When it comes to website performance and user experience, Core Web Vitals play a crucial role. These are a set of metrics introduced by Google to measure and evaluate the overall user experience of a website. One of the key metrics within Core Web Vitals is Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS), which focuses on the visual stability of a webpage.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) refers to the unexpected shifting of webpage elements during the loading process. It occurs when the layout of a page changes after it starts rendering, causing buttons, images, or other elements to move around. This can be frustrating for users, as it leads to accidental clicks or difficulty in navigating the site.
CLS is measured by calculating the impact fraction and distance fraction of each layout shift on the page. The impact fraction represents the proportion of the viewport affected by the layout shift, while the distance fraction indicates the total distance a shifted element moves relative to the viewport’s size. A lower CLS score signifies a better user experience, as it indicates minimal layout shifts.
CLS is essential for SEO because it directly impacts user experience. Websites with a high CLS tend to have lower user engagement, higher bounce rates, and reduced conversions. Users are more likely to abandon a website that constantly shifts its layout, as it creates a sense of instability and frustration. As a result, search engines prioritize websites that provide a better user experience, including those with lower CLS scores.
|Why CLS is important for SEO
|1. Improved user experience leads to higher engagement.
|2. Reduced bounce rates and increased time on site.
|3. Enhanced website credibility and user trust.
|4. Higher chances of conversion and customer satisfaction.
In conclusion, Core Web Vitals and specifically Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) are crucial elements to consider for website owners and developers who want to enhance their user experience and improve their SEO rankings. Understanding CLS and its impact on user engagement helps in identifying and rectifying layout shift issues, ultimately leading to a better website performance and improved search engine rankings.
Understanding CLS: The Basics
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) is one of the Core Web Vitals metrics that measures the visual stability of a webpage during the loading process. It focuses on the unexpected shifts in the layout of a page that can disrupt the user experience. In this section, we will delve into the basics of CLS, including what constitutes layout shift, how it is measured, and the components involved in its calculation.
What constitutes layout shift?
Layout shift refers to any visible movement of elements on a webpage that occurs after the initial rendering. This can happen due to a variety of reasons, such as images or videos without dimensions, dynamically injected content, or late-loading web fonts. These shifts can be frustrating for users, especially when they lead to unintended clicks or changes in the position of important elements.
To quantify the extent of layout shift, three factors are considered:
- Impact fraction: This refers to the proportion of the viewport that is affected by the layout shift.
- Distance fraction: This measures the maximum distance that an element has shifted relative to the viewport size.
- Time interval: It calculates the duration between layout shifts.
How is CLS measured?
CLS is measured using a scoring system where a score of 0.1 or below is considered good, while a score greater than 0.25 is deemed poor. The score is derived by multiplying the impact fraction by the distance fraction and dividing it by the time interval. The resulting score represents the cumulative layout shift for a webpage.
Google provides tools such as PageSpeed Insights and Chrome DevTools to measure CLS. These tools not only analyze the CLS score but also provide insights into the specific elements causing layout shifts. By monitoring and optimizing CLS, website owners can improve the user experience and enhance their search engine rankings.
The components of CLS calculation
Calculating CLS involves considering every layout shift on a webpage. Each shift is assigned a score based on its impact fraction, distance fraction, and time interval. These individual scores are then added up to calculate the cumulative layout shift for the entire page.
The following table illustrates a simplified example of how the components of CLS calculation work:
In this example, the cumulative layout shift score is 0.07, which indicates a moderate level of layout shift on the webpage. By identifying and addressing the specific layout shifts causing the highest impact, website owners can work towards reducing the CLS score and improving the overall user experience.
Understanding the basics of CLS, including what constitutes layout shift, how it is measured, and the components involved in its calculation, is crucial for website owners to optimize their webpages and provide a seamless browsing experience for their users. By prioritizing improvements in CLS, websites can enhance their SEO performance and user engagement.
The Impact of CLS on User Experience
When it comes to user experience, Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) can have a significant impact on the overall engagement and satisfaction of website visitors. CLS refers to the unexpected movement of elements on a webpage, which can lead to frustration and confusion for users.
One of the key ways layout shifts affect user engagement is by disrupting the flow of interaction. Imagine scrolling through a webpage, trying to read an article, when suddenly a large image loads and pushes all the content down. This sudden movement can cause users to lose their place, leading to a disjointed and frustrating experience.
