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Top 17 Core Web Vitals Tips And Tricks Nobody Will Ever Tell You!
by Jeff Trumble on
I see so much bad information being posted on social media out there about this still mysterious topic, thought it was about time that I pass on some of my knowledge with Core Web Vitals tips and tricks to help you pass vitals on your own website.
Note: Everything I write in this post could be 100% wrong, because truth is nobody really knows how Core Web Vitals work — (that includes Google) most of the time as the rules seem to be being made up on the spot or always changing since it was first announced.
I can remember back in May 2021, Philip Walton, John Mueller, Annie Sullivan, and Elizabeth Sweeny doing a live broadcast about Core Web Vitals and there was confusion amongst the group. Core Web Vitals was brand new, raw and exciting for everyone!
Before Core Web Vitals – Things Were Less Complicated
There was a time not so long ago, when websites were allowed to roam free around the internet and not concern themselves with such nuisances as experience and speed. That all changed literally overnight and now website owners had to worry about this new Core Web Vitals thing.
Bloggers, myself included, would travel over to places like ThemeForest and buy a premium theme that looked great out the door, but secretly held a bevy of bloated plugins and poorly-written code, now actively being exposed on discussion boards as performance was starting to be being talked about for the first time.
Under increasing pressure as Core Web Vitals was being talked about as the next big SEO ranking factor, every theme, plugin, page builder and even hosting companies were being bombarded with new questions about speed and performance and how it impacted their Core Web Vitals.
Every single company out there was outright scrambling to improve their own performance or else start losing customers. Thanks to Core Web Vitals, things changed forever for website publishers around the world as the fear of not passing this new SEO test would destroy their website rankings.
The Journey: How I Personally Stumbled Into Core Web Vitals
Much like everyone else, I had a couple of hobby blogs I was actively maintaining and kept seeing references on how to improve website speed. I can’t remember the chronology exactly, but this all started when people were testing their websites on Pingdom and GTmetrix for ‘loading time’ and bragging about how fast their websites were.
Although there were free caching plugins around, this was the first time that premium caching plugins such as WP-Rocket, Swift Performance and eventually FlyingPress started really exploding in growth – People were now willing to pay money to make their websites faster and quickly becoming the norm.
It was a wonderful time of discovery, everyone were trying new things and more than happy to share their results..
“I compressed my website images with ShortPixel and now my website loads in 1.1 seconds!”
Everyone in the group would immediately scramble and try ShortPixel too.
There was lots of herd mentality going on, experimenting with every new plugin out there and deep competition with other members in these Facebook groups to post faster loading times.
That’s how I first remember it from my own experience, at least when I first entered the fray and casual website owners were also finding their way into website optimization.
WTF? The Emergence Of Google PageSpeed Insights (PSI)
Everything was a total party, everyone was having fun.
Again. I can’t remember the exact timeline, but Google was now talking about Core Web Vitals more and their own tool PageSpeed Insights (PSI).
I can’t recall if I was using PSI that much at the time, everyone was still testing their sites with Pingdom and GTmetrix, it was the new PSI mobile test that absolutely ruined the party for everyone.
People were getting generally good desktop scores and quite proud of it, now they were running their websites through PageSpeed Insights and their mobile scores were in the deep red.
GTmetrix also launched their newest update to better include Core Web Vitals and not just a website speed testing tool.
There was hate, folks were furious – Optimizing your website now became much more challenging.
Becoming A Facebook Group Moderator And Meeting Ben (Rocket)
I was hooked, curious student of all things optimization and total website speed freak. I watched YouTube videos if available, I religiously researched every speed comparison website out there and taking notes the whole time.
My hobby sites now were active science labs, experiments and test results that I shared with people, I was eventually asked to become a moderator of WP Speed Matters and that made for a very interesting experience.
I got a ‘behind-the-scenes’ view of what really happens on Facebook groups. The good, the bad.. and the internet ugly..
There were spammers, there were plenty of DM personal and nasty attacks too – but the other 90% of people were there to genuinely help others.
Over that time, I got to participate and engage in lively conversations with hundreds, if not thousands of people looking to improve their Core Web Vitals.
It was also the first time that I met Ben Gabler (CEO and Founder of Rocket)… where I now work obviously as I write this post.
Late Friday night while I was likely banning members from Speed Matters, I got a DM from Ben talking about website speed optimization.
For the record, I had already drank a ‘few beers’ sitting around the front of my computer screen when we connected, Ben and I argued about different hosting companies, Cloudflare APO (which I was using for my hobby site), and just about everything else related to website performance.
