Core Web Vitals – A Guide for Healthcare Organisations
So, you’re in charge of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for a healthcare organisation? Bravo! Taking on the challenge of increasing a healthcare company’s organic visibility is certainly not an easy task (believe us, we know). Not only is healthcare a notoriously competitive sector, understanding what Google’s algorithms are looking for in a healthcare website can, at times, be like trying to tame a mythical beast. Just when you think you’ve finally cracked it Google adds another ranking signal to the mix and you feel like you’re back to square one. The latest ranking factor Google now takes into consideration when determining the order of the organic search results… A website’s Core Web Vitals score.
As a healthcare marketer, over the last 6 months it’s likely you have come across the term ‘Core Web Vitals’ at some point. As it is such a major yet recent update, you, like so many others, may be wondering what it actually is and why is Google now taking it into account when deciding SERP ranking? To help you answer these questions and give you an idea of what to look out for on a healthcare website, we have put together ‘Core Web Vitals – A Guide for Healthcare Organisations’.
Core Web Vitals – Overview
Put simply, the Google’s Core Web Vitals report measures a user experience on a webpage. Previously, when analysing user experience, Google would take into account whether a site was mobile-friendly, HTTPS secured, or whether it was free of intrusive interstitials (pop-up adverts). Now, a website’s Core Web Vitals score is also taken into consideration.
Created to help web developers pinpoint any issues, Core Web Vitals are essentially 3 standardised metrics from Google that quantify a user’s experience of a web page.
The 3 Core Web Vitals are:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – Page loading performance.
- First Input Delay (FID) – Ease of interaction.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) – Visual stability from a user’s perspective.
Before we delve into each one and explain what they are, it is worth noting that each of these metrics are measured in the field a.k.a users in the real world. If you’ve read other articles on Core Web Vitals there’s a possibility that other metrics such as Total Blocking Time (TBT) have been mentioned. These metrics are measured in the lab a.k.a in a controlled, simulated environment. While it is still important to consider these metrics (improving them will ultimately help you improve page experience), lab data is not taken into account when it comes to Core Web Vitals.
The Core Web Vitals
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
What does it measure? Page load speed.
How? Registers the time seconds from when the page starts loading to when the largest text block or image element is rendered on the screen.
Importance? In the eyes of Google if a webpage has a fast load speed it is considered ‘useful’. Ultimately a quick page load speed will increase the chances of a user engaging with your healthcare website. This will help you generate more appointments.
Good score: <= 2.5s
Average Score: > 2.5s and <= 4s
Poor score: > 4s
How to improve it?
Consider setting up lazy loading (where objects are only rendered when they are needed) , remove any unnecessary third-party scripts, or get rid of any unnecessarily large page elements.
First Input Delay (FID)
What does it measure? Ease of interaction
How? Measures the time in milliseconds from when a user first interacts with your site (e.g. they tap a button) to when the browser is able to respond to that interaction.
Importance? Web Pages that don’t react quickly when a user first interacts can cause frustration and prompt them to leave. Imagine, someone goes onto one of the treatment pages on your website and finds it difficult to interact… That could mean a lost appointment!
Good score: <= 100ms
Average Score: > 100ms and <= 300ms
Poor score: > 300ms
How to improve it?
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
What does it measure? How visually stable a page is
How? A CLS score is assigned which measures how many elements move between two frames in the viewport (what you can see on screen) and if so how far they move.
Importance? No one wants to go to a webpage where elements are jumping around, especially on a mobile phone. As pages on healthcare websites often contain vital information about procedures and booking details it is vital you make the information as digestible as possible.
Good score: <= 0.1
Average Score: > 0.1 and <= 0.25
Poor score: > 0.25
How to improve it?
Try using set size attribute dimensions for any media, making sure ad elements have a reserved space and any new User Interface (UI) elements are below the fold.
Non Core Web Vitals
As mentioned previously, a number of other metrics can be used to measure webpage experience that aren’t included in the Core Web Vitals report. These are the Non Core Web Vitals. While some can also be measured in the field, all of them are measured in a lab environment. Even though they won’t affect your Core Web Vitals score, as a healthcare marketer it is important that you are aware of these other metrics as improving them will ensure a better user experience on your healthcare website.
First Contentful Paint (FCP)
The time from when a page starts loading to when ANY part of that page’s content is rendered on the screen. Having a fast FCP will reassure a user that something is happening.
Good score: <= 1.8s
Average Score: > 1.8s and <= 3s
Poor score: > 3s
Speed Index (SI)
The average time it takes for content on a webpage to be displayed to a user. It is calculated using a frame by frame analysis.
Good score: <= 3.4s
Average Score: > 3.4s and <= 5.8s
Poor score: > 5.8s
Time to Interactive (TTI)
The time from when a page loads to when it is fully interactive. It is essentially a measurement of how quickly a page becomes functional.
Good score: <= 3.8s
Average Score: > 3.8s and <= 7.3s
Poor score: > 7.3s
Total Blocking Time (TBT)
The total time in milliseconds between First Contentful Paint (FCP) and Time To Interactive (TTI). It is widely considered the best alternative to First Input Delay (FID).
Good score: <= 200ms
Average Score: > 200ms and <= 600ms
Poor score: > 600ms
There you have it, a whistlestop tour of Google’s Core Web Vitals and what they will measure on your healthcare website. While you may have to enlist the help of a developer to remedy any issues that may be affecting your Core Web Vitals score, it is important for you to be aware of them as a healthcare marketer. At the end of the day, your website is part of the patient experience you provide. Ensuring visitors to your site enjoy a seamless experience will inevitably lead to more enquiries and appointments.
If you would like more information about Google’s Core Web Vitals or would like to speak to one of our SEO experts feel free to get in touch today.
Include links to the keywords Healthcare SEO, Healthcare PPC and Healthcare Marketing Agency.
KIERAN PRESS – MARKETING MANAGER
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