Core Web Vitals (CWV): What Marketers Need to Know in 2024

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Ralph Otto Director of Product
DevelopmentDigital Marketing
Core Web Vitals in 2024 (animation)

Since the release and incorporation of Core Web Vitals (CWV) into Google search rank algorithms, website operators and marketers have been battling to optimize their metrics. This may be a moving target, as scores can vary depending on when and how they are collected. Since we have executed a number of optimization projects, we wanted to share our point of view on these controversial metrics.

What are Core Web Vitals (CWV)?

Google Core Web Vitals are a set of standardized metrics developed by Google to help website owners, developers, and SEO professionals understand how users experience a web page in terms of loading performance, interactivity, and visual stability. These metrics are part of Google’s broader initiative to enhance the user experience on the web by providing unified guidance for quality signals essential for delivering great user experiences.

Core Web Vitals include the following metrics:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) measures loading performance.
  • First Input Delay (FID) measures interactivity.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) assesses the visual stability of a page.
  • Interaction to Next Paint (INP) measures interactivity on web pages. Google will replace FID with INP as of March 12, 2024, aiming to provide a more comprehensive metric.

Measuring Core Web Vitals can be accomplished through various tools and platforms provided by Google, including the Chrome User Experience Report, PageSpeed Insights, and Lighthouse. These tools collect real-world usage data, sometimes called field data and lab data, to give website owners and developers insights into how their pages perform from the perspective of actual users under various conditions.

The Core Web Vitals report in Google’s Search Console offers a detailed overview of how pages perform based on these metrics, highlighting areas of improvement to meet the recommended thresholds. By prioritizing these metrics, marketers can identify and rectify issues that hinder the user experience, leading to better performance in Google’s search results and a more satisfactory user experience overall.

Why is CWV important?

Google Core Web Vitals are fundamental to understanding and improving the user experience offered by a website. Their role in Google’s ranking algorithm highlights the importance of fast, responsive, and stable web pages in achieving search engine optimization success. Moreover, superior CWV scores can differentiate a website in a competitive digital environment, providing a crucial advantage in attracting and retaining users. As such, marketers and developers are encouraged to regularly assess and optimize their Core Web Vitals, aligning their efforts with best practices to enhance user satisfaction and achieve better search engine rankings.

Indicator of User Experience

Google Core Web Vitals (CWV) are critical to a website’s user experience. These metrics quantify aspects of a webpage’s performance that directly impact how users interact with and perceive the site. The three key metrics—Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID), and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)—collectively assess loading times, interactivity, and visual stability. A poor score in these areas signals potential issues that could detract from the user experience. For instance, long loading times can frustrate users, leading to higher bounce rates. At the same time, unexpected layout shifts can confuse or result in accidental clicks. Addressing these issues enhances user satisfaction and increases engagement and conversions.

Influence on Google’s Ranking Algorithm

Core Web Vitals are integral to Google’s ranking algorithm. Google aims to provide its users with search results that meet their informational needs and offer a positive browsing experience. Websites that load quickly, respond promptly to user interactions, and maintain visual stability throughout the user’s visit offer superior user experiences. Consequently, Google considers CWV scores when determining a website’s position in search results. This emphasis on speed and usability underscores the importance of optimizing Core Web Vitals for website owners and developers aiming to improve their search engine visibility and attract more organic traffic.

Competitive Advantage

In the competitive landscape of search engine rankings, Core Web Vitals can be a deciding factor that positions one URL ahead of another. Google can differentiate websites with similar content quality and relevance based on their CWV scores. A site that loads faster, offers smoother interactions, and maintains a stable layout is likely to be favored by Google’s algorithm, granting it a higher ranking over competitors with poorer performance metrics. This advantage becomes particularly valuable in sectors where even minor differences in search engine rankings can significantly impact website traffic and business outcomes. By prioritizing the optimization of Core Web Vitals, businesses can gain a competitive edge, ensuring their websites are more appealing to users and more visible in search results.

What’s new for CWV in 2024?

Most metrics used for ranking stay mostly the same. Google says, “Stable Core Web Vitals metrics won’t change more than once per year.” LCP, CLS, FID, and INP are considered stable metrics. The point is that as long as you know what’s coming, you can plan on CWV being a reliable measurement used as a ranking factor.

So what is changing? Last year, in May 2023, Interaction till Next Paint (INP) was introduced as a replacement for First Input Delay (FID). On March 12, 2024, INP launched. FID will be entirely removed by September 2024, as it has been problematic for many websites. This evolution underscores Google’s commitment to continually refining the metrics to quantify user experience accurately.

You can read about the changes coming in the Google blog and the latest developments for the Chrome browser.

Need professional help?

If you’d like a free Core Web Vitals review, shoot us a note and we’ll set up an appointment to discuss your scores!

How vital are CWV to SEO?

Our clients care most about CWV’s effect on Search Engine Optimization (SEO). CWV has emerged as a pivotal metric that reflects the quality of a website’s user experience and significantly influences its search engine rankings. Understanding and optimizing these vitals are essential for any SEO strategy to enhance site visibility and user engagement.

When planning SEO efforts, it’s crucial to prioritize tasks that yield the most significant impact on your site’s performance and user experience. Core Web Vitals are invaluable, serving as a compass to guide optimization strategies. They provide a precise, quantifiable measure of the facets of the user experience that Google deems necessary. High scores in these metrics signal a superior user experience, contributing positively to a site’s search ranking potential.