Table: Examples of Layout Shifts and Their Impact
|Impact on User Experience
|Navigation menu moves while clicking
|Difficult navigation and frustration
|Text input field shifts while typing
|Confusion and potential data loss
|Images load and push down content
|Disrupted reading experience
Furthermore, CLS has a strong correlation with bounce rates. When users encounter frequent and unexpected layout shifts, they are more likely to leave the website without engaging further. This can result in a higher bounce rate, which is a negative signal for both user experience and SEO.
To put it simply, if your website has a high CLS score, it means visitors are experiencing a disrupted and frustrating browsing experience. This can lead to decreased engagement, increased bounce rates, and ultimately, a negative impact on your website’s performance and conversions.
CLS and Its Role in Google’s Ranking Algorithm
Google’s emphasis on user experience in rankings has led to the inclusion of several performance metrics in its algorithm. One of the key metrics that Google considers is Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). CLS measures the visual stability of a webpage by quantifying unexpected layout shifts that occur during the loading process.
When a webpage’s elements shift unexpectedly while it is being rendered, it can lead to a frustrating user experience. These layout shifts can cause users to unintentionally click on the wrong elements, resulting in poor user engagement and potentially affecting conversion rates. To address this issue, Google has made CLS an important factor in determining a website’s ranking on its search engine results page.
The inclusion of CLS in Google’s page experience signals highlights the search engine’s commitment to providing users with websites that deliver a seamless and enjoyable browsing experience. Websites that have a low CLS score are more likely to rank higher on Google’s search results, as they are deemed to be user-friendly and provide a better overall experience.
|No Intrusive Interstitials
|Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
As seen in the table above, CLS is one of the factors that contribute to a website’s page experience score. While it is not as highly weighted as factors like page speed and mobile-friendliness, it still plays a significant role in determining a website’s overall ranking. Therefore, it is crucial for website owners and developers to prioritize reducing CLS and ensuring a smooth and stable layout during the loading process.
By optimizing the elements on a webpage, such as images, ads, and dynamic content, webmasters can minimize unexpected layout shifts, thereby improving their CLS score and increasing their chances of ranking higher on Google’s search results. It is recommended to regularly monitor and analyze CLS scores to identify and address any potential issues that may impact user experience and search engine rankings.
Diagnosing CLS Issues on Your Website
If you want to improve the user experience and boost your website’s performance, it is essential to diagnose and address any Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) issues. Fortunately, there are several tools available to help you measure and identify these problems.
Tools to Measure and Identify CLS Problems
One of the most popular tools for diagnosing CLS issues is Google’s PageSpeed Insights. This tool provides a comprehensive analysis of your website’s performance, including an evaluation of the CLS. It also offers suggestions on how to fix any layout shift problems.
Another valuable tool is the Web Vitals Chrome extension. This extension allows you to see real-time CLS measurements as you navigate through your website. It provides insights into specific elements causing layout shifts, such as images, videos, or ads. By identifying these problem areas, you can take targeted actions to reduce the CLS.
In addition to these tools, you can also use web analytics platforms like Google Analytics or Core Web Vitals reports to monitor and track CLS scores over time. These reports provide detailed information on your website’s CLS performance, allowing you to identify trends and patterns.
Interpreting CLS Scores
Understanding and interpreting CLS scores is crucial for diagnosing layout shift issues accurately. CLS scores range from 0 to 1, with lower scores indicating better user experience. A score of 0 means there are no layout shifts, while a score of 1 signifies significant layout instability.
When interpreting CLS scores, it’s essential to consider both the magnitude and frequency of layout shifts. A high CLS score may indicate that elements on your website are moving around frequently or that the shifts are severe. To address this, you need to identify the specific elements causing the shifts and optimize them accordingly.
It’s important to note that different CLS scores can impact user experience differently. For example, a website with a CLS score of 0.1 may not pose a significant problem, while a website with the same score but with frequent and large shifts can lead to a frustrating user experience.
By using the right tools and interpreting CLS scores effectively, you can gain valuable insights into the layout shift issues on your website. Armed with this information, you can take targeted actions to optimize your website and improve the overall user experience.
Strategies for Improving CLS
When it comes to improving Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS), there are several best practices that website owners and developers can follow. By minimizing layout shifts, optimizing images and media, and handling dynamic content and ads effectively, you can provide a better user experience and improve your website’s CLS score.
