Did you know that 47 percent of users expect pages to load in about two seconds or even less, and 40 percent of visitors abandon websites if they take over three seconds to load? User experience (UX) and page experience have gained more weight within Google search ranking. In fact, SERPs (search engine results pages) are giving relevance to websites’ responsiveness and interaction. And Google metrics seek to evaluate the user experience based on factors related to loading speed, responsiveness, security, interaction, and stability, among others.
For this reason, building a site with a fast loading speed and easy navigation is essential for your organic positioning. That’s why Google launched Core Web Vitals. This used to be an exclusive field for developers. But now, small business owners and freelancers who want to do it all themselves need to learn the technical skills to add some speed hacks to their websites to keep clients coming. Similarly, if you master Google’s new criteria, you can keep up to date and offer this knowledge to your clients, expanding your services with modern and relevant SEO and UX techniques to impress.
So, if you don’t have a clue on how to optimize your freelance writer website or clients’ sites with WordPress Site Vitals Score, we will show you some tips and tricks to rank better in SERPs and tools to improve these factors on your WordPress website.
What Are Core Web Vitals?
Core Web Vitals are a set of Google metrics that analyze the user experience of a web page. It considers loading time, page interactivity, and visual stability. This is a Google initiative to provide a guide to key factors essential to a good user experience, and to measure the time in which a user can start interacting with the web page they are visiting.
The most important factors of your SEO are still the quality and relevance of your content. However, if your website doesn’t load as it should, Google may put another website with better Core Web Vitals above yours. Therefore, these scores help you increase engagement and traffic to your freelance writing website.
Core Web Vitals simplify the work of optimizing a website, putting the focus on elements that provide a better user experience. They focus on three key aspects: content loading (Largest Contentful Paint), interactivity (First Input Delay) on the web page, and visual stability (Cumulative Layout Shift). Each of the Core Web Vitals represents a different facet of the user experience and performance of your website. Read on to learn how to apply these factors right off the bat!
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
LCP measures how long it takes the largest element of a web page to load. It calculates the time it takes for the image, video or text to appear on the screen. When measuring the loading time of a website, not all elements load at the same time. Elements with bigger sizes don’t load as fast as small-size elements and LCP detects how long it takes to load your entire page considering the loading of the largest element.
For example, if on one of your web pages, the first thing that loads is the text, but the cover image doesn’t load, it is probably the largest element and you will have a very high LCP… And for maintaining a healthy writing business, you must aim for a responsive site. Ideally, the LCP should be below 2.5 seconds. Anything between 2.5 and 4.0 seconds means that your website needs improvement; above 4.0 seconds, your website is not optimized at all.
Actually, most users abandon web pages that take over two seconds to load. And Google search engine will know that your page is not attractive to users and it will stop displaying it in the top positions.
First Input Delay (FID)
FID measures how long it takes for a website to be interactive and responsive to users. Technically, it analyzes how fast your users will interact with website functionalities such as clicking on a button or filling out a form. This metric should be below 100ms. If it’s between 100 and 300ms, it needs improvement, and above 300ms really needs an overhaul.
For instance, imagine a prospective client is visiting your site looking for content writing samples, and it loads perfectly. But a second later, she clicks on a button and the web page doesn’t respond. In that scenario, your website’s first input delay is high because it was expected to be interactive a few milliseconds after loading. This would be a red flag for Google and your website will rank lower in SERPs, bringing fewer clients to your business in the long run.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
CLS measures the stability of the page elements. That is, how long it takes for elements to stop shifting. The elements of a website change places as the content loads, and users may click on places where they did not want to because of a sudden movement. This can create UX issues. Simply put, the more stable your website is, the better for Google rankings.
In everyday life, this often happens when a website has a lot of visual elements such as videos, animations or excessive advertising. If these elements are not optimized to an adequate size to allow fast loading, users entering your website might click on the wrong writing service – and for Google, this is a huge UX issue!
Easy Tools and Speed Hacks for Freelance Writers to Improve Their WordPress Site Vitals Score
Having valuable content and well-thought-out SEO is still the foundation of an excellent website for Google’s algorithm. However, the effects of Core Web Vitals are noticeable. They affect a web page’s positioning in search engines and it could be what puts you ahead of your competition as a freelance writer.
There are over 200 factors that influence SEO for Google. But improving the speed of your website enhances the overall user experience and boosts SEO. A second makes the difference between getting clients or no longer receiving revenue. And the best way to improve the Core Web Vitals on your website is to start with an audit of your site. From this initial analysis, it’s possible to establish a list of priority tasks to ensure that the page meets the standards set by Google. So, follow these WordPress optimization tips and increase the UX of your site:
1. Get a Good Hosting Provider
Having good hosting is one of the most important factors to increase the speed of your website. There are hosting providers specialized in WordPress such as WP Engine, Cloudways, and SiteGround. These web hosting services can store all your images, videos, and text efficiently with a server in the same country (or continent) as your users. This helps keep your website working 24/7.
