You may have heard of “core web vitals,” but most busy lawyers don’t have time to do a deep dive into the finer points of technology and website construction. So here’s a primer on Core Web Vitals for law firms that we hope provides an executive summary.
Core Web Vitals are related to back-end programming and design – the real nitty-gritty of website construction. Google says Core Web Vitals are really important, so disregard at your own peril.
What are Core Web Vitals, anyway? Core Web Vitals for lawyers relate to Google search results and user experience (UX). Every firm wants their online content to rank high on Google SERPs pages, so any advantage you can create benefits your bottom line. In ranking content, Google assesses a website’s impact on visitors and their ease of use. The more user-friendly and seamless the content, the better. There are three essential metrics of UX that Google says are important. These include:
Google dubbed these metrics its “Core Web Vitals.” Every law firm should focus on these three elements if they want their website to outperform the competition.
The following information might sound a bit techy, but we’ve simplified it to highlight the main points.
Google’s fancy name for evaluating loading speed is “Largest Contentful Paint” rating (LCP). Whew, that’s a mouthful! LCP places a particular emphasis on “perceived” load speed of the “main” content on each page. Your website’s LCP score is determined by how fast the main text is visible to readers. Nobody wants to sit and wait for a web page to load – that’s the surest way to cause a user to click the “back” button and leave your site.
LCP is scored on the page level (rather than the website as a whole), and LCP varies depending on the content type. For example:
Google’s fancy name for a page’s visual stability is “Cumulative Layout Shift” rating (CLS). Basically, the CLS Core Web Vital assesses whether the layout of your page shifts and shimmies when looking at it or it stays in place and is stable. You may have seen webpages that are visually instable and hop around, especially when viewing on a mobile device.
There are many factors that can cause visual instability, including different formatting for mobile users. But whatever the cause, it needs to be corrected if you want to boost your CLS score. Unexpected layout shifts detract from user experience, and Google will penalize your site for it.
CLS quantifies the combined total of individual layout shifts over the lifespan of a web page by measuring the rendering time of elements from one frame to the next when a page loads. A low CLS score indicates a stable page, while a high CLS score indicates an unstable – and, therefore, undesirable — page.
Google says a good CLS is less than 0.1 seconds. Pages that measure between 0.1 and 0.25 seconds need improvement, and those that measure above 0.25 are considered poor and significantly detract from your CLS score.
Google’s fancy name for evaluating interactivity is the “First Input Delay” (FID) metric. This Core Web Vital relates to the ease with which a website visitor can engage with a page using an interface such as a mouse or keyboard. FID measures the time between a user command (usually in the form of a click or a keystroke) and the execution of that command.
As far as Google is concerned, your website pages must achieve an FID score of less than 100 milliseconds. A score of more than 300 milliseconds wreaks havoc on your UX and SEO performance. We’ve all clicked on a button or keyed a stroke only to have nothing happen. It’s frustrating.
You can improve your FID by limiting the negative impact of third-party code such as added scripts for digital analytics or A/B testing. Law firm websites can also boost their FID scores by breaking up long Java script tasks, compressing CSS files, and using “lazy loading” for less urgent content.
The benefits of Core Web Vitals for law firms are many. The better your scores, the happier your website visitor. Great website performance results in:
Positions 1 through 3 on a Google search results page get, by far, the highest traffic and click through rates (CTR), meaning lots more people wind up on your website. Leveraging Google’s algorithm to drive traffic by evaluating and improving your Core Web Vitals is essential.
By focusing on SEO — creating content and website protocols that are designed with top search engine algorithms in mind — you can maximize search engine performance and outpace your competitors. Law firms that do not apply industry best practices will inevitably receive lower ranking scores than those that do.
Does all of this feel a bit overwhelming? We understand. Your expertise lies in legal research, analysis, legal writing, negotiation, and litigation – not in the granular aspects of technology and search optimization. That’s where Gladiator Law Marketing can help. Our professional team has decades of experience in designing, programming, optimizing, and creating stellar content for legal websites. Our satisfied clients can attest to this, as can our many awards for law firm website design. We’d welcome the chance to have a conversation with you about your law firm marketing needs. Call us for a free consultation at 888-683-3212.