Starting My Own Core Web Vitals Agency
Although I stayed on as the moderator for a few months at WP Speed Matters, I also started building my own Core Web Vitals agency with so much interest on the subject and everyone needing help to optimize their websites.
I recruited a team of technical optimizers behind me to help with the workload, we averaged a 98/98+ PSI score on EVERY website we worked on…
… and we’re finally getting closer now to the 17 Core Web Vitals Tips and Tricks I promised you….
It was then that I realized that I knew nothing about Core Web Vitals as I started digging into client sites, but more so the difference between lab and field data scores. I had to learn it all over again…
The more I increased my prices, the more clients I got. People were willing to pay extra to have their sites optimized properly. We did that, but also made mandatory Zoom calls a part of the process to educate my clients on how Core Web Vitals worked.
I also was sending about 30% of my clients to Ben and Rocket (as an affiliate) because it’s faster than anything else, and it made my job of optimizing client sites way easier. I can’t tell you how sh*tty things are when you’re trying to fix a customers Core Web Vitals when their website hosting is crap.
Due to exhaustion of managing customers around the world 24/7 and my health suffering for it, I retired from my agency as it just wasn’t fun anymore for me. I dreaded everything to do with Core Web Vitals, I was totally burned out.
I always kept in close contact with Ben, talking every couple of weeks until I brought up the opportunity to work with him and his team. As the Director of Marketing for Rocket.net, I couldn’t be happier today.
Core Web Vitals Tip #1 – Nothing Beats Fast WordPress Hosting
Seen it hundreds of times before, you can’t fix slow hosting. Invest in a few dollars in good WordPress hosting and it makes optimizing Core Web Vitals way easier. I won’t attack companies by name, but many of the best known hosting companies out there are dreadfully slow. You always get what you pay for.
Core Web Vitals Tip #2 – Getting 100/100 On Your PSI Tests Means NOTHING
I’m putting this one near the top because it’s one of the biggest problems since day one with Core Web Vitals when people obsess about getting 100/100 on their desktop and mobile PSI scores. Remember these are lab data (simulated tests), there is a better than good chance that your website will actually fail vitals when real users are engaging with your website.
Core Web Vitals Tip #3 – Always Concentrate On The Big 3 – LCP, FID And CLS
I see this all the time from newbies trying to eliminate every little thing on their sites and chasing that 100/100 score. You attack each LCP, FID and CLS bucket individually and you pass Core Web Vitals, stop sweating the little stuff and spend that same time building your business.
Core Web Vitals Tip #4 – Why do I See Big Websites Score In The 60’s And Pass Vitals?
Ever run a big site through PageSpeed Insights (PSI) and see them score in the 60’s or even lower? You are looking at lab data again, check out their Origin Summary and you’ll find many of them in reality passing Core Web Vitals on desktop and mobile. Remember from my tip above that 100/100 scores means nothing, lab data means nothing, they’ve passed the 75th percentile on LCP, FID and CLS with real-user engagement on their site.
Core Web Vitals Tip #5 – You’ve Likely Ignored Time To First Byte (TTFB) – Biggest Mistake Ever
If you want to know what makes Rocket the fastest WordPress hosting in the world, you don’t need to look further than TTFB – it refers to the time between the browser requesting a page and when it receives the first byte of information from the server (Mozilla). That’s the html root document being fetched and what full-page caching does via the Cloudflare Enterprise global CDN. You can’t even start to worry about things like LCP if your TTFB is high. It should be less than 100ms globally.
Try your site out right now on SpeedVitals, give it a couple of runs to warm up your cache and CDN. Tell me your TTFB averages less than 100ms. Hint, it’s doesn’t…
Core Web Vitals Tip #6 – Don’t Test Your Main Page Only, Every Page On Your Website Counts Too
Another common mistake I see all the time is that people only test the main page of their website for Core Web Vitals. Every single page on your website counts and each must be tested individually to pass vitals (main, service, product, categories, posts). Remember you can track this in Google Search Console.
Core Web Vitals Tip #7 – Start Optimizing Pages With The Most Website Traffic
Not only should you be testing all of your pages (not just your main page), you need to start with the pages on your website that receive the most traffic because that’s where all the real users are hitting your site and count as the biggest percentage of total traffic against your field data results
Core Web Vitals Tip #8 – Google Search Console (GSC) Is Really The Only Tool That Matters When It Comes Checking Your Core Web Vitals Results
It’s not GTmetrix, it’s not PSI — Definitely use different tools to help monitor your Core Web Vitals, but it’s what ultimately shows up in Google Search Console that tells you what pages that need to be addressed and the difference between Poor, Needs Improvement, and Good.
