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First Input Delay – A Simple Explanation via @sejournal, @martinibuster

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First Input Delay (FID) is a user experience metric that Google uses as a small ranking factor.

This article offers an easy-to-understand overview of FID to help make sense of the topic.

First input delay is more than trying to please Google. Improvements to site performance generally lead to increased sales, ad revenue, and leads.

What is First Input Delay?

FID is the measurement of the time it takes for a browser to respond to a site visitor’s first interaction with the site while the site is loading. This is sometimes called Input Latency.

An interaction can be tapping a button, a link, or a keypress, and the response given in response. Text input areas, dropdowns, and checkboxes are other kinds of interaction points that FID will measure.

Scrolling or zooming do not count as interactions because there’s no response expected from the site itself.

The goal for FID is to measure how responsive a site is while it’s loading.

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The Cause of First Input Delay

First Input Delay is generally caused by images and scripts that download in a non-orderly manner.

This disordered coding causes the web page download to excessively pause, then start, then pause. This causes unresponsive behavior for site visitors attempting to interact with the web page.

It’s like a traffic jam caused by a free-for-all where there are no traffic signals. Fixing it is about bringing order to the traffic.

Google describes the cause of input latency like this:

“In general, input delay (a.k.a. input latency) happens because the browser’s main thread is busy doing something else, so it can’t (yet) respond to the user.

One common reason this might happen is the browser is busy parsing and executing a large JavaScript file loaded by your app.

While it’s doing that, it can’t run any event listeners because the JavaScript it’s loading might tell it to do something else.”

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How to Fix Input Latency

Since the root cause of First Input Delay is the disorganized download of scripts and images, the way to fix the problem is to thoughtfully bring order to how those scripts and images are presented to the browser for download.

Solving the problem of FID generally consists of using HTML attributes to control how scripts download, optimizing images (the HTML and the images), and thoughtfully omitting unnecessary scripts.

The goal is to optimize what is downloaded to eliminate the typical pause-and-start downloading of unorganized web pages.

Why Browsers Become Unresponsive

Browsers are software that complete tasks to show a web page. The tasks consist of downloading code, images, fonts, style information, and scripts, and then running (executing) the scripts and building the web page according to the HTML instructions.

This process is called rendering. The word render means “to make,” and that’s what a browser does by assembling the code and images to render a web page.

The individual rendering tasks are called threads, short for “thread of execution.” This means an individual sequence of action (in this case, the many individual tasks done to render a web page).

In a browser, there is one thread called the Main Thread and it is responsible for creating (rendering) the web page that a site visitor sees.

The main thread can be visualized as a highway in which cars are symbolic of the images and scripts that are downloading and executing when a person visits a website.

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Some code is large and slow. This causes the other tasks to stop and wait for the big and slow code to get off the highway (finish downloading and executing).

The goal is to code the web page in a manner that optimizes which code is downloaded first and when the code is executed, in an orderly manner, so that the web page downloads in the fastest possible manner.

Don’t Lose Sleep Over Third-Party Code

When it comes to Core Web Vitals and especially with First Input Delay, you’ll find there is some code over you just can’t do much about. However, this is likely to be the case for your competitors, as well.

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For example, if your business depends on Google AdSense (a big render-blocking script), the problem is going to be the same for your competitor. Solutions like lazy loading using Google Ad Manager can help.

In some cases, it may be enough to do the best you can because your competitors may not do any better either.

In those cases, it’s best to take your wins where you can find them. Don’t sweat the losses where you can’t make a change.

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JavaScript Impact on First Input Delay

JavaScript is like a little engine that makes things happen. When a name is entered on a form, JavaScript might be there to make sure both the first and last name is entered.

When a button is pressed, JavaScript may be there to tell the browser to spawn a thank you message in a popup.

The problem with JavaScript is that it not only has to download but also has to run (execute). So those are two things that contribute to input latency.

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If a big JavaScript file is located near the top of the page, that file is going to block the rest of the page beneath it from rendering (becoming visible and interactive) until that script is finished downloading and executing.

This is called blocking the page.

The obvious solution is to relocate these kinds of scripts from the top of the page and put them at the bottom so they don’t interfere with all the other page elements that are waiting to render.

