Introduction

Core Web Vitals is part of Google’s ongoing effort to improve the web performance of pages. Why? Slow websites and web applications force customers to switch to other sites because Google’s business is primarily web-based.

When it comes to your Google search results ranking, a lot of it comes down to your page’s use of relevant keywords, how many other websites link to your page, and the quality of those links. In August 2021, Google began to evaluate pages according to their performance and that is the main reason behind optimizing your WordPress website.

What are the WordPress Core Web Vitals?

What are the WordPress Core Web Vitals

In June of 2021, Google made an announcement about a change in user experience in order to improve it. The Core Web Vitals were one of the indicators of page experience that Google looked at and analyzed. The time it takes for your website to load, how responsive it is to users, and how stable its appearance are some of the key web metrics that are assessed and evaluated. When it comes to Google’s search engine results page (SERP), a higher score means better positioning.

The website owner should monitor and improve these core web vitals as necessary. These core web vitals reflect the three different aspects of the user experience.

In an effort to give the best possible results to its users, Google has researched a wide range of factors that can be used to evaluate the customer experience on a web page. It’s a process that never ends.

Page experience is primarily influenced by the following factors. Due to this, it aligned its core web vitals with them.

  • Loading performance – How fast content appears on the screen – LCP
  • Responsiveness – How fast a page responds to user input – FID
  • Visual stability – Whether the content on a page moves around on the screen while loading – CLS

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)

This metric measures how long it takes for the most important thing to show up on the screen. This may be a picture or a text block. A high score gives users the impression that the site loads quickly. A slow website might frustrate users.

First Input Delay (FID)

This metric measures how long it takes for a website to respond to the first thing a user types into it. This could be a button click, for example. When a website gets a high score, it means that it responds quickly to what users do on it, which means that it is responsive. Again, slowness results in frustration.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

This rating measures how stable the site’s appearance is. What’s more, does the content move about on the screen as it loads, and how often? Slow-loading advertisements can be quite frustrating when you’re attempting to click on a button.

After you have gained an understanding of how the scores for your core web vitals are determined, what those scores mean for your website, and how to improve them, you will notice a rise in both the rating of your site and the number of user interactions.

Why Are Core Web Vitals Important?

Why Are Core Web Vitals Important

As the owner of a website, the success of your online business depends on how well you can manage the user experience. People are more likely to abandon their shopping carts and abandon a website with poor UX, such as slow page load times or confusing navigation.

Core Web Vitals are important because they let you track how well your WordPress site is doing.  They give you measurable data that you can use to evaluate your website’s user experience (UX) and then make any changes that are needed.

In addition, as each of the Core Web Vitals is a ranking indicator, they play a significant part in your SEO. Checking how your website performs on the Core Web Vitals not only improves its UX but also helps it rank higher in search results that are relevant to your business.

In the end, Core Web Vital does more than just improve your organic rankings, though this is a part of it.  It offers your viewers an exceptional experience. And this leads to more consumer engagement, a higher rate of conversion, and maybe even more good things.

It is also crucial to highlight that, despite the importance of Core Web Vitals, Google continues to rank pages with the best content overall, even if the page experience is a little bit poor.

How to Test Your Core Web Vitals Score on WordPress?

how to test your core web vitals score on wordpress

The core web vitals can be measured, tested, and reported using a wide variety of tools that are available to you. Among them are Google PageSpeed Insights, Google Search Console, and the Web Vitals extension. Taking a look at the features of each option, as well as when and how they should be used, we will also note down a few of their advantages.

Google PageSpeed Insights

PageSpeed Insights is a popular tool for checking the performance and speed of your web pages:

pagespeed Insight

It is very easy to use, all you have to do is enter your URL in the input field and click on the Analyze button. You will see a difference. The most effective way to diagnose performance problems is to find out what your real users are experiencing.

pagespeed Insight

One of the things we like best about PageSpeed Insights is that it provides you with diagnostics as well as opportunities for how you can improve your site for better speed and performance:

pagespeed insight

The other advantage of this tool is that the data it uses is derived from actual browser data. When you use PageSpeed Insights, you can quickly figure out where your website stands in terms of the things that are thought to be the most important. After that, it walks you through some easy steps that you can take to solve any problems with your website that could be a factor in the poor scores.

