Demystifying Google’s Core Web Vitals – Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)

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As we draw closer to May, and the launch date of Google’s Page Experience algorithm update we’re thrilled to introduce our latest series ‘SEO: Demystifying Google’s Core Web Vitals’. In this three part series we’ll be dissecting each of the core web vital metrics in an easy and practical manner to unpack the technical jargon, and prepare you for what lies ahead. This week we’ll be discussing Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – the measurement of loading performance.

Despite Google shrouding the exact launch date in mystery, the new Page Experience algorithm update should eventually roll into action across the search engine in May. First introduced in spring last year, Google’s update is forcing brands to take Page Experience seriously and ensure they offer users a good mobile experience. Ultimately, Google wants a faster and better web, and will be introducing Core Web Vitals into the search algorithm to achieve this – much in the same way that they rolled out the mobile-friendly update last year. 

What is Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)?

LCP is the one of three Core Web Vitals metrics that Google introduced last year, alongside First Input Delay (FID) and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). Core Web Vitals signals are aimed at helping brands measure the “experience” of interacting with a website, helping to improve areas that may be frustrating the user – specifically, the loading of the site (speed), interactivity (can the site be used) and the visual stability (do things jump around and move). 

LCP is the speed element of the three metrics and Google defines it as ‘the render time of the largest image or text block visible within the viewport (screen)’.

What this means simply, is how quick does the page load the content. LCP is the measure of how long it takes for the main content of the page to be fully downloaded, and ready to be used. It’s important to note that this doesn’t mean the site is fully loaded, LCP measurement finishes when the largest content element becomes visible to the user.

There are a number of elements that can qualify as the LCP; such as images, video or a block of text. LCP only includes viewable elements, and anything below the fold or outside of the viewable area doesn’t impact the LCP score.

Why is LCP Important for SEO?

Google’s decision to include Core Web Vitals as part of its algorithm from May means that, if your site suffers from a poor LCP score, you’ll likely see a negative impact on your Google search ranking performance as a result. Especially if your competitors are improving their scores prior to the update.

There are a number of other metrics that exist that can be used to measure page speed, and in the past Google has recommended these – First Meaningful Paint (FMP) and Speed Index (SI). These can however be fairly complex and difficult to measure, whereas LCP is a user centric measurement specifically designed by Google. Additionally, the older metrics used to measure page speeds aren’t good indicators of a user centric experience – not necessarily corresponding to what the user was seeing on screen – whereas a fast LCP will reassure the user that the page is useful.

With LCP, Google is going for a simpler approach and, based on their research in conjunction with W3C Performance Working Group, they’ve determined that a more accurate method of measuring when the main content of a page is loaded is to identify when the largest element was rendered.

How do you measure LCP

Largest Contentful Paint has a simple scoring criteria of Good, Needs Improvement, and Poor. Anything under 2.5 seconds is good, while anything over 4 seconds is poor.

There are two ways in which LCP can be measured:

  1. In the lab using tools to simulate a page load in a consistent way
  2. In the field using real users loading and interacting with the page 

There are a number of different tools that you can use to measure LCP both in the Lab and in the Field and Google recommends using a combination of both data types when optimising LCP.

The Field tools you can use are:

  • PageSpeed Insights
  • Search Console (Core Web Vitals report)
  • Chrome User Experience Report (Requires a Google account and a Google Cloud Project)
  • web-vitals JavaScript library

The Lab tools you can use are:

  • Chrome DevTools
  • Lighthouse
  • WebPageTest

How to Improve your LCP

Improving the LCP of your site can be a complex task as the LCP element will likely differ between pages and by device. However there are some common causes of a poor LCP:

  1. Slow server
  2. Resource load times
  3. Client-side rendering
  4. Render-blocking JavaScript and CSS

Google recommends before anything else improving a slow server response time. This one factor will impact every single page-load metric, as a faster server means the browser will receive the content more quickly from the server.

For more information on what the algorithm update will look like, have a read of our previous article Google’s New Search Criteria to familiarize yourself with Page Experience Signals, and what the update will mean for the marketing industry. 

This blog was originally published on Incubeta.

Seamless Search; Your Questions Answered

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Last week we were thrilled to host our second virtual event of 2021 – Seamless Search; Ask Us Anything. Incubeta’s Senior Commercial Manager, Sophie Dixon was joined by our Director of Strategy Damien Bennett, to discuss our new proprietary technology – expanding on the methods by which brands can use Seamless Search to achieve the best results possible for their business.

Since our launch event in September, Seamless Search has been recognised as  “Best Martech Solution” at the Wires, and “Best SEM Solution” at the Martech Breakthrough awards. And we’re grateful for the recognition of the results that Seamless Search drives.

Our ‘Ask Us Anything’ session took a deep-dive into Seamless Search itself, answering a range of questions from the audience, to provide more of an understanding of Seamless Search’s capabilities, and how it can solve key business challenges. 

The Origins of Seamless Search

The concept of Seamless Search is very much an idea that’s always been in the background. For many years we’ve had clients asking how incremental their paid search activity is – particularly focusing on the true incremental value of their search activity once you remove the cannibalization of their organic coverage performance. While the market was somewhat saturated with tests trying to assess this impact, none of the tests were optimal. Most weren’t comprehensive – running on a broad range of keywords, with many keywords within these sets producing remarkably different behaviours, which ultimately impacted the accuracy of the results. We realised that, using advancements in machine learning, we could produce a comprehensive and confident answer to whether or not you should pay to appear for keywords that you already hold a high organic position for. 

