So You Failed Core Web Vitals…

Devon Montoya

Author: Devon Montoya

Published: August 2, 2022

Maybe you’ve just learned about Core Web Vitals and this is your first time running the test on your site, or maybe you are familiar with CWV but this is the first time testing a new site. No matter the context, having your site fail with low scores in big red numbers can be disheartening. It may encourage you to know that you aren’t alone. According to an initial study, 96.6% of sites tested failed their CWV test. Optimizing for this new standard is a battle everyone is facing. The good news is that failing scores are a terrific tool for improving your website. Let’s discuss why.

Fail Again, Fail Better

Like so many pursuits in life, failing can be one of the best indicators of where we have opportunities to improve. Fortunately for us, most CWV tests aren’t just a black box that spits out an arbitrary number. Failed metrics and opportunities for improved scores are laid out in clear, detailed lists which give us a roadmap to tackle corrections. Depending on the complexity and performance of our sites, this list can be lengthy and intimidating. Here are a few points we suggest keeping in mind when approaching CWV optimization:

  • Eat the elephant one bite at a time. Site performance improvement should be a progressive, iterative process. Not every problem can or should be solved at the same time. In fact, often some issues cannot be ‘solved’, but instead only mitigated or reduced in impact.
  • Prioritize. Approaching the problem iteratively means that corrections need to be prioritized and categorized. What issues can be solved quickly or easily? Which problems, when solved, will have the biggest impact? Are there any opportunities that will help solve or alleviate multiple failures? Asking questions like these will reveal which elements you need to tackle first and which may be best left for later.
  • It’s a moving target. The standards sites are measured against, much like your site. aren't static. Changes will cause fluctuations in your scores and while some issues may be solved, others may emerge to take their place. Don’t be discouraged, website performance optimization isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. As such, you will run this race over the lifetime of your website. Planning for it will ensure you avoid creating problems, but also efficiently grow and adapt.

There are other important factors to consider as well. Measuring metrics on your whole site instead of just the homepage ensures that you have a full picture of potential problem areas. This can be especially tricky when your desktop scores are strong, however your mobile scores are poor. Tracking benchmarks before each change and comparing results afterwards informs you how well your improvements may be affecting your SEO score. Any new designs or features should be approached with CWV in mind, not as an afterthought.

Igility’s Big 3

All the factors we have described above are important and integral to our process. What we would like to share now is a peek behind the curtain into three of the most common issues we find with our client’s websites and briefly how we tackle them.

First is Image Optimization. Often one of the quickest and most impactful changes that can be made is the compression and optimization of high quality images. Imagery is integral to good website design, however serving those images in full HD is often overkill, especially when many visitors may be viewing the site on a handheld device. For many of our clients, we typically recommend one of several responsive image modules/plugins. These not only allow for effective image compression with limited loss of clarity, but also dynamic resizing of images for different screen resolutions. This can also be applied to background images, which ofter take up significant screen real estate.

Second are Third Party Scripts, such as marketing technology, video hosting, and other digital services. Often these powerful site additions can have a significant performance cost. We tackle these issues by first helping our clients to strike a balance. Does the benefit of a particular service or feature outweigh the performance cost it will have on the website? Is there another service or means to achieve the desired effect that will be more performant? These kinds of considerations can help achieve the initial goal that a third party script would accomplish without dragging down site performance? We leverage best practices to optimize those third party scripts which are required for critical business metrics or customer experience. Features like lazy or deferred loading of scripts and facades can help lower the impact third party content has, especially on a CWV audit and by extension that page's search ranking.

Thirdly is our approach to CSS or the code used to style a webpage. Deviation from best practice when developing styles for a website can lead to inefficiencies that can lead to significant page load delays from loading unused styles. We utilize technology such as Critical CSS as well as scoping styles to load only on the page they are needed on instead of cluttering every page on the site. This helps to reduce the load this code has on site performance and your CWV test.


While these three factors can go a long way in affecting any site’s CWV score, the real key to our approach is that we don't give up. Understanding that improving your CWV score is something we can work at as long as the site needs it is how we continue getting outstanding results for our clients. So if you failed your Core Web Vitals test, it's far from the end, it's actually a perfect beginning. Reach out and contact us, we would love to take a look at your CWV results and walk you through how we can help you improve and start optimizing your site for the future!

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