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The importance of Core Web Vitals in ecommerce: Why you should monitor them regularly

Introduction

In the highly competitive world of ecommerce, user experience is everything. It’s not enough to have a visually appealing website with great product offerings – if your website is slow to load or difficult to navigate, your potential customers will quickly lose patience and move on to your competitors. This is where Core Web Vitals come in – a set of metrics that measure the user experience of a website. In this article, we’ll explore the importance of Core Web Vitals in ecommerce and why you should monitor them regularly.

[Updated on March 2024]

Contents:

What are Core Web Vitals?

Core Web Vitals are a set of metrics that measure the user experience of a website. They were introduced by Google in 2020 as a way to help website owners and developers optimize website performance and improve user experience. Core Web Vitals are made up of three metrics: Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID), and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS).

The goal for ecommerce businesses is to minimize LCP, FID, and CLS. But what do they mean? Here’s a simple breakdown of definitions and user/business impacts.

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)

Largest Contentful Paint

What is it?

LCP measures the time it takes for the largest element on the screen to load – usually this is a hero banner image or video in an ecommerce site.

Why is it important for online shoppers?

A fast LCP means that users can quickly see the content they are looking for, which improves engagement and reduces bounce rates.

What is the business impact of not optimizing it?

A slow LCP can lead to frustration and cause users to abandon the website.

Interaction to Next Paint (INP)

What is Interaction to Next Paint (INP)

What is it?

INP measures the time it takes for a user’s interaction with a website to lead to the next visual change on the screen, such as loading a new page or updating content. This metric is crucial in understanding how quickly a website responds to user actions.

NOTE: As of March 12th, 2024, INP has replaced First Input Delay (FID) in Core Web Vitals metrics.

Why is it important for online shoppers?

When a user clicks a button or interacts with a form, they expect the website to respond quickly.

What is the business impact of not optimizing it?

Failure to optimize INP could result in frustrating delays for users during critical points in the shopping journey. A slow response to user interactions can lead to cart abandonment or dissatisfaction, as shoppers are likely to search elsewhere for a better shopping experience.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

What is it?

CLS measures the visual stability of a website, i.e. how often elements on the screen move around as the website loads.

Why is it important for online shoppers?

By minimizing CLS, ecommerce websites can provide users a more stable and user-friendly experience, which can lead to higher engagement and sales.

What is the business impact of not optimizing it?

A high CLS score can be frustrating for users, especially when they are trying to interact with buttons or links that move around as they load. This can cause users to accidentally click on the wrong element, which can lead to frustration and lost conversions.

A video illustrating how layout instability can negatively affect the user experience
An example of how layout instability can negatively affect the user experience

How Core Web Vitals are measured and scored

Core Web Vitals are measured using a standardized set of tools and methodologies. The metrics are collected using real user data, which means that they are based on actual user experiences.

The scores for Core Web Vitals range from “good” to “poor”, with a score of 75 or higher considered “good”. Websites that score poorly on Core Web Vitals are more likely to experience higher bounce rates, lower engagement, and decreased conversion rates.

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The Importance of Core Web Vitals in Ecommerce

Online shoppers expect fast, easy-to-use websites that provide them with the information they need quickly and efficiently. Core Web Vitals can have a significant impact on the user experience of an ecommerce website, and ignoring them can lead to lost sales and decreased customer satisfaction.

In explaining the concepts of LCP, FID and CLS above, we summarized a few reasons why the core metrics in Core Web Vitals are so important for users and ecommerce businesses. Now, let’s take a deeper look at 3 major business areas that are directly impacted by Core Web Vitals performance.

Website Performance Affects Ecommerce Conversion Rates

One of the primary reasons why Core Web Vitals are so important in ecommerce is that they can have a direct impact on conversion rates. Studies have shown that website speed and performance can have a significant impact on how likely a shopper is to complete a purchase. In fact, a delay of just one second in website load time can lead to a 7% decrease in conversions.

This means that ecommerce businesses that want to maximize their sales and revenue need to prioritize website performance, including Core Web Vitals. By monitoring and optimizing these metrics, ecommerce businesses can provide a better user experience and increase the likelihood that shoppers will complete a purchase.

Poor Performance Can Lead to Cart Abandonment

Another key reason why Core Web Vitals are important in ecommerce is that poor website performance can lead to cart abandonment. Online shoppers are notoriously impatient, and if a website is slow or difficult to use, they are likely to abandon their shopping cart and move on to a competitor’s website.

In fact, a study by Akamai found that 40% of online shoppers will abandon a website if it takes more than three seconds to load. This means that ecommerce businesses that fail to prioritize website performance, including Core Web Vitals, are likely to experience higher rates of cart abandonment and lost sales.

The Impact of Core Web Vitals on Search Engine Rankings

In addition to the impact on user experience and conversion rates, Core Web Vitals can also have an impact on search engine rankings. Google has made it clear that website performance is becoming an increasingly important ranking factor, and Core Web Vitals are a key part of that.

Ecommerce businesses that prioritize website performance, including Core Web Vitals, are more likely to see improved search engine rankings and increased visibility in search engine results pages. This can lead to more organic traffic, more sales, and increased revenue.

Tools for monitoring Core Web Vitals

Google’s introduction of Core Web Vitals allow both the technical and business communities to understand the quality of the user experience they are delivering to users. Back in Aug 2021, Google also began using page experience as a factor in their ranking algorithm, rolling out a feature that ensured faster loading sites will be positioned higher in the search result.

Google introduced a Page Experience Report in its Search Console as one of the tools for monitoring the page performance. However, most businesses still do not have adequate tools to monitor page performance and Core Web Vitals. This results in them not being fast enough to optimize their performance scores.

There are a number of tools in the market that can help your business monitor Web Vitals for your online store. Nevertheless there are some key features to look out for when deciding on the most suitable one for your business:

  • Real-time: It is critical to not only be able to test and track performance metrics in real-time, but also on-demand.
  • Flexibility: You should have the flexibility to configure as many tests as needed, adjust frequency of execution, and across different pages of your website.
  • Insights: A high-level ecommerce performance monitoring tool should report the results and provide actionable insight that is easy to understand – if poor performance is detected, it should adequately assess its impact to the business and the actual user experience.
  • Alerting: The tool should have alert / notification options to trigger according to the desired thresholds (or when slow page loading is detected)
  • Benchmarking: This is especially critical in order to compare your ecommerce site Web Vitals performance against industry standards and competing stores.

Conclusion

Core Web Vitals are a critical part of website performance, and ignoring them can have a significant impact on the user experience of an ecommerce website.

Ecommerce businesses that want to maximize their sales and revenue need to prioritize website performance, including Core Web Vitals, in order to provide a better user experience, reduce cart abandonment, and improve search engine rankings. By monitoring and optimizing Core Web Vitals, ecommerce businesses can stay ahead of the competition and drive more sales and revenue.

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