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But this can be a problem if, for example, it’s placed at the end of a very long web page.

This is because once the large page is loaded and the user is ready to interact with it, the browser will still be signaling that it is downloading (because the big JavaScript file is lagging at the end). The page may download faster but then stall while waiting for the JavaScript to execute.

There’s a solution for that!

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Defer and Async Attributes

The Defer and Async HTML attributes are like traffic signals that control the start and stop of how JavaScript downloads and executes.

An HTML attribute is something that transforms an HTML element, kind of like extending the purpose or behavior of the element.

It’s like when you learn a skill; that skill becomes an attribute of who you are.

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In this case, the Defer and Async attributes tell the browser to not block HTML parsing while downloading. These attributes tell the browser to keep the main thread going while the JavaScript is downloading.

Async Attribute

JavaScript files with the Async attribute will download and then execute as soon as it is downloaded. When it begins to execute is the point at which the JavaScript file blocks the main thread.

Normally, the file would block the main thread when it begins to download. But not with the async (or defer) attribute.

This is called an asynchronous download, where it downloads independently of the main thread and in parallel with it.

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The async attribute is useful for third-party JavaScript files like advertising and social sharing — files where the order of execution doesn’t matter.

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Defer Attribute

JavaScript files with the “defer” attribute will also download asynchronously.

But the deferred JavaScript file will not execute until the entire page is downloaded and rendered. Deferred scripts also execute in the order in which they are located on a web page.

Scripts with the defer attribute are useful for JavaScript files that depend on page elements being loaded and when the order they are executed matter.

In general, use the defer attribute for scripts that aren’t essential to the rendering of the page itself.

Input Latency is Different for All Users

It’s important to be aware that First Input Delay scores are variable and inconsistent. The scores vary from visitor to visitor.

This variance in scores is unavoidable because the score depends on interactions that are particular to the individual visiting a site.

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Some visitors might be distracted and not interact until a moment where all the assets are loaded and ready to be interacted with.

This is how Google describes it:

“Not all users will interact with your site every time they visit. And not all interactions are relevant to FID…”

In addition, some users’ first interactions will be at bad times (when the main thread is busy for an extended period of time), and some user’s first interactions will be at good times (when the main thread is completely idle).

This means some users will have no FID values, some users will have low FID values, and some users will probably have high FID values.”

Why Most Sites Fail FID

Unfortunately, many content management systems, themes, and plugins were not built to comply with this relatively new metric.

This is the reason why so many publishers are dismayed to discover that their sites don’t pass the First Input Delay test.

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But that’s changing as the web software development community responds to demands for different coding standards from the publishing community.

And it’s not that the software developers making content management systems are at fault for producing products that don’t measure up against these metrics.

For example, WordPress addressed a shortcoming in the Gutenberg website editor that was causing it to score less well than it could.

Gutenberg is a visual way to build sites using the interface or metaphor of blocks. There’s a widgets block, a contact form block, and a footer block, etc.

So the process of creating a web page is more visual and done through the metaphor of building blocks, literally building a page with different blocks.

There are different kinds of blocks that look and behave in different ways. Each individual block has a corresponding style code (CSS), with much of it being specific and unique to that individual block.

The standard way of coding these styles is to create one style sheet containing the styles that are unique to each block. It makes sense to do it this way because you have a central location where all the code specific to blocks exists.

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The result is that on a page that might consist of (let’s say) twenty blocks, WordPress would load the styles for those blocks plus all the other blocks that aren’t being used.

Before Core Web Vitals (CWV), that was considered the standard way to package up CSS.

Since the introduction of Core Web Vitals, that practice is considered code bloat.

This is not meant as a slight against the WordPress developers. They did a fantastic job.

This is just a reflection of how rapidly changing standards can hit a bottleneck at the software development stage before being integrated into the coding ecosystem.

We went through the same thing with the transition to mobile-first web design.

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Gutenberg 10.1 Improved Performance

WordPress Gutenberg 10.1 introduced an improved way to load the styles by only loading the styles that were needed and not loading the block styles that weren’t going to be used.

This is a huge win for WordPress, the publishers who rely on WordPress, and of course, the users who visit sites created with WordPress.

