You might have heard about the new Core Web Vitals update from Google and found yourself wondering, “how will this affect my WordPress site?” There are whispers that Google is ranking pages differently in search results based on mobile site speed, and now you’re worried about how it will impact your SEO strategy.
While Google’s new update is definitely causing a stir, its purpose is to improve the quality of everyone’s online experience, and that’s a good thing. At SiteCare, we are doing a few things to get our client’s sites ready, including implementing lazy loading and optimizing images and other digital web assets to prevent them from slowing sites down.
Another way to optimize your site speed in preparation for Google’s algorithm update is by installing a plugin designed for this very thing.
In this article, we take a closer look at Google’s new search ranking update, its implications, and a WordPress offering for meeting Google’s updates head-on: Jetpack Boost.
Table of contents
- What are Core Web Vitals?
- What is Jetpack Boost?
- How do I install Jetpack Boost?
- Will Jetpack Boost help my SEO?
- Free Core Web Vitals assessment
What are Core Web Vitals?
Google introduced its Core Web Vitals report in 2020 to give site owners insights into how users experience their websites. The idea was to make it easy to understand where their user experience (UX) needed improvement.
The Core Web Vitals report analyzes certain website elements (related to loading time, interactivity, and visual stability) to determine if a website offers a positive user journey. In addition, a site’s Core Web Vitals report analyzes a site’s overall performance to offer insights on what can be optimized for improved UX.
Google’s Core Web Vitals report measure your site health and page experience in three ways:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP). This metric relates to perceived site speed and loading performance. It measures when the largest content element on a web page becomes visible on a user’s device screen. 2.0 seconds or less is an excellent score, while four seconds or more means your site needs improvement.
- First Input Delay (FID). FID measures your site’s interactivity and responsiveness, specifically how long it takes your browser to respond to a user’s first interaction on your site. FID looks at the delay time between a user’s click on a button or link to the time your browser acts. For your site to be rated as offering a good user experience, it needs to have an FID of 100 ms or less; Anything below 300 ms means your FID rating is poor.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). CLS measures the page stability of your site as it loads. A CLS ranking of 0.1 or less is excellent, while a ranking of 0.25 or more needs improvement)
Google recently announced that it will now include page experience scores as a metric in its ranking algorithm. This is because high-level user experience (UX) is directly linked to the health and quality of a website, so Google wants to include those factors in determining search rankings.
For WordPress site owners, this means that your pages’ design, speed, and performance will affect your search rankings.
It’s now important to build and construct a website that can leverage Core Web Vitals signals for SEO. Metrics such as load times will connect and inform your page’s ability to deliver high-quality engagement. Slow uptimes for pages and bad site function are bad for customers, and fixing these elements now needs to become an important part of your SEO strategy.
The better your Core Web Vitals and overall page experience score, the more favorable Google will rank you. Plus, it appears that you need to met minimum thresholds for your Core Web Vitals to feature in Google’s top stories. Therefore, if your WordPress site relies on SEO for its organic traffic, it is crucial that you test, measure, and improve any current page experience scores.
Improving your CLS scores or lowering your LCP times by an entire second might be a confusing task for you. Luckily, to help you increase your page experience scores without the need for technical know-how, WordPress has integrated Jetpack Boost.
What is Jetpack Boost?
Jetpack Boost is a plugin that can be added for free to your admin interface from the WordPress Repository (a library of add-ons made by other developers). The plugin was created by Automattic, a group of engineers that build open source web applications (and the developers of WordPress.com itself.) They designed Jetpack Boost to address the speed and site function issues of WordPress.
Since a one-second delay in load times can reduce conversion rates by 20%, JetPack boost uses several methods to improve site speed, helping satisfy any core web vital requirements. Best of all, it is easy to install and simple to execute (you do not have to manipulate any CSS or HTML documents).
Once installed and activated, Jetpack Boost automatically measures your load speeds and lets you optimize your website through three performance modules:
- Optimize CSS Loading. The plugin extracts Critical CSS to present static elements from above the fold at a higher rate. Content that is immediately visible to your user will load before any other page details, helping increase the perceived load speed. The rest of the CSS information will load later as they scroll. As a result, page experience and performance scores can increase.
- Lazy Image Loading. The plugin ensures that only the images visible to the user load. As the customer scrolls, then any additional images will appear. This performance module decreases bandwidth and increases site speed.
Each performance module is executed on the JetPack Boost plugin interface with single clicks, and they will measure the performance of each module as you reconfigure your website.
How do I install Jetpack Boost?
There are two ways that you can install Jetpack Boost on your WordPress website: A backend installation or an automatic installation with a Jetpack plugin plan purchase.
WordPress Admin installation
- Step 1: Search for Jetpack in the WordPress Plugins Tab
- Step 2: Click Download beside the Jetpack Boost Title
- Step 3: After the plugin downloads onto your computer, either run the program or click Activate. In both instances, you will be prompted to Set Up Jetpack.
- Step 4: A tab will automatically ask for you to connect your WordPress site. If required, sign in with your WordPress login credentials.
- Step 5: Choose a Jetpack plan if desired, or select the Start With Free button located at the bottom of the page.
- Step 6: A setup checklist will populate, and you can select any additional features you would like. You can always manage these features later as well.
- Step 7: Once your WordPress account is connected to the plugin, most Jetpack performance modules will be activated by default. You can always adjust these configurations in your WordPress site Admin Settings.
Congrats, you loaded the Jetpack Boost plugin to your backend and are already optimizing your core web vitals!
Automatic installation with a Jetpack Plan purchase
- Step 1: Go to the Jetpack Plugin shop webpage: https://wordpress.com/jetpack/connect/store
- Step 2: Select a plan with the necessary features.
- Step 3: Enter your WordPress Administrator credentials. Note: these are not your site login credentials but your admin username and password. This ensures that Jetpack installs securely while also connecting to the right site.
- Step 4: Once Jetpack is installed, complete the checkout and billing process to initiate payment.
- Step 5: A setup checklist will populate, and you can select any additional features to include with your plugin. You can always manage these features later as well.
- Step 6: click Return To Admin to go to your WordPress dashboard and view the Jetpack performance modules.
Remember, WordPress and Jetpack Boost are free, open-source applications. The purchase plans are for additional premium features such as increased security or daily backups.
Will Jetpack Boost help my SEO?
The Jetpack Boost plugin can speed up your WordPress site and do the heavy lifting regarding your Core Web Vitals. Speed increases should help your page experience score as you provide your users with a more seamless and frictionless path around your website. Any advantage in that area could give you a boost in your SEO rankings.
What’s next for Jetpack Boost?
Automattic has stated that they wanted to release version 1.0 the minute it was stable so that WordPress site owners could easily improve their page performance before the Google core web vitals update. Advanced techniques are expected to be developed for the plugin at a later date, and Automattic will include those performance modules in future versions.
Ongoing testing phases to determine the efficiency of the Jetpack Plugin should help WordPress site owners improve their site performance.
As SEO and WordPress maintenance experts, we can offer you professional service improvements to maximize your WordPress site.
Click on the banner above or the below link for a detailed look at your current Core Web Vitals performance score. The assessment is 100% free!