Google Search Console

Adding Google Search Console as the next tool to your arsenal will help you measure the health of your website by testing and measuring:

Improve performance on google

You may obtain the recently-added Core Web Vitals report from Google here. If you have verified ownership of your website and use Google Search Console, you will be able to locate and access this report, which is based on actual users, in the Enhancements section:

Google Search Console

This report can help you find and learn about possible problems on the pages of your website that hurt your web vitals and UX as a whole. You can also use it to find groups of pages on your website that have the same problems.

PageSpeed Insights and Google Search Console are populated with Chrome User Experience (CrUX) Report data. However, a benefit of using Google Search Console is that it allows you to examine the LCP data throughout your entire website, as opposed to randomly checking particular pages.

The Web Vitals Extension

If you use Google Chrome, you can also download the following extension that will allow you to access your Web Vitals information:

the web vitals extension

The Web Vitals Chrome addon is free to use and makes it simple to diagnose FID or CLS-related issues. You can use it on your own website and while browsing the web.

This small browser plugin uses the web-vitals library to measure each statistic and show the results. It gives a quick and easy method for comparing the performance of your website to that of your competitors.

Once the extension is installed, a square will be added to the top right-hand corner of your Chrome browser. Note that the color of the square will change depending on the Web Vitals’ performance. For example, if everything is within an acceptable range, the square will be green. If one or more of the metrics indicates a poor UX, it will be red (as will the metric that needs your attention). If the extension is unable to access and test the site you’re on, the square will be gray instead.

This is a simple extension that provides basic and straightforward information. Although there isn’t much information available beyond the metrics, it is a hassle-free way of obtaining this data on the fly.

Chrome DevTools

For a more detailed look at these metrics, you can use Chrome DevTools (and, more specifically, Lighthouse) to measure your Core Web Vitals in a lab environment:

chrome devtools

However, this method should primarily be used for measuring LCP and CLS. Considering that this tool loads your pages in a simulated environment with no real user input, it cannot provide measurements for FID. Instead, it uses a similar metric called Total Blocking Time (TBT).

Tips to Improve Your WordPress Site Core Web Vitals

tips to improve your wordpress site core web vitals

When getting your WordPress site ready for Core Web Vitals, you need to pay attention to a range of elements that pertain to the page experience.

Using an open-source web performance caching plugin is one of the quickest and easiest ways to get your WordPress site ready for the page experience upgrade. This is one of the most effective ways to get the job done. With the help of these plugins, which can enable caching and server-level compression, you can improve your website’s code and make it run better. All of these things have the potential to raise a website’s LCP, FID, and CLS scores.

Let’s have a look at the variety of methods by which you can improve the functionality of the WordPress website.

How to Improve the Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) on WordPress

largest contentful paint

Optimize Images

In WordPress, one of the most common reasons for low LCP ratings is the use of large picture file sizes. High-resolution images are beautiful, but they take up a lot of space.  heavy images can quickly become a burden when we talk about website performance and the PageSpeed score.

Optimizing your images is the best answer to this problem. This can be done either before or after the files are uploaded to WordPress.

Compression is necessary for image optimization. Depending on the compression method you use, the process may have a small effect on the quality of the image, but it can greatly reduce the size of the file and the time it takes to load.

Defer offscreen images

Reduce their dimensions to the shortest possible size. So, images are asked for early in larger blocks of content, where a preload could be helpful.

Imagify is an innovative WordPress plugin that automatically optimizes photos to the level of compression chosen without sacrificing quality.

WebP images allow you to create smaller, richer images that are approximately 25 percent smaller than PNGs and up to 35 percent smaller than JPEG files. Use the free WebP Express plugin to generate WebP images automatically for your website.

Use Page Caching

Page caching is the most common form of caching for WordPress websites, in which a static HTML version of each page is stored. It can make your site load faster and, in many cases, lessen the load on the server.

Caching pages accelerates server response time and decreases TTFB, hence enhancing LCP. Caching plugins for WordPress, such as WP Rocket, WP Fastest Cache, and WP Super Cache, provide a simple and intuitive interface for all sorts of caching. These plugins enable caching on your website quickly.

