Beneath the slick and simplistic graphics of the Google homepage, a complex algorithm decides what results appear on the screen for every user search made. And that algorithm has been constantly updated to ensure users only have the best search experience.
For law firms that attract clients online, maximizing this algorithm is critical. It can differentiate between taking the top spot on search results and getting buried on the third or fourth page.
Backlinks, contents, and rankbrain are the top three ranking factors in terms of Google SERPs. However, in May 2020, a new ranking signal was announced— Core Web Vitals.
What does this new ranking signal mean for your law firm’s website and SEO efforts? This article explains everything you need to know about Core Web Vitals and various solutions to make your law site ready and optimized for it.
Understanding Core Web Vitals And Their Goal
Google has now placed significant focus on user experience as a primary site ranking factor. Thus, they created the core web vitals, which are three metrics to measure the usability of a website.
The overall goal of the core web vitals is to provide users with a better experience when browsing your law firm website. These metrics help identify potential issues on three major UX components of your website.
Any issue with any one component can negatively impact how users use and engage with your website and indicate site health issues. AS a result, these issues can influence Google to lower your search engine ranking.
The 3 Core Web Vitals
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
This metric determines how long a website takes to render the largest text block or image. It places a specific emphasis on the perceived load speed and access to the “main” content of each page.
In simpler terms, LCP essentially boils down to the average loading speed of your law firm’s web pages.
Anyone who’s ever left a website page just because it took too long to load knows the power of LCP. Also, when users can access your law firm webpage and content instantly, they’ll be far more likely to interact with it.
Scored at the page level, LCP targets several main content types. For instance, your images of your lawyers might be the main content for the “About” page or the main subheading might be the main content for your blog page.
In general, you want a loading time of 2.5 seconds or less to meet Google’s established UX expectations. Loading time over 4 seconds is considered poor and has a negative impact on your Google ranking.
- First Input Display (FID)
This metric tracks the time from when a user first interacts with your law firm web page after landing on it to the time the website starts processing the interaction.
In short, it measures your website’s response when a user clicks or taps on a link or a button.
In order to pass Google standards, your law firm website page should achieve an FID score of fewer than 100 milliseconds. A score of over 300 milliseconds can become devastating to your SEO performance.
After all, if a user clicks on a button and nothing happens or fills out a form that simply fails to save is bound to feel annoyed and frustrated.
You can improve your FID by limiting the negative impact of 3rd party code such as added scripts for digital analytics like A/B testing. You can also compress CSS files, use “lazy loading: for less urgent content and break up long Java script tasks.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
You may be prioritizing user experience, but you may still be forgetting about your website layout. Most law firm websites still stuff their pages with interstitials, banners, and intrusive ads that completely harm the user experience.
This is why Google added CLS as a core web vital. This metric sums up all layout shifts not caused by user interaction. In simpler terms, it allows you to learn how difficult it is for users to interact or read your page as it loads.
Shifting page elements and misclicks are annoying and Google believes that they affect the overall usability of your law firm’s website. When users land on your website and are faced with pop-ups and several elements moving around, it reduces their browsing experience instead of letting them know more about law firms and find answers to their questions.
A CLS score can be 0 for static pages and can go higher as more layout shifts and changes occur. The lower CLS score, the better the visual stability of your website. Preferably, you want to maintain a CLS score of below 0.1.
Improving your CLS score can help in enhancing user access to your law firm’s most important web pages, boosting CTR, and increasing lead generation. It also prevents users from accidentally tapping or clicking on random content and saves them from the annoyance of visiting a web page that differs from the one they want to see.
To ensure good stability on your website, you need to pay careful attention to the defining image sizes n your HTML. Also, use font:display values and link rel=preload to help stabilize your website and font layout.
As you can see, Google’s Core Web Vitals aren’t as complicated as they sound. If you want to attract more visitors to your law firm website and project a credible image online, consider optimizing your website for these metrics right away!