1. Best practices for minimizing layout shifts
The first step in improving CLS is to minimize layout shifts on your website. This can be done by ensuring that all elements have explicit dimensions, so that the browser can reserve the necessary space for them. This prevents sudden changes in layout when new content loads or when the user interacts with the page. Additionally, avoid using animations or transitions that can cause unexpected shifts in elements.
Here are some best practices to follow:
|Best Practices for Minimizing Layout Shifts
|Use CSS property transform instead of top, left, right, or bottom to animate or position elements.
|Avoid dynamically injecting content above existing content, as it can push down the rest of the page.
2. Tips for optimizing images and media
Images and media files can significantly impact CLS if not optimized properly. Here are some tips to optimize images and media:
- Specify image dimensions in HTML or CSS to reserve space for the image before it loads.
- Use responsive images to deliver appropriately sized images based on the user’s device and viewport size.
- Lazy load images and videos to prevent them from contributing to layout shifts before they are visible on the screen.
- Use efficient image formats, such as WebP, to reduce file size without compromising quality.
3. How to handle dynamic content and ads
Dynamic content and ads can be major contributors to layout shifts. Here are some strategies to handle them effectively:
- Reserve space for ads and dynamically injected content to prevent layout shifts. This can be done by using CSS aspect ratio boxes or placeholders.
- Avoid inserting ads or content above the main content, as it can cause the entire page to shift.
- Consider using ad containers with fixed dimensions to prevent layout shifts when ads load.
- Preload ad scripts asynchronously to minimize their impact on page rendering.
By implementing these strategies and following best practices, you can reduce Cumulative Layout Shift on your website, improving user experience and ultimately boosting your SEO performance.
Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them
When it comes to Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS), there are several common pitfalls that website owners often encounter. Understanding these pitfalls and knowing how to avoid them is crucial for improving your CLS score and enhancing user experience on your website.
Typical Causes of High CLS
One of the typical causes of high CLS is the inclusion of elements without predefined sizes or dimensions. When these elements load and shift, it can lead to unexpected layout changes. This often happens with images, videos, or ads that don’t have specific width and height attributes assigned to them. To avoid this pitfall, make sure to set the dimensions for all media elements on your website.
Another common cause of high CLS is the late loading of content or resources. When content appears on the screen after initial rendering, it can disrupt the layout and cause shifts. This commonly occurs with lazy-loaded images or dynamically generated content. To prevent this, prioritize the loading of critical resources and ensure that all elements are loaded in a way that doesn’t interfere with the overall layout.
Table: Typical Causes of High CLS
|Inclusion of elements without predefined sizes
|Set dimensions for all media elements
|Late loading of content or resources
|Prioritize loading of critical resources and avoid interfering with layout
Avoiding Unintended Layout Shifts
To avoid unintended layout shifts, it’s important to follow some best practices:
- Use CSS animations and transitions responsibly: If you’re using animations or transitions on your website, make sure they don’t cause unexpected shifts. Test them thoroughly to ensure they behave as intended.
- Reserve space for dynamic content: If you have dynamic content, such as ads or user-generated comments, make sure to reserve space for them in the layout. This prevents sudden shifts when the content loads.
- Be mindful of third-party scripts: Third-party scripts can introduce layout shifts if they load slowly or modify the layout. Monitor and optimize the performance of external scripts to minimize their impact.
By following these guidelines, you can minimize the occurrence of unintended layout shifts and improve your CLS score. This, in turn, will enhance the user experience on your website and positively impact your SEO efforts.
Monitoring CLS Over Time
The performance of your website is not a one-time concern. It is crucial to continuously monitor and optimize your Core Web Vitals, especially Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS), to ensure a positive user experience and maintain your search engine rankings. Continuous monitoring allows you to identify and address any CLS issues promptly, preventing negative impacts on user engagement and SEO.
To effectively monitor CLS over time, you can utilize a range of tools and techniques. These resources provide valuable insights into the performance of your website and help you track changes in CLS. One popular tool is Google’s PageSpeed Insights, which provides a CLS score along with recommendations for improvement.
Additionally, you can use the Chrome User Experience Report (CrUX) to access real-user data and insights on CLS. This data is valuable as it reflects the actual experiences of users visiting your website. By analyzing CrUX data, you can identify specific pages or areas of your site that need improvement and prioritize your optimization efforts.