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Time to Fix First Input Delay is Now

Moving forward, we can expect that more and more software developers responsible for the CMS, themes, and plugins will transition to First Input Delay-friendly coding practices.

But until that happens, the burden is on the publisher to take steps to improve First Input Delay. Understanding it is the first step.

Citations

Chrome User Experience Report

PageSpeed Insights

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Chrome Dev Tools Lighthouse

Google Search Console (Core Web Vitals report)

Optimize First Input Delay

First Input Delay

User-centric Performance Metrics

GitHub Script for Measuring Core Web Vitals

Searchenginejournal.com

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The Top 10 Social Media Sites & Platforms 2022

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The Top 10 Social Media Sites & Platforms 2022

Social media is a pillar of many people’s daily lives.

The Digital 2022 April Global Statshot Report found that there are 4.65 billion social media users on the planet. That’s 58.7% of the global population, many of whom are using social media as a primary source of information.

From news (and disinformation) to lifestyle tips, decision-making to product research, social media users can gather all the information they need, without ever leaving their platform of choice.

And it’s not just in the U.S. (though 84% of Americans use at least one social media network). China now has more than 1 billion social media users, despite still having roughly 415 million citizens without internet access.

For marketers, these are more than just eye-catching numbers – they’re potential customers. And if you have a proper social media strategy, they can become realized customers.

Unfortunately, it’s not just as easy as hanging out your shingle on Facebook and waiting for the business to come rolling in.

You have to have a strategy to raise brand awareness, connect with potential customers, and engage with your audience. And a key part of that is being in the right place.

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For example, if you’re selling retirement homes, TikTok probably isn’t the place for you, as 47.4% of users are under 30.

Similarly, if you want to target native Chinese speakers, Facebook probably isn’t the right platform for you, as it only has 3.3 million users in China.

So, how do you choose where to spend your time (and potential ad spend)?

Unless your company has deep pockets and doesn’t care about results, a shotgun approach, where you try to target everyone, everywhere, at the same time isn’t effective.

You need to consider which channels are right for your audience.

Before you go all-in on one social media site, test several out. See if you’re getting the results you want, and then strategically choose which ones you want to double down on.

In this piece, we’ll look at some of the most popular social media platforms, give you a quick overview of them, and make suggestions about what type of business they might work for.

Top 10 Social Media Platforms Compared

MAU Revenue Launched Headquarters
1 Facebook 2.9 billion $85.96 billion 2004 Menlo Park, CA
2 YouTube 2.2 billion $28.8 billion 2005 San Bruno, California
3 WhatsApp 2 billion $5.5 billion 2009 Menlo Park, California
4 Instagram 2 billion $24 billion 2010 Menlo Park, CA
5 TikTok 1 billion $11 billion 2016 Culver City, CA
6 Snapchat 538 million $1.06 billion 2011 Los Angeles, CA
7 Pinterest 444 million $575 million 2005 San Francisco, CA
8 Reddit 430 million $289.9 million 2010 San Francisco, CA
9 LinkedIn 250 million $12. 4 billion 2006 San Francisco, CA
10 Twitter 217 million $5.42 billion 2003 Mountain View, CA

The Top 10 Social Media Apps By Monthly Active Users

MAU
1 Facebook 2.9 billion
2 YouTube 2.2 billion
3 WhatsApp 2 billion
4 Instagram 2 billion
5 TikTok 1 billion
6 Snapchat 538 million
7 Pinterest 444 million
8 Reddit 430 million
9 LinkedIn 250 million
10 Twitter 217 million

The Top 10 Social Media Sites And Platforms

1. Facebook

Screenshot by author, May 2022FB Page sample

Headquarters: Menlo Park, CA

Launched: 2004

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Monthly Active Users: 2.9 billion

Founders: Mark Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz, Chris Hughes

Revenue: $86 billion (2022)

Facebook isn’t number one anymore. Sure, the platform that you connect with your mom, third-grade teacher, and neighbor is still there, and still as popular as ever (even more so, actually).

But now it’s Meta. Or at least the company that owns it, Instagram, and WhatsApp are now Meta, Inc.

The platform has seen a demographic shift, but it’s still the big dog on the social media block.

Some of the leading industries on Facebook include financial services, ecommerce, retail, gaming, entertainment, media, telecom, technology, consumer goods, and automotive businesses.