Core Web Vitals Tip #9 – If Google Has A Whole Area Devoted To Experience (Vitals), In GSC — Then Core Web Vitals Are Here To Stay.
For all the SEO types out there that say Core Web Vitals are no big deal, know when Google devotes a dedicated tab in GSC for it that it’s not going anywhere. Ignore optimizing your website, then do so at your own peril. Vitals might not be the biggest ranking SEO factor, but it’s there and will only become more important in the future.
Core Web Vitals Tip #10 – Just Because You Pass Vitals Now Doesn’t Mean You’ll Pass Next Month
You finally wait 28 days after much work to optimize your site to ultimately pass Core Web Vitals in GSC, don’t be surprised if that changes 28 days later. It’s your audience, where they come from, the different devices they use and many other factors that make real-user engagement vary all the time. Continue to monitor for problems areas and keep attacking LCP, FID and CLS on those pages impacted.
Core Web Vitals Tip #11 – It’s Not Just Mobile That Counts For Vitals, It Does For Desktop Views Now As Well
It was always assumed that Core Web Vitals was only for people visiting your site on mobile devices because that’s what Google told everyone. It was later announced that people that visit your website on a desktop device will now also count for Core Web Vitals – make sure to optimize your website for all devices (phones, tablets and desktop), and focus on devices (by resolution) that make up the largest percentage of your traffic.
Core Web Vitals Tip #12 – Caching Plugins Can Do More Harm Than Good
Caching plugins were never designed to fully optimize complex websites, they all fell under tremendous pressure to help everyone see 100/100 on their PSI scores. Remember 100/100 doesn’t mean anything, focus on your LCP, FID and CLS and monitor GSS for real users engaging with your site. Resist the urge to preload everything and over-optimization will often hurt your site more than it helps.
Core Web Vitals Tip #13 – Delaying Ads Is Lazy/Bad Optimization
For anyone that has ads running on their sites, they often fall in the trap of delaying ads to improve their Core Web Vitals scores. Remember that’s a simulated (lab data) visit, real people are going to see those ads. You do need to make sure there is enough room for the ads to display properly on your site to avoid CLS, but ads are rarely the culprit when it comes down to things like LCP and FID. Not all ad networks are created equally, there are times when you need to take the appropriate measures to get the best experience for your users and maximize your revenue. The big media sites out there certainly don’t delay ads and still pass Core Web Vitals, so can you.
Core Web Vitals Tip #14 – It’s Not Just About Big Images, Start Worrying About Fonts Too!
I see people that obsess about their images and shrinking them down to pass LCP, but they totally forget that fonts on their sites can be just as important. Forget about Google fonts, use system-safe fonts that are already loaded on your device. I see people preloading a ton of fonts (weight, bold etc.) and slow down your FCP – they all have to load before the rest of the page does. I could write a whole post about this, but simplify the fonts used on your website and you’ll see a huge improvement in your Core Web Vitals scores.
Core Web Vitals Tip #15 – Visitors Aren’t Impressed By All The Bells And Whistles, Focus On A Great User Experience
Website owners think that things like sliders and things bouncing around the screen will impress their visitors, they’re actually the first experiences that leads to a fast abandon. Produce quality content that engages your audience, give them reasons to stick around on your site longer. A great user experience is what really scores points with people, it’s also the same considerations that help with your Core Web Vitals scores too.
Core Web Vitals Tip #16 – Consider Using A Real-User Monitoring (RUM) Service To Find Tricky Issues
Not all Core Web Vitals issues are easy to spot, secondary CLS and other challenges that occur on individual pages are often hard to spot even in Google Search Console. There are many inexpensive RUM-Monitoring services you can use to measure how each and every real user is engaging with your site.
Core Web Vitals Tip #17 – Did You Know That Rocket.net Helps Optimize Your Site For Core Web Vitals?
We can’t promise miracles all the time depending on your site, but the Rocket team has extensive experience optimizing your site for Core Web Vitals and can help get you where you need to be. Not every hosting company out there will do that for you.
Our team of experts is standing by. Most website owners have switched hosting providers multiple times over the history of their site. We’re confident that you won’t look back once you make the switch to Rocket.net.
The best customer support 24/7, super fast speed, ease-of-use, and access to top tools and industry-leading resources should always come standard. We’re revolutionizing the way your WordPress site gets served up to the world, and we look forward to partnering with you in growing your business.