Lastly, ensure that the browser can efficiently cache files. Set the right Expires, Last-Modified, and/or ETag hashes in the HTTP header to stop the same file from being asked for again and again.

Optimize JavaScript and CSS

Your pages will load more slowly if you load JavaScript and CSS before the primary site content. If you reduce the number of resources on your site that obstruct CSS and JavaScript, the page’s primary content will load faster.

CSS @import statements block rendering and load styles sequentially. You should therefore avoid them.

Concatenate or minify CSS and Javascript files, and eliminate CSS that is not being used. Optimize your site’s code to address the PageSpeed tip “Avoid chaining important requests.”

Implement asynchronous and deferred functionality.

Leverage lazy loading

Since lazy loading is used, files that are outside of the visible area are not loaded when the page is first loaded.  This results in a size reduction of the page that is substantially greater, as not all photos load at the same time. Photos load as the user scrolls down the page, bringing them into view as they do so (or just before they come into view).

This method is especially important for websites that host a lot of YouTube videos or other media content. This is because videos and other features that use a lot of resources, like integrated Google Maps, need this method.

Lazy loading is when images on a page only load once a user scrolls down to them, enabling you to achieve LCP at a faster rate. You can do this with plugins such as WP Rocket.

Enable Server-Level Compression

Enable GZIP compression on your server to make your WordPress site work better with different server settings.

Use the free Check GZIP Compression or HTTP Compression Test tool to determine if your website supports GZIP compression.

If your server doesn’t have GZIP compression, you can add it with a plugin for WordPress like WP Rocket or W3 Total Cache.

Implement Preconnect in WordPress

“Preconnect,” tells browsers to set up an HTTP connection to an external domain linked from your page before they are asked to. So, it lets the browser set up a connection early before the HTTP request is sent. This eliminates round-trip latency and shortens the time you have to wait.

Thus, preconnect is a critical optimization tool for WordPress webmasters. Most modern browsers support Preconnect.

You can connect resources like scripts (jQuery and Google Analytics), stylesheets (font files from Google Fonts and third-party websites), and media files. WP Rocket provides a way to add preconnect.

Utilize a CDN

A content delivery network (CDN) is a great way to improve the way your website handles traffic. A CDN uses extra servers to help the origin server when there is a lot of traffic.  This technology is usually used by larger websites with a lot of regular visitors.

Due to the fact that requests from visitors do not have to queue up on the same server, CDNs can help improve LCP. So, the LCP score might be faster, which would improve the user experience overall.

It is also possible to add software such as an image CDN that optimizes and adjusts picture sizes in real time to a CDN’s capabilities. This can help a media-heavy website display its content more quickly.

Visitors to websites that use CDNs don’t have to depend on a single server to get content. They are made up of many servers that are spread out across the world and help send files like images, videos, audio, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to all network servers.

Some WordPress CDN providers, like Bunny.net, Sucuri, Cloudflare, and KeyCDN, can help you distribute cached static website content based on where your visitors are in the world.

How to Improve First Input Delay Scores on WordPress?

Less than 100 milliseconds is recommended for the FID time. Therefore, if it takes any longer than that on your site, your user experience (UX) is probably suffering as a result of it.

first input delay

Most likely, your FID will get better if you optimize your JavaScript, which is one of the best ways to do it. There are several ways to do this.

Minimize or Defer JavaScript

The response speeds of browsers can be sped up by delaying the execution of JavaScript. A deferred JavaScript job will be executed by web browsers after the rendering of a whole web page has been completed. The FIDs of non-essential JavaScript processes can be improved through deferring, and this can be done without impacting the user experience of the page.

Doing so will allow visitors to interact with your website while its JavaScript is still loading in the browser. You can do this by using a plugin such as Async JavaScript, WP Rocket, or W3 Total Cache.

Eliminate Non-Essential Third-Party Scripts

Another way you can improve FID is by removing any unnecessary third-party scripts. Too many scripts can clog your network and lead to slower response times.

