Onion Studio | Agencia de marketing digital
11, junio 2021

Google changes Core Web Vitals metrics to make them more realistic

Onion Studio

Un artículo de Onion Studio

On this blog, we’ve been covering the announcements Google has made over the past year about the Core Web Vitals. It’s a new set of parameters -although taking into account our work as a developers agency the use of the word «new» is fairly liberal in this context-, to measure the quality of the user’s experience when using a web site. It was supposed to be launched last spring, but it got a bit delayed and it won’t fully roll out until the next few months. A few days ago, Google announced that it’s changing a few Core Web Vitals metrics, in order to make them more realistic about the real experience the average user has.

Google modifies Core Web Vital metrics to adapt them to a more realistic field experience

The three CWV parameters measure different factors, but they all are ultimately about speed. The aim of the CWV is to push developers into making more stable, fast and intuitive sites for people.

However, measurement parameters are imperfect, and therefore can be unfair. Taking into account that the CWV are designed to factor into web positioning, the possibility that unrealistic requirements were asked to pass the test of Google’s satisfaction was cause for -slight- concern among developers.

Google has recently said that score parameters will be slightly more flexible, in order to adjust them to a real experience environment. Whenever a product is being developed or tested, the conditions in which said product is later going to live are simulated through lab data.

Nevertheless, said simulated conditions aren’t always as realistic as we could hope, simply because it is very difficult to correctly predict every single variable that factors into the average Internet user’s experience.

The speed of the hosting’s response, the quality of network connection or the power of the individual’s device: all of these factors in when it comes to interpreting the quality of the experience. That is why the CWV parameters are relaxing a bit its requirements:

New min and max measures for Core Web Vitals metrics:

  • First Contentful Paint. It measures how long it takes a site to render the first visual element since it starts loading.
    • Because it is more a reflection on hosting service rather than coding quality, the threshold for a “Good” reading has gone from 1 second to 1.8 seconds.
  • Largest Contentful Paint. It measures how long it takes to load the heaviest piece of content on the page. The new changes are:
    • Background images will be ignored
    • Several images will be measured conjointly if they all are the same size and they all qualify as the biggest element
    • Offscreen elements will be taken into account
  • Cumulative Layout Shift. Is the metric that calculated the visual stability of the page. As the Chrome Speed Metric Team says, CLS parameters were not fair to sites that usually receive very long sessions, or that necessarily change its screen content often (like a web updating a sports game score).
    • To avoid unfair readings, the time to measure CLS will be capped at 5 seconds into a window session, instead of counting the overall CLS.

Imagen de un buscador de Google con la palabra Analytics

Programmers, communities and developers agencies’ feedback will lead the way from now on

Before a major update or product is launched, Google’s teams ask the community for feedback based on the field test that programmers, developers and agencies have done with the product or project. It is only reasonable to expect new updates regarding this Core web Vitals subject.

Right now, CWV are more on the developers minds than SEOs’ (who are more worried about MuM, but we’ll talk about this some other time).

The Core Web Vitals’ aim is to push as creators to prioritize UX, in order to create an atmosphere of easy, satisfactory sites with quality content and free of unnecessary visuals. Just like it happens with any big update, we’ll have to wait until it fully tunes to incorporate it completely into our routines.