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Improving Your Insurance Agency Website User Experience with Core Web Vitals

The primary goal of every insurance agency’s website should be to service clients. That is the core element of a website’s user experience.

The good news is that Google offers a blueprint for how to achieve user experience success. Let’s walk through that blueprint together and see how you can improve your website’s user experience.

But first, why is user experience so important to Google? User experience will be a ranking factor in Google’s search algorithm.

To be frank, making user experience a ranking factor for websites was long overdue. The consumer’s experience on a website should be a ranking consideration.

Why? Search results are Google’s products.

If a person has a negative experience on a website that Google ranked highly, that person loses trust in Google. Therefore, Google is inclined to seek out websites and rank them higher if they accomplish two things for consumers.

  1. Provide helpful information.
  2. Provide a positive experience

If your website isn’t performing well, Google is less inclined to suggest it as a resource to users.

This is why providing a great user experience for website visitors will soon be a ranking factor for Google.

To accomplish this fairly, Google needed to establish a way to measure successful user experiences on websites. They’ve found their solution… core web vitals. That’s their blueprint for how to provide a fantastic user experience on your agency’s website.

Core Web Vitals

Core Web Vitals are a set of real-world, user-centered metrics that measure key aspects of the user experience.

The three main metrics for page experience are:

  1. Largest Contentful Paint (LCP):This metric measures the load speed of your page’s main content. Your page should load within 2.5 seconds of when it first started loading.
  2. First Input Delay (FID):This measures the responsiveness and quantifies the experience of interacting with the page. To provide a good user experience, pages should have an FID of less than 100 milliseconds.
  3. Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS):Measures the visual stability of the page.

Let’s break down each of the three most important core web vitals of user experience and how your agency can use this information to be ready for Google’s new ranking factor.

Core Web Vital #1: Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)

This word probably sounds like gibberish.

Upon closer examination, it’s really a measurement of web page load speed. This metric simply reports to the search engine the load time of the largest image or block of text within the first viewport of the visitor.

Viewport is a fancy word for the area of the screen that is currently being viewed. That viewport can change based on screen size, device, etc.

In essence, this metric measures how fast the largest content loads on your website.

So, how fast is fast enough?

Largest contentful paint has three tiers with respect to load time.

  1. Good LCP Time:0 – 2.5 seconds
  2. LCP Time Needs Improvement:2.6 – 4.0 seconds
  3. Poor LCP Time:4.1 – infinity seconds

Why does your insurance agency website need a good LCP load time? Fast load times influence website visitors to trust your website.

If the content of your website loads slowly, visitors often either get impatient or assume something is wrong with your website. Regardless, they often are inclined to search elsewhere for the information or services they need.

Core Web Vital #2: First Input Delay (FID)

Nobody likes delays.

On websites, interaction delays can provide a poor user experience. Here’s an example:

Let’s say a website visitor clicks on a link to learn more about a particular coverage on your website. After clicking, nothing happens. A second or two later, the page begins to load. This lag in load time after clicking a link or button is called First Input Delay (FID).

A delay is not a big deal when it happens once. Often visitors might attribute this to poor service or slow internet connection. However, consistently slow websites turn off visitors because they will begin to lose trust in their ability to interact with your site.  

Now, if you thought the optimal LCP load times were fast, take a look at the first input delay rendering times.

  1. Good FID Time:0 – 100 milliseconds
  2. FID Time Needs Improvement:101 milliseconds – 300 milliseconds
  3. Poor FID Time:301 milliseconds – infinity

Now, an important misconception about FID load time is that it measures the time it takes for the event – or the clicked link – to load. That is incorrect. This metric only measures the time it takes after the click for the event or page to begin loading.

Core Web Vital #3: Cumulative Layout Shift

In my opinion, from a user perspective, this element of core web vitals represents the most annoying misstep that websites make.

Yes, I commonly run into slow websites while browsing the internet. However, it is uncommon for me to visit a website and have a page that takes longer than a few seconds to load. If I do, I assume my internet is weak, and often that is the case.

Before we begin dive too deep into what cumulative layout shift is, let’s look at a real-world example of layout shift.

Every time I publish a blog post, I follow a simple four-step process to add the image at the top.

  1. Source the image I would like to use for my blog.
  2. Download it to my local computer.
  3. Upload the image into the image gallery.
  4. Select it from the image gallery and place it in my blog post.

Upon initially opening the gallery to select my image, the page layout will shift. If I click too early, before the layout shifts, I can select the wrong image by mistake. I will have to delete the image selected and redo the process. This can be a particularly pesky experience on a mobile device.

Hence, the name layout shift. Every time an established, visible element on a page – like an image or a button – shifts to a new visible location within the user’s screen, this is reported to Google. These cumulative reports sent to Google equal your Layout Shift Score. 

Cumulative Layout Shift measures the sum total of all individual website layout shift scores for every unexpected layout shift that occurs during the entire lifespan of the page.

 

Obtaining Your Core Web Vital Score 

Don’t worry. You won’t need to measure these scores on your own. The developers at Google thought ahead and provided a free tool to measure your core web vitals.

This tool will provide you with an assessment of all the core web vitals on your website. However, if you have any poor scores, addressing them will be your responsibility.

Improving a Low Core Web Vital Score

Addressing poor core web vital scores is, unfortunately, a technical process.

Often, issues like these can be rooted in your website’s code. For example, an oversized image or video file, or missing CSS tags. If you or your website visitors are experiencing any of these issues, we recommend working with your website consultant to help you resolve low core web vital scores. They will know how to help you.

The good news is Google understands that fixing issues like these take time. This is why they have released the ranking factors for user experience early and even postponed the update due to COVID-19.

However, now is the time to prepare for this upcoming release. User experience has never been more important, and if done properly, can be an important differentiator for your website.

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