The News Feed increasingly suppresses business posts, but there are still ways to bolster engagement without investing in ads.

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However, if you really want to drive action from your audience, Facebook ads are a great way to do it.

Consider joining (or creating) groups, using a Facebook Messenger chatbot, or using live video to up your engagement.


2. YouTube

SEJ Youtube home pageScreenshot by author, May 2022SEJ Youtube home page

Launched: 2005

Headquarters: San Bruno, California

Monthly Active Users: 2.2 billion

Revenue: $28.8 billion (2022)

Founders: Jawed Karim, Steve Chen, Chad Hurley

The original video social media platform, YouTube maintains dominance in that market. It is currently the second most used platform with 2.2 billion monthly active users.

The potential for reach on YouTube is unrivaled, with 81% of U.S. adults using the platform. The numbers can’t be ignored.

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YouTube has a strong user base across all age groups. This includes the difficult-to-reach 65+ demographic, 49% of whom use the platform, second only to Facebook.

YouTube covers all genres from beauty, gaming, and education to DIY home improvements. This is the platform for most brands to invest in, with video being the growing medium for content marketing.


3. WhatsApp

WhatsApp homepageScreenshot by author, May 2022WhatsApp homepage

Launched: 2009

Headquarters: Menlo Park, California

Monthly Active Users: 2 billion

Revenue: $5.5 billion (2022) estimated

Founders: Brian Acton, Jan Koum

WhatsApp remains the most popular social messaging app, way out in front of Facebook Messenger.

The closed messaging app might not seem the obvious choice for brands. But consider that SMS has a 98% open rate compared to 20% for email. It’s a captive audience. And, unlike SMS, WhatsApp messages are free to send.

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If you use WhatsApp for customer service and retention, you probably already realize its potential for brands is huge and distinctly under-leveraged.

If you can crack WhatsApp, you’ll have a direct marketing channel to your audience.


4. Instagram

SEJ IG Screenshot by author, May 2022SEJ IG

Headquarters: Menlo Park, CA

Launched: 2010

Monthly Active Users: 2 billion

Founders: Kevin Systrom, Mike Krieger

Revenue: $24 billion (2022)

Instagram is a social network where product-based businesses, influencers, and coaches can thrive.

Since introducing shoppable posts in 2018, the potential ROI for product-based businesses is higher than ever – not only can B2B’s connect with a massive audience, they can link the product information and sales straight from the Gram.

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If your target demographic is under 35, Instagram is a gold mine: 67% of 18-24-year-olds use Instagram, with 67% of Generation Z and 58% of Millennials using the app daily.

Read more Instagram Statistics and Facts for 2021.


5. TikTok

TikTok Official AccountScreenshot by author, May 2022TikTok Official Account

Launched: 2016

Headquarters: Culver City, California

Monthly Active Users: 1 billion

Founders: ByteDance Ltd, Zhang Yiming, Toutiao

Revenue: $11 billion (2022)

TikTok bills itself as “the leading destination for short-form mobile video” with a company mission to inspire creativity and bring joy.

TikTok has certainly struck a chord as it’s the youngest app to market but has already seen incredible growth.

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In 2017, after only one year, the app became the fastest growing app worldwide.

Despite attempts to ban TikTok in the U.S. and being banned in India, as of 2021, the app had been downloaded more than 3 billion times globally.

If you want to connect with Generation Z, TikTok is the platform to check out.

In the U.S., 25% of the audience is a teenager or younger. Those users are highly engaged, too; with an average user session of nearly 11 minutes, which is twice as long as Pinterest, the next closest app.


6. Snapchat

Snapchat HomepageScreenshot by author, May 2022Snapchat Homepage

Headquarters: Los Angeles, CA

Launched: 2011

Monthly Active Users: 538 million

Founders: Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy, Daniel Smith, David Kravitz, Leo Noah Katz

Revenue: $1.06 billion  (2022)

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If your target demographic is young, you definitely want to get in on Snapchat.

The most active users on Snapchat are 13-year-olds, and they’re spending upwards of 30 minutes a day on the app.

Snapchat is a haven for user-generated content, behind-the-scenes videos, exclusive offers, and influencer takeovers.


