Venatus' Marketing Manager, Kitty Bartholomew, takes a deep dive into Google's Core Web Vitals to explore what these metrics mean for publishers and their audiences
Every publisher is acutely aware of the power of SEO in scaling their business. Since the early 90s, search engine optimisation has evolved dramatically to bring users to the most relevant and trustworthy content. The days of keyword and backlink spamming are fortunately now behind us, allowing publishers to focus on making authentic changes to drive page rankings, such as improving site speed and offering a mobile-friendly user experience. But more changes are now on the horizon, with Google announcing a new set of metrics for publishers to meet in order to maintain and grow their rankings on Google.
In April of 2020, Google introduced a new initiative called Core Web Vitals, which are a set of metrics Google considers a crucial part of a site’s user experience. These metrics will likely evolve over time to reflect the ever-changing digital experience, with the first three metrics due to come into effect this month and focus on the following areas:
It's important to note that websites that may struggle to meet some of the Core Web Vitals standards are not necessarily 'bad' websites. Core Web Vitals are not the only way to measure the value of a site - we have all visited a website that loads quickly only to find poor quality content, a cumbersome user journey and poorly targeted ads. Quality content and relevant advertising alongside a swift, stable and scalable site will always be the true gold standard.
But what are these metrics, and how can publishers prepare for the changes ahead?
Core Web Vital metrics explained
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): LCP measures loading performance. To provide a good user experience, LCP should occur within 2.5 seconds of when the page first starts loading. This metric demonstrates how quickly the main content of a web page loads and is visible to users.
LCP can be improved by compressing images, implementing lazy loading for ads, using a content delivery network for images and establishing third-party connections early.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): CLS measures visual stability. Pages should maintain a CLS of less than 0.1 - this refers to sites that jump after content is loaded or make it difficult to click on links due to layout changes. These unexpected shifts occur on websites that don’t use a preloader to reserve space for high impact ads such as takeovers. Without a preloader, audiences will experience a delay in ad rendering that makes the content of the pages jump and shift to make space for the advertisement. Rather than losing out on these engaging and high yielding formats, publishers utilise preloaders to protect their websites user experience. We recommend 970x250 either below or above the sites' navigation bar.
At Venatus, we take page experience very seriously and we have been working with our publishers over the last year to make the necessary changes to increase web vitals across our portfolio. We believe that these new metrics offer welcome insight into site performance that can help drive higher standards for publishers, advertisers and their audiences.
We also believe that these metrics are just one aspect of a website's value and understand that so much of a site's performance relies on its content. The writing, imagery, videography, community and subject matter of a site keeps audiences coming back for more. So while Core Web Vitals are undoubtedly here to stay, we urge publishers not to sacrifice their site speed for their content as the true winners here will do both. Working with a monetisation provider like Venatus, who can support them in making these changes, will allow publishers the time to do what they do best - create and share incredible content.
Posted on: Wednesday 8 September 2021