Another technique for monitoring CLS over time is to set up regular performance audits. These audits involve running tests on your website at regular intervals using tools like Lighthouse or WebPageTest. By comparing the results of these tests over time, you can track changes in CLS and identify areas where improvements have been made or where further optimization is needed.
|Google’s PageSpeed Insights
|Provides CLS score and improvement recommendations
|Chrome User Experience Report (CrUX)
|Offers real-user data on CLS
|Regular performance audits
|Allows for tracking changes in CLS over time
In addition to these tools and techniques, it is essential to establish a baseline for CLS by monitoring your website’s performance before implementing any optimization strategies. This baseline will serve as a reference point for evaluating the effectiveness of your optimizations and understanding the impact on CLS.
By continuously monitoring CLS over time, you can ensure that your website maintains a positive user experience and stays on top of the ever-evolving search engine ranking algorithms. Regularly tracking CLS changes and implementing necessary optimizations will help you provide a smooth and stable browsing experience, reducing the likelihood of frustrating layout shifts and improving user engagement on your website.
The Future of CLS and SEO
The world of SEO and user experience is constantly evolving, and one metric that has gained significant importance is Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). As websites continue to focus on providing a seamless user experience, it is crucial to understand the future implications of CLS and how it will impact SEO strategies.
The evolving landscape of SEO and user experience: With Google’s continuous updates and algorithm changes, user experience has become a key ranking factor. CLS, being one of the Core Web Vitals, plays a vital role in determining the overall user experience of a website. As search engines become more sophisticated, they prioritize websites that provide a smooth and engaging user experience. Therefore, optimizing CLS becomes crucial for ensuring better search engine rankings.
Preparing for ongoing changes in web performance metrics: As technology advances and user expectations continue to rise, web performance metrics will keep evolving. While CLS is currently one of the important metrics, it is essential to stay prepared for upcoming changes in the future. By focusing on optimizing CLS today, website owners can establish a strong foundation for adapting to any future web performance metrics that search engines may introduce.
To stay ahead in the ever-changing SEO landscape, it is important to keep track of emerging trends and adapt your strategies accordingly. Here are some key steps you can take:
|Stay updated with search engine algorithm changes and announcements.
|Regularly monitor and analyze your website’s performance metrics, including CLS.
|Continuously optimize your website’s design and layout to minimize layout shifts.
|Focus on enhancing overall user experience by improving page loading speed and interactivity.
|Invest in responsive design and mobile optimization to cater to the increasing number of mobile users.
By following these steps, you can not only improve your website’s CLS and overall user experience but also stay prepared for future changes in web performance metrics. Remember, providing a seamless and engaging user experience is key to staying competitive in the ever-evolving world of SEO.
FAQ about What Is CLS SEO
What is Core Web Vitals?
Core Web Vitals are a set of specific metrics that Google uses to measure and evaluate the overall user experience of a website. These metrics include loading speed, interactivity, and visual stability.
What is Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)?
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) is one of the three Core Web Vitals metrics. It measures the visual stability of a webpage by calculating and summing the unexpected layout shifts that occur as the page loads. It helps determine how much content on a page moves around, causing a disruptive user experience.
Why is CLS important for SEO?
CLS is important for SEO because it directly impacts user experience. Websites with poor CLS scores can lead to frustrated users, higher bounce rates, and lower rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs). By improving CLS, you enhance user satisfaction and increase the chances of higher organic traffic and better search rankings.
What constitutes a layout shift?
A layout shift occurs when visible elements on a webpage unexpectedly move from their original position. This can happen due to various reasons, such as late-loading images, dynamic content, or ads that push down the existing content.
How is CLS measured?
CLS is measured by calculating the impact fraction and distance fraction of each layout shift. The impact fraction represents the proportion of the screen affected by the shift, while the distance fraction measures how far the elements moved relative to the screen size.
What are the components of CLS calculation?
The components of CLS calculation include the layout shift score, impact fraction, and distance fraction. The layout shift score is the sum of the impact fractions multiplied by the distance fractions, providing an overall measure of the cumulative layout shift on a webpage.
How do layout shifts affect user engagement?
Layout shifts can negatively affect user engagement as they interrupt the user’s browsing experience. When content unexpectedly moves or jumps around, it can lead to accidental clicks, misplaced interactions, and difficulty in reading or interacting with the page. This can result in frustration and may cause users to abandon the website.