7. Reddit

SEJ on RedditScreenshot by author, May 2022SEJ on Reddit

Launched: 2005

Headquarters: San Francisco, CA

Monthly Active Users: 430 million

Founders: Steve Huffman, Alexis Ohanian, Aaron Swartz

Revenue: $289.9 million (2022)

Reddit heralds itself as “the front page of the internet,” and according to Alexa rankings, Reddit is one of the top 20 most-visited sites.

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Reddit has a unique blend of content and community, with more than 2.8 million communities or subreddits, dedicated to every topic imaginable.

With so many niches, there’s a place for every brand and business – it’s a matter of finding the niches where your potential customers are active and diving in.

However, be warned: Reddit is a fickle place and won’t tolerate blatant self-promotion.

Tread lightly as you begin to navigate because if you get the tone wrong, commentators are quick to jump in and can trash a brand.


8. Pinterest

SEJ on PinterestScreenshot by author, May 2022SEJ on Pinterest

Launched: 2010

Headquarters: San Francisco, CA

Monthly Active Users: 444 million

Founders: Ben Silbermann, Paul Sciarra, Evan Sharp

Revenue: $574 million (2022)

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Some of the most popular content on Pinterest includes fashion, food, decor, wedding, workout, and DIY-related pins.

In addition, anything with rich visuals can thrive on Pinterest.

Notably, 60% of Pinterest users are female. If you have a predominantly female audience, that’s a compelling reason to invest time in social media marketing on Pinterest.

That’s not to say that men aren’t on Pinterest – it has a male audience percentage of 40%.


9. Twitter

SEJ on TwitterScreenshot by author, May 2022SEJ on Twitter

Headquarters: San Francisco, CA

Launched: 2006

Monthly Active Users: 217 million (2021)

Founders: Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams, Biz Stone, Noah Glass

Revenue: $1.2 billion (2022)

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Unlike other social media platforms, Twitter saw a decrease in the number of users in the past year. This may be attributed to the banning of former president Donald Trump and fears of conservative censorship.

As of this writing, the site is in the process of completing a $44 billion sale to Tesla CEO Elon Musk. This announcement led to large fluctuations in follower numbers as the political makeup of the users changed, a process Twitter referred to as “organic” in nature.

In spite of a clear understanding of what the future holds for the platform, if your business is related to entertainment, sports, politics, tech, or marketing, you stand to earn tremendous engagement on this app.

On Twitter, brands have an opportunity to craft and hone their voice. There’s room to be clever and personable, while still being informative and helpful.

Jump into threads, provide value, share your own content as well as others, and join the non-stop conversation.


10. LinkedIn

SEJ on LinkedInScreenshot by author, May 2022SEJ on LinkedIn

Headquarters: Sunnyvale, CA

Launched: 2003

Monthly Active Users: 830 million (2022)

Founders: Reid Hoffman, Konstantin Guericke, Allen Blue, Jean-Luc Vaillant, Eric Ly

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Revenue: $8.05 billion (2020)

Within its massive network of professionals, you’ll find more than 61 million users in senior positions on LinkedIn.

If you’re looking for decision-makers who have the power to hire your company, stock your product, or partner with you, LinkedIn is the place to be.

Did you know that the average LinkedIn user has an income more than $2,000 above the national median? Or that 50 million people use it to search for jobs every week?

LinkedIn is a very focused social media platform, and because of that,  it has unlimited potential for connecting with an elite group of professionals who can make a difference for your business.

Which Platform(s) Should You Use?

Social media is everywhere. And everyone is using it, from your teenage neighbor who’s trying to go viral on TikTok with the latest dance, to your 86-year-old grandmother who’s using Facebook to track down long-lost friends.

But, not all platforms work for every business. So, if you were hoping you’d reach the end of this piece and there would be an easy answer as to which ones your company should be on, well, you’re out of luck.

That’s not to say there isn’t an answer, it’s just that every social media mix will be unique.

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Different platforms have different functionality which often makes them more suitable for specific brands and industries.

Are you looking to boost customer engagement? Increase your reach? Create unforgettable brand experiences?

You need to figure out what you want to get out of your social media presence and then determine which strategy will help you achieve those goals.

Be selective, find the platform or platforms your audience is using, and then customize your campaign to reach them.


Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal

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