Understanding Mobile vs Desktop Scores

Core Web Vitals are integrated into Google’s ranking algorithms for mobile SEO. This integration reflects Google’s commitment to prioritizing the user experience on mobile devices, where limitations such as smaller screens and potentially slower internet connections can significantly impact content consumption. Websites that excel in CWV metrics—ensuring fast load times, responsive interaction, and visual stability—are more likely to rank higher in mobile search results. This direct relationship underscores web admins’ need to optimize their sites with mobile users in mind, focusing on the technical and user experience aspects that contribute to superior CWV scores.

Google does not explicitly define the direct impact of CWV on desktop SEO, but the importance of delivering a quality user experience remains critical. Often benefiting from more stable internet connections and more powerful hardware, Desktop users still demand quick, efficient, and visually stable web interactions. Websites that perform well in terms of CWV on desktop can see indirect SEO benefits such as reduced bounce rates, increased time on site, and higher engagement levels. While not directly tied to CWV metrics, these factors contribute to a site’s overall SEO health and can influence its visibility in desktop search results.

While the application of Core Web Vitals as a ranking factor differs between mobile and desktop searches, the underlying principle of optimizing for a superior user experience is universal. By addressing CWV across both platforms, websites can enhance their SEO performance, catering to the evolving expectations of users and search engines alike.

The Role of Content

Content remains the cornerstone of SEO, driving traffic and engagement through valuable, relevant, high-quality information. However, poor website performance can overshadow even the best content. A low CWV score indicates issues such as slow page load times, delayed responsiveness to user inputs, or frequent unexpected layout shifts, all of which can frustrate users and detract from the content’s value. Google’s algorithm recognizes these deficiencies, potentially penalizing sites by lowering search rankings. This mechanism underscores Google’s commitment to ensuring that the highest-ranking sites offer excellent content and deliver a seamless and engaging user experience.

Are CWV the best metric for your website?

The short answer: not always. While we see Google’s Core Web Vitals as a great way to help website operators improve their websites, implementation challenges sometimes render these metrics less helpful or problematic in specific contexts. Here are some of the top issues.

Discrepancies Between Lab and Field Data

One of the significant challenges in implementing CWV metrics is the discrepancy between lab data and field (real user) data. Lab data collected in a controlled environment (by Google servers in this case) often fails to capture the diversity of real-world conditions, including device capabilities, network conditions, and user interactions. This discrepancy can lead to situations where a website might perform well in lab tests but poorly in field data or vice versa, complicating efforts to optimize web performance based on these metrics.

One-Size-Fits-All Approach

The CWV metrics apply universally across all types of websites, from simple blogs to complex e-commerce platforms. This one-size-fits-all approach can be limiting, as different site types have inherently different user interaction patterns, content structures, and performance optimization needs. For instance, a dynamic application might have a higher CLS due to its interactive nature than a static website, potentially penalizing it unfairly under the current CWV assessment criteria.

Potential for Misleading Interpretations

The aggregation and simplification of performance into three core metrics can sometimes lead to misleading interpretations. For example, focusing solely on improving these metrics might lead developers to make changes that technically improve scores but do not significantly enhance the user experience. Conversely, valuable features that slightly degrade CWV scores might be discarded, even if they substantially benefit user engagement or satisfaction.

Impact on Innovation and Content Richness

There’s a concern that the emphasis on CWV metrics could stifle innovation and discourage the development of rich, engaging content. In efforts to meet CWV standards, web developers might limit the use of interactive elements, multimedia content, and innovative features that could initially impact these metrics negatively, even though they might enhance the overall user experience.

Difficulty in Achieving Universal Compliance

Given the diversity of web technologies, frameworks, and content management systems, achieving universal compliance with CWV standards can take substantial time and effort. Some platforms need help to meet these metrics out of the box, placing them at a potential disadvantage. This situation can be particularly troubling for small or medium-sized businesses or those with limited resources for web optimization.

How vital are CWV to achieving marketing results?

Achieving marketing objectives hinges on effectively guiding users through a website, leading them toward desired actions such as purchasing, signing up for a newsletter, or filling out a contact form. This journey is inherently complex and influenced by many factors, including content quality, site navigation, and overall user experience. In this intricate ecosystem, Google’s Core Web Vitals (CWV) emerge as critical indicators of a website’s health and user-friendliness, directly impacting the ease with which marketers can guide users toward conversion goals.

Good CWV Scores and Conversions

It’s important to clarify that excellent scores in Core Web Vitals—measuring loading performance (LCP), interactivity (FID), and visual stability (CLS)—are not direct predictors of higher conversion rates. A site might excel in these metrics, showcasing swift load times, responsive interaction, and a stable layout, yet still struggle to convert visitors into customers or subscribers. The reasons vary, ranging from misaligned content strategies to unclear calls to action. However, high CWV scores set the stage for a positive user experience, creating a conducive environment for marketing strategies to flourish.

Poor CWV Scores and Conversions

While stellar CWV scores alone do not guarantee conversions, poor scores in these metrics can significantly hinder a website’s conversion potential. Slow loading times, delayed responsiveness to user inputs, and frequent layout shifts can frustrate users, undermining their trust and patience. Such adverse experiences will likely increase bounce rates, as users may quickly abandon the site for a more seamless experience elsewhere. Consequently, regardless of the strength of the marketing message or the quality of the offerings, a poor CWV score diminishes the likelihood of converting visitors into engaged customers or leads.


Understanding Core Web Vitals and their relative importance in the marketing world is critical when making decisions about where to invest. Like many marketing efforts, improving these metrics has diminishing returns as you approach a perfect state. Balancing your CWV efforts with other tactics produces the best results. We’ll discuss a practical approach in another article in this series.

Our teams are well-versed in the challenges and solutions that commonly prevent high CWV scores. You can message us via our contact form, email [email protected], or call (804) 433-3582. We’re happy to help you make the right decision for your team.