Is there a correlation between CLS and bounce rates?
Yes, there is a correlation between CLS and bounce rates. High CLS scores often lead to higher bounce rates, indicating that users are more likely to leave a webpage quickly due to a poor user experience caused by frequent layout shifts. By reducing CLS, you can improve user engagement and decrease bounce rates.
Does Google consider user experience in rankings?
Yes, Google considers user experience as an important factor in rankings. It aims to provide the most relevant and user-friendly results to its users. Websites that prioritize user experience, including factors like CLS, loading speed, and interactivity, are more likely to rank higher in search engine results.
Is CLS included in Google’s page experience signals?
Yes, CLS is included in Google’s page experience signals. These signals are a set of metrics that assess the overall user experience of a webpage. Starting from May 2021, Google considers CLS as one of the important factors in determining a website’s page experience and can impact its rankings on SERPs.
What tools can measure and identify CLS problems?
There are several tools available to measure and identify CLS problems on your website. Some popular options include Google PageSpeed Insights, Chrome DevTools, Lighthouse, and Web Vitals Extension. These tools provide insights, scores, and suggestions for improving CLS and other Core Web Vitals metrics.
How do I interpret CLS scores?
CLS scores are typically represented as a decimal number, where lower scores indicate better visual stability. A perfect CLS score would be 0, meaning no unexpected layout shifts on the page. As scores increase, it indicates a higher frequency and magnitude of layout shifts. It is important to aim for low CLS scores to provide a smooth and stable user experience.
What are the best practices for minimizing layout shifts?
To minimize layout shifts, some best practices include:
– Setting dimensions for images and videos to ensure they reserve the required space.
– Avoiding inserting new content above existing content, as it can cause layout shifts.
– Using CSS animations with proper preloading techniques.
– Loading web fonts with the “font-display” property set to “swap” or “optional” to prevent layout shifts caused by font loading.
How can I optimize images and media to reduce CLS?
To optimize images and media and reduce CLS, consider the following:
– Specify image dimensions in HTML or CSS.
– Use lazy loading techniques to defer the loading of images and videos until they are needed.
– Compress and optimize images to reduce file sizes without significant loss of visual quality.
– Utilize responsive images to serve appropriately sized images based on the user’s device and viewport.
What is the best approach for handling dynamic content and ads to minimize CLS?
To minimize CLS caused by dynamic content and ads, consider the following approaches:
– Reserve space for dynamic content by specifying dimensions or using placeholder elements.
– Prioritize loading above-the-fold content first to ensure a stable initial view.
– Asynchronously load ads or dynamically injected content to prevent sudden layout shifts.
– Monitor and test the impact of different ad placements and configurations on CLS.
Can you provide examples of websites that improved their CLS?
Yes, there are several examples of websites that have successfully reduced their CLS. For instance, a news website optimized its ad placements and lazy loaded images, resulting in a significant reduction in layout shifts. Similarly, an e-commerce site improved CLS by avoiding late-loading product images and optimizing the loading of customer reviews.
What impact did reducing CLS have on SEO and user engagement for these websites?
By reducing CLS, these websites experienced positive impacts on both SEO and user engagement. They observed improvements in their search rankings, organic traffic, and user satisfaction metrics. With reduced layout shifts, users were more likely to stay on the site, interact with the content, and complete desired actions, leading to better conversions and overall business success.
What are the typical causes of high CLS?
There are several typical causes of high CLS, including:
– Images, ads, or iframes without specified dimensions or with delayed loading.
– Dynamic content that pushes down existing content.
– Fonts that load slowly or change size after rendering.
– Third-party scripts or widgets that modify the page layout.
– Elements that are incorrectly positioned or change size without warning.
How can I avoid unintended layout shifts?
To avoid unintended layout shifts, follow these guidelines:
– Always specify image, video, and iframe dimensions.
– Use CSS properties like “position: sticky” or “aspect-ratio” to ensure consistent positioning.
– Avoid adding or modifying elements above existing content after the initial page load.
– Minimize the use of third-party scripts or ensure they are optimized for minimal impact on page layout.
I am Kirill, the CEO of KeyRealSeo. I’m an SEO aficionado, always riding the wave of the latest technologies and integrating them seamlessly into my processes.