Initially Seamless Search started as a project to develop and run an advanced and accurate incrementality test, however, what it ended up becoming was much more comprehensive. As we started building out the test methodology, we considered the benefits of automation – making the insights derived from the test actionable through bid adjustments based on the incrementality of the two channels. 

Seamless & Search Ads 360

It’s important to stress that Seamless Search is an extension of SA360, not a replacement. Platforms such as SA360 are there to manage the scale of paid search activity, whereas Seamless Search is there for specific keywords that have a question mark around the incremental value of paying for them. Seamless Search acts as a complementary platform to the existing paid search software that advertisers are already using. 

Bidding

When one assesses the interplay between paid and organic search, there’s multiple factors that can impact incrementality – which can be split into external and internal:

  • Internal factors are those that you can control, such as; current paid position, current organic position and promotions. 
  • External factors are those outside of your control, such as; competitor paid coverage, competitor organic coverage and wider marketing activity. 

Seamless Search takes all these factors into account, using ML to understand the different combinations which produce an incremental click. Once identifying the optimal position to appear in a paid perspective a bid adjustment is then made. 

Seamless Search & Google Ads

When discussing the difference between Seamless Search and Google Ads/Organic reporting it’s important to remember that Google Ads/Organic Reporting are looking at a single channel, whereas Seamless Search looks at the revenue attributed to that channel, minus the cannibalisation. Seamless Search handles the reporting and actioning on a basis that would not be possible through Google Ads or Search Console.

ROI Uplift

The best way to witness the ROI driven by Seamless Search is to analyse what happens when you add the two channels together. As it stands, using data from existing Seamless Search clients, we’re seeing the best of both worlds. Advertisers are seeing both an increase in revenue and an increase in ROI, as Seamless Search is finding areas where the advertiser can increase their coverage, and also identifying areas where the advertiser can create efficiencies.. 

Forecasting

Aware that Seamless Search is a new platform to market, we’re helping all prospect clients build a business case by providing  them with a projection of the likely impact that Seamless Search will have on their overall search results. This helps businesses decide whether or not the platform is the right fit for them. Click here to request your Incremental Revenue Forecast

During the onboarding process, you will be provided with specialist led guidance which will comprises of two sessions to enable the use of the Platform: i) Session one: A demo covering the platform functionality ii) Session two: An open Q&A session with the team which will be scheduled the following week. Pre Recorded videos providing an overview of the platform and its basic functionalities will also be available to support the users. There is also an option to opt for customised training on the more advanced uses of the platform, although this comes at an additional cost.

Click here to watch the full Seamless Search; Ask Us Anything session, or visit our Seamless Search FAQ page for more information. 

This blog was originally published on Incubeta

Incubeta Welcome Lars Lehne as New Group CEO

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We’re excited to announce the appointment of Lars Lehne as the new Group CEO of our parent company Incubeta. Based out of Hamburg, Germany, Lars will be taking over from founder Alan Lipschitz, who will be moving into the role of Chairperson of the Board of Directors of Incubeta.

Lars has an extensive background in the marketing and digital industry having previously spent four years as Global CEO at SYZYGY, a publicly listed WPP company. Prior to which, he spent seven years at Google as Country Director Agency DACH, paving the way for the tech giant quadrupling revenues in Germany. With over 30 years of industry experience, Lars also held various senior management positions in agencies including Maxus, GroupM, Carat and MEC. 

As Group CEO, Lars will be leading company positioning and growth, including its operations in North America, driving the business strategy and further uniting the group across the globe. In addition to his role as new Group CEO of Incubeta, Lars is a member of the advisory board of Yext, and betterplace.org, a Berlin based NGO. He’s also an Angel Investor in CLAIMINI GmbH.

Lars, reflecting on his new position, says “I’m thrilled and honored to be joining such a forward-thinking and innovative company. Incubeta has continued to grow during one of the most challenging years for the industry which is a testament to the quality and hard work of every team member across the globe. The company has flourished under Alan’s leadership and it’s a great privilege that he’s trusting me to take his dream forward”.

Alan Lipschitz, Founder and Chairperson of the Board, comments “I have the utmost faith Lars is the leader the company needs to take Incubeta forward. He has the expertise to bring the team further together, drive clear strategy, and build on the fantastic foundation I have been able to create with my wonderful team. So it is with great pride and pleasure that I hand the mantle of Chief Executive Officer of the Incubeta Group to Lars Lehne.”

We are thrilled to have Lars onboard and we look forward to our continued growth and development as a global brand and beyond!

NMPi by Incubeta Shortlisted at the Microsoft Advertising Partner Awards

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It is with great pleasure that we announce NMPi by Incubeta is a finalist at the Microsoft Advertising Partner Awards for the Inclusive Culture & Marketing Category. 

Awarded to the partner who  demonstrates the strongest commitment to inclusive practices both culturally within their company, and in developing inclusive marketing campaigns with their clients, we were both honoured and thrilled to have been selected as a finalist.

Keep your fingers crossed for NMPi by Incubeta in the New Year – winners announced on the 25th February.