Core Website Vitals

Posted July 13, 2021 in
Content Content

Lex Russell

Why do content marketers constantly feel cold? They’re surrounded by drafts.

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Ever since the core web vitals Google ranking update was announced, I have been trying to get our website up to speed (pun intended). In the beginning, I did a lot of research, tried to find out if I could fix things myself, and then ultimately found that the outside website team we use would have to perform updates.

This website team has been working since March to try different fixes for our website to improve our LCP and CLS scores. They updated our Wordpress, they tested the sticky nav as a contributing factor, and we purchased a plug-in to optimize all 10,000 of our photos. Next, they tried the Cloudways Breeze caching plugin but it disabled all of our homepage videos so it had to be turned off.

After the updates, we still are not seeing many "Good URLs" and it almost felt like a waste of time. And, I'm not sure that we will be able to get any more website hours approved for work on this. Does anyone have suggestions on how to go about fixing this? I assumed our website team would know the best solutions. Or is this just as good as it will get? 

This is where we were at pre-updates:

Mobile
  • Poor URLs: 385
  • URLs Need Improvement: 0
  • Good URLs: 0
Desktop
  • Poor URLs: 209
  • URLs Need Improvement: 276
  • Good URLs: 8
This is after:

Mobile
  • Poor URLs: 373
  • URLs Need Improvement: 0
  • Good URLs: 15
Desktop (this was really the only place we saw a little improvement)
  • Poor URLs: 0
  • URLs Need Improvement: 474
  • Good URLs: 8
Any advice is appreciated!
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Bob Ruffolo
Hi  Lex Russell - 2 things... First, I love the dad joke in your bio! I laughed out loud. And second - I think  Kevin Church  can help with your question. :)
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Lex Russell
Thank you x2! 
Kevin Church
Hi,  Lex Russell .  This is really complex and I'd recommending finding a good technical SEO who is familiar with WordPress and its specific performance issues around Core Web Vitals to really dig in on things. I can refer you to a few that I know and trust if you need.

That said, I did see a few things that caught my attention that you should have your existing developers look at:

• Embedded pages and post images I came across during my quick look at the site showed that the vast majority of images had been optimized. However, I found a lot of banner and background images (like this one https://aquilacommercial.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/banner-image.png) that were still 720-800kb.

• Content on some learning center pieces is being ported from Tableau, and that's tripping up Lighthouse's results; it doesn't seem to affect the real render time, but it does make Lighthouse's performance score drop.

• See if there's a way to optimize your YouTube embeds to be more streamlined and load more quickly.  Embed Plus is a WP plugin that I know works for this.

• It may also be time to talk to your developers about using a CDN to deliver images instead of your own servers. Your server response times are the single biggest thing keeping your FCP score so low. You can also talk to your host provider.

I know it's not the easy fix you were hoping for, but I do hope these help!  

(And another thing to keep in mind: your competition. Take a look at how their sites are performing in Lighthouse.  If you're ahead of them, you're still the best in town!)
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Lex Russell
Thank you SO much for the detailed advice!!

I figured it probably wouldn't be a simple solution but this gives me some leverage to bring to my team for (hopefully) putting some more time into this.

It looks like only two of our major competitors are ahead of us in lighthouse right now so I guess that is a good sign though.

I'm going to share this info with my team and see if we should pursue it further. If we do - I will reach out to you for some of your referrals! 

Thank you again!!

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Lex Russell
Small update here  Kevin Church - I used that YouTube plugin your recommended and updated all of our YouTube videos on our website and I also optimized all of our photo galleries (not an easy or quick task lol). I recently started a new crawl and the initial results are looking much better than before. 

I'm still looking into how to fix some of our banner images (our image optimizing plugin messes up their cropping - which is why I had to unoptimize them.) And we decided leaving the Tableau embeds was worth the hit. 

We also have a Wordpress update we need and a lot of plugin updates - which I think are causing our issues but we are afraid to do these ourselves without breaking our website.

Just wanted to say thank you again for the advice - a lot of these smaller steps seem to be helping!!
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Kevin Church
Lex Russell  - That's great to hear! Optimizing images is nobody's idea of a good time, but you should be able to get them from 800kb to 80-100kb without anyone noticing. Good luck with the Wordpress upgrades. 
Pamela Pierce
I'm surprised you had to purchase a plug in to optimize your images, I thought google had a free way to optimize images.  That's what I intend to use.  I am wondering about your URLs.  Why do they need to be improved?  I've never run into this before.  Thanks.
Lex Russell
I'm not familiar with Google's free way to optimize images. But, we had around 10,000 images in WordPress that needed to be optimized so we were looking for a quick fix. The plugin we purchased is called Imagify.

Basically, the "URLs need improvement" means a certain set of pages need to be optimized based on user experience and page speed. And if you have poor URLs in your Google Search Console’s Core Web Vitals, it will negatively affect your ranking on Google.

Here are some articles that explain it better than I can:

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Dale Pease
I've been working on the speed of our site for quite a while as well. Both my developer, and the server admin have done quite a bit to speed things up, but we still get similar results as you do. (Better than before, but not there yet.) I am starting to think it might require more of a specialist who really knows the nitty-gritty of meeting Google's standards. My developer is great, but this isn't one of his strengths. I did spend some time a few weeks ago running Google's Speedtest against a bunch of website's home pages, and honestly, I couldn't find any that were better than what we are getting. So I think just about everyone isn't meeting Google's standards (Even Google's own corporate site.)
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