help or just have queries around the new INP metric, Core Web Vitals, or SEO in general – please reach out to the Digital Carrera team!