There may be a delay in page load time if a third-party script that adds functionality to websites, such as live chat, advertising, and analytics, is used. Third-party code can make it hard to send too many network queries to different providers for large JavaScript jobs or image files.

You may run a PageSpeed Insights test on your website to see how your third-party scripts are performing. Third-party resources that have been loaded, as well as their transfer size and main thread blocking time, can be viewed here.

Third-party scripts can be loaded more quickly using async and deferred attributes. If you do this, you won’t have to deal with the problem of rendering blockage, and the page will load faster. Async and defer are reserved for external scripts. Therefore, important page loading scripts should not use these features.

Implement browser caching

Make use of the browser’s cache to cut down on load time and traffic on the network. The local copies of static assets that have been cached take less time to load the page’s content than the originals. It is always going to be faster to get a resource from your local cache than it is going to be to download it from the internet. Your FID score will improve as a result of caching because it makes it possible for your browser to run faster even when loading JavaScript.

How to Improve Cumulative Layout Shift Scores on WordPress

When page elements change as the page loads, the CLS is usually raised, which is bad. Your CLS should ideally not exceed 0.1. If it is greater than that, you can take measures to improve it.

cumulative layout shift

Specify Image Dimensions

Layout shifts are more likely to happen if you upload media assets with unknown attributes. This is because your web browser needs to figure out the picture size and layout orientation after the image has loaded. This is because the layout of the image has to be decided after the image has loaded. These kinds of occurrences are more likely to take place with large images and files that have a high resolution.

You have made the job of the web browser far more difficult by uploading media files that are missing their size parameters. Every single submitted visual media file needs to have both the height and width parameters filled in by you. Adding the width and height properties to your source code in a manual fashion is one way to accomplish this goal.

Optimize Web Fonts

When you use web fonts, the layout of a page can change, which can be bad for the user. It’s a measure of how long it takes for fonts to load. Flash of Unstyled Text (FOUT) and Flash of Invisible Text (FOIT) are both possible occurrences.

For example, text on a page can be “not-so-good” in style, for example (FOUT). The custom font takes a while to load. In the meantime, the fallback font will be displayed. The default font will be replaced after the custom font is finished. When this happens, the website’s typeface will change, and the text will inevitably change as well.

Alternatively, there may be a delay before any text is shown due to the fact that the custom font is still loaded (FOIT). If you want to see the page’s content, you must wait until the custom fonts are rendered. When this content is finished loading, it may cause the layout to change.

Plugins like WP Rocket can automatically optimize web fonts like Google Fonts.  Load web fonts and set CSS font-display to optional or swap. Ensure you use a similarly-sized fallback font to minimize the layout shift.

Finally, minimize web font usage. Consider using commonly available OS fonts when possible.

Avoid Dynamically ads

Advertisements are identical to embeds, but they carry greater weight. Their significance stems from their substantial contribution to the CLS. Ads that take too long to load cause a website to hop. There is an answer to this problem.

Simply reserve space for these advertisements in the code. When a website is in development, it also needs space for advertisements.

This place in the code will ensure that the advertisement’s content loads properly. It will not affect users in any way.

Placement is a crucial consideration when managing advertisements. Typically, adding advertisements to the top viewport causes a significant movement.

Reserve a spot for embeds and iframes

Iframe dimensions must also be included. Embeds require dimensions if you want to improve the user experience on your website.

These measurements must be included when embedding Google Maps or any other video.

You’ll get better results if you use a stand-in. A placeholder is typically used prior to embedding. Using fixed-width iframes is a best practice that should be followed.

Instead of using YouTube’s embedded code, you can use WP Rocket instead.

Wrapping it up

Going through the above-mentioned steps helps you to measure and optimize the core web vital score for your WordPress website. It will also help you to provide a better user experience to your website visitors. A good user experience has a big impact on SEO, in addition to having an effect on the conversion rate and bounce rate of your website.

If you’re still facing issues while optimizing core web vitals for a WordPress website, hire WordPress developers from a reputed WordPress development company. WordPress developers will help you to optimize your WordPress websites and get the most benefit in terms of higher ranking in search engines like Google. Also, do not forget to check our other article on a detailed comparison between WordPress vs Drupal.

Optimize Core Web Vitals for WordPress website