2. Compress and Optimize Your Website’s Images
Large images, videos, illustrations, and animations negatively affect the performance of your WordPress site. They must be optimized for the web. For example, using a large photo will take longer to load and it may affect the LCP. But you can reduce image sizes with a WordPress plugin such as Ewww Image Optimizer or Imagify. That way you’re speeding up your site and increasing your chances of meeting Google’s Core Web Vitals.
3. Make Sure Your Website Is Mobile Friendly
Mobile-first is the new Google policy. Having a desktop-optimized website is not enough today. It must be fully functional on mobile. Therefore, you need to optimize your website for tablets and mobile. For this, you can change the responsiveness of your site manually, or use a plugin like WP Touch to help you make changes.
4. Use a WordPress Optimized Theme
Look for WordPress themes that have enough reviews and guarantee excellent performance. Some of the most common themes are Astra, OceanWP, and Divi. They offer brilliant performance with fast speed and eye-catching designs.
Having a lot of elements on your website may slow down its performance. In addition, when loading, all these elements may affect the CLS as the burden of them can decrease the stability of a web page. And if it affects the user experience, Google will pick up on that and rank your site lower.
6. Install Only the Essential Plugins
Installing too many plugins on your WordPress site slows down your page. Therefore, remove or deactivate plugins you don’t need anymore. This will increase the speed of all your web pages.
7. Upload Videos from Streaming Platforms
Uploading videos directly to your WordPress Media Library slows down the speed of your site. However, if you embed videos from YouTube, Dailymotion, or Vimeo, you won’t have to host your videos on your server, so it increases the overall speed of your website.
8. Update Your WordPress Site and Plugins
Using the latest version of WordPress ensures that your speed is optimal because you avoid security issues, bugs, and poor loading time. In addition, having up-to-date plugins will ensure you have the most optimized versions for better performance.
9. Use Plugins like MonsterInsights to Monitor Your Website’s Speed
Monitoring your site speed regularly helps you detect changes over time and correct anomalies in load times. And catching issues early on helps you maintain your website performance in the long run.
Tools to Measure WordPress Site Vitals Score
If your website is well-maintained and carefully crafted, you may not have to make any changes. However, if your website loads slowly, this is an excellent opportunity to try a couple of tools that will help you meet the Core Web Vitals requirements.
Google now considers not only the user experience but also the page experience. Ranking in search engine results is no longer only based on keyword optimization strategies and quality content. Your entire website should perform optimally. And now any website owner can also improve these metrics with plugins such as MonsterInsights or Google Search Console.
MonsterInsights is one of the best plugins for WordPress. It allows you to link Google Analytics to your site without having to use code. Just a couple of clicks and that’s it! MonsterInsights gives you the tools you need to better understand your readers and prepare your strategies to reach a wider audience. For instance, it allows you to:
- Efficiently manage your site
- Add and customize Google Analytics
- Set up Form Conversion Tracking in Google Analytics
- Track file downloads
- Monitor your marketing performance
- Manage and track affiliate links
- And much more!
Now, MonsterInsights also considers WordPress Site Vitals Score and generates a detailed report on the loading speed of your website. Particularly, MonsterInsights’ Site Speed Report helps you optimize your page loading time, and you can see everything right from your own WordPress dashboard.
To get pagespeed insights, you can download the MonsterInsights plugin in WordPress. Once installed, navigate to Insights in the left sidebar. Then, click on Reports and go to Site Speed. The plugin will automatically analyze elements like server response time, first contentful paint, time to interactive, and total blocking time.
Google Search Console is a tool to optimize your website according to Google’s algorithm criteria. It shows you how to optimize and monitor your site, improve its positioning, and fix SEO problems. With it, you can find out how Google views your website and what you need to improve to rank higher in SERPs. With Google Search Console you will be able to:
- Analyze the traffic on your website
- Monitor and analyze the performance of your site
- Identify inbound links and internal links
- Detect errors affecting your web pages
- Optimize your website structure
- Submit new pages for Google crawlers to index
- Detect security problems on your website
- Remove URLs that you don’t want to appear in search results
- Know which are the most successful pages of your site
As Google’s native tool, with Google Search Console you will be able to measure and detect any problem on your website quickly. However, it isn’t as simple as MonsterInsights. The use of this tool and its configuration requires more time and experience to master it.
Improve Your WordPress Site Vitals Score and Optimize Your Site
Core Web Vitals are the new web performance optimization metrics. They can make or break a site and affect how it ranks based on the three factors LCP, FID, and CLS. If your site gets a bad score during a test, that tells you that Google and other search engines are no doubt penalizing you by ranking your site lower. So, if you want to feature higher in SERPs and get more traffic to your WordPress site, you need to improve your Site Vitals score.
Make sure your website is up to date. Check all its elements and analyze its loading time regularly. And always look for a balance between classical SEO criteria and Core Web Vitals because getting your website to load properly will improve the user experience and boost engagement.
In the end, no matter how optimized your website is, if your content doesn’t bring value to your readers, you won’t keep people on your site anyway. But if your website doesn’t load fast right away, you will never reach the top positions on Google either.