Google's Next Big Move: What You Need to Know

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  • Mar 07, 2024

Following the recent launch of Google Consent Mode v2 in early March (you can learn more about it in our previous blog post), Google continues to enhance its suite of tools and metrics. This time, the focus is on website performance. Starting March 12th, Interaction to Next Paint (INP) will officially become a Core Web Vital metric.

This blog post will delve into the specifics of INP, its influence on search rankings, and how you can proactively approach this new metric. By understanding INP and its impact, you can take concrete steps to optimize your website for a positive user experience and potentially enhance your position in Google's search results.

Brief introduction to Core Web Vital

To establish a solid foundation for understanding Interaction to Next Paint (INP), let's briefly delve into the concept of Core Web Vitals. Ever wondered what makes a website truly enjoyable and engaging to visit? The answer lies in Core Web Vitals, a set of metrics developed by Google that measure a website's real-world user experience. These metrics serve as crucial indicators encompassing aspects like loading speed, interactivity, and visual stability. By focusing on optimizing Core Web Vitals, website owners can demonstrably improve user engagement and potentially enhance their website's search ranking.

These metrics focus on three key areas:

  • Loading Speed: Measured by Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), this ensures the main content of your page loads within the first 2.5 seconds, keeping users engaged from the start.
  • Interactivity: Measured by First Input Delay (FID), this ensures your website responds to user interactions like clicks and taps smoothly, with a target FID of less than 100 milliseconds for optimal experience.
  • Visual Stability: Measured by Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS), this ensures minimal unexpected layout shifts that can disorient users. Aiming for a CLS score below 0.1 allows users to navigate your website seamlessly.

An example of Core Web Vitals in action:

Scenario: You're browsing an online clothing store. LCP ensures the product images and descriptions load quickly, keeping you engaged. FID ensures the website responds smoothly when you click on a product to view more details, and CLS prevents the layout from jumping around as images load.

Optimizing Core Web Vitals isn't just about user experience, it's about your website's success. This trio of metrics (loading speed, interactivity, and visual stability) can boost your search ranking, keep users engaged, and ultimately drive conversions.

From FID to INP: Understanding Google's New Core Web Vital Metric

Previously, First Input Delay (FID) held a prominent position as a Core Web Vital metric within Google Search Console. However, on March 12th, it's being replaced by Interaction to Next Paint(INP). This shift signifies Google's evolving approach to measuring website responsiveness and user experience. While FID played a valuable role, INP provides more.

Understanding FID's Limitations:

FID primarily focused on the technical aspect of responsiveness. It measured the delay between a user's initial interaction (like a click) and the browser's ability to start processing it. This processing could involve fetching data, updating the DOM (Document Object Model), or running JavaScript code.

INP: A Broader View of Responsiveness

Interaction to Next Paint (INP) takes a more user-centric approach. It measures the entire user interaction cycle, encompassing both the processing time and the time it takes for the first visual change to appear on the screen in response to the user's action. Imagine you're browsing a webshop and click on a product image. INP measures how long it takes for the first visual change to occur on the screen in response to your click. This could be the image loading, a new product page appearing, or anything visible to the user. In essence, INP prioritizes the user's perceived responsiveness, going beyond the technical processing speed measured by FID. A low INP means users see a quick visual response to their actions, leading to a smoother and more engaging browsing experience.

This transition from FID to INP underscores the importance of delivering a seamless user experience. By focusing on optimizing INP, website owners can ensure users see a swift visual response to their actions. This contributes to a smoother and more engaging experience, potentially improving user satisfaction and website engagement metrics like bounce rate and time on site.

For more information about INP, you can read this blog shared by Google.

Understanding INP Measurement

Measured in milliseconds (ms), INP offers insights into your website's responsiveness:

  • Below 200 ms: Excellent! This indicates a very responsive website that provides a smooth user experience.
  • 200-500 ms: Room for improvement. Users might perceive slight delays in response to their actions.
  • 500 ms and above: Needs significant optimization. This range can lead to a frustrating and sluggish experience for users.

Several factors can influence your INP score, including:

  • Page size and complexity: Larger and more complex pages generally take longer to load and respond.
  • Number of JavaScript and CSS files: The more files a browser needs to load, the longer it might take for the page to become interactive.

A number of online tools, like Google PageSpeed Insights offer free INP measurement services. These tools analyze your website and provide comprehensive reports, including:

  • INP score: Your website's current INP value
  • Recommendations: Specific suggestions for optimizing your website and improving its INP performance.
Assessment of a website by Core Web Vitals

Why INP Matters for Webshop Owners: A User-Centric Approach to Success

For webshop owners, Interaction to Next Paint (INP) holds immense significance beyond just a technical metric. Here's how optimizing INP translates into real benefits for your online store:

  • Improved User Experience: Improving INP means that your customers won't experience frustrating delays when trying to interact with your products or navigate your site. This translates to a smoother shopping experience and a higher chance of them converting (completing a purchase).
  • Increased Sales: Research indicates that a one-second delay in page load time can result in a significant 7% drop in conversions. Faster responsiveness through a lower INP can directly translate to more sales for your webshop.
  • Enhanced Customer Satisfaction: A webshop that feels sluggish and unresponsive can quickly lead to customer frustration and cart abandonment. Optimizing INP ensures a smoother experience, keeping customers engaged and potentially improving brand loyalty.
  • Improved Search Ranking: While INP isn't the sole ranking factor, Google prioritizes websites that offer a good user experience. By optimizing INP alongside other Core Web Vitals, you can potentially improve your webshop's visibility in search results, attracting more potential customers.

Conclusion: Embrace the Shift, Optimize for Your Users

As Google continues to evolve its suite of tools and metrics, embracing the shift from FID to INP is crucial for website owners, particularly those in e-commerce. While FID served its purpose, INP offers a more comprehensive perspective, prioritizing the user experience. By understanding and optimizing INP, you can create a website that feels responsive and engaging, ultimately fostering customer satisfaction, potentially improving search ranking, and driving success for your online business.

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