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How To Optimize For Google Featured Snippets: A 12-step Guide

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How To Optimize For Google Featured Snippets: A 12-step Guide

It’s no secret that featured snippets are powerful. Every SEO professional (including yours truly) aims to own any available featured snippets for their content.

These expanded, descriptive search results appear as a special box prominently displayed at or near the top of the search results page (SERP). Optimizing for featured snippets (FS) can help Google better understand when your page is the best answer for a relevant query with one of these search features available.

In this column, you’ll find my tried and tested strategy for optimizing for featured snippets (including examples), my curated content calendar template for featured snippets (which you can copy and use), and FAQs to clear up any remaining questions about FS. You’ll learn:

  • What are featured snippets?
  • 4 types of featured snippets you can target.
  • A 12-step process for optimizing for featured snippets.
  • What’s new in featured snippets?
  • FAQs for featured snippets.

Let’s get started.

What Are Featured Snippets?

Featured Snippets are the expanded snippets that appear on the first position of the Google SERPs. The purpose of the Google featured snippets is to answer the user’s need right there in the search results.

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Here is Google’s definition:

Users wishing to read the complete content can click on the URL of the featured snippet.

When Google launched featured snippets, some sites were able to achieve two results on page 1 of the SERPs, which initially drove dramatic improvements in organic visibility and traffic.

But as with all things SEO, happy days never last forever; see this tweet from Danny Sullivan:

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Optimizing for featured snippets is not just about adding questions to your headlines and subheadlines. It’s much more involved than that.

4 Types Of Featured Snippets You Can Target

When looking to optimize for featured snippets, you need to understand the types of featured snippets available.

Paragraph Featured Snippets

Seventy percent of featured snippets are the paragraph type, with an average of around 42 words and 250 characters.

Paragraph Featured Snippets example.

Most of these featured snippet titles start with “What” or “Why,” indicating that they are largely informational in nature.

Pro Tip: Most of the “What” question keywords have the highest search volume, but you have to find out the question keywords with low Keyword Difficulty (KD) score to win them.

Listicle Featured Snippets

An average of 19% of featured snippets are of Listicle type, consisting of an average of 6 items and 44 words.

You’ll find two kinds of listicle featured snippets: ordered and unordered lists.

Ordered List

Ordered Listicle Featured Snippets.

Unordered List

Unordered listicle featured snippets example.Pro Tip: Listicle featured snippets are derived from “How” and “Why” keyword terms. If you’re looking to get featured snippets faster, they’re your go-to topics.

Table Featured Snippets

Around 6.3% of featured snippets are of the Table type. They have an average of five rows and two columns with 40 to 45 words.

Table featured snippets example.Pro Tip: To optimize for this type of featured snippet, mark up relevant content in a table format using the table tags in HTML. Some are tempted to make graphics for tables, but then you’re missing out on this opportunity.

Video Featured Snippets

Only 4.6% of featured snippets are of the video type, the average one being 6 minutes and 35 seconds in length.

Video featured snippet example. Pro Tip: If your audience heavily consumes video content, a video featured snippet is your way to success. Look for the keywords with low search volume and tada! You’ve got them.

How To Optimize For Featured Snippets

Whenever you see a competitor ranking on featured snippets, you should have this one question in mind:

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How do I steal that featured snippets and get one for my website?

Here’s how to get started.

1. Identify Competitors’ Featured Snippets

Stealing competitors’ featured snippets is not easy.

Put the competitors’ URL in Semrush and look for the keyword groups that own featured snippets.

Steal competitors featured snippets from Semrush.

Now, you want to:

  • Export the list.
  • Categorize them into different types of featured snippets.
  • Sort them by higher search volume.
  • Highlight the low KD score.
  • And gather them to initiate planning.

Copy this content calendar template to start planning, implementing, and optimizing your content to rank.

Content Calendar example.

Don’t forget to add the content topics and the type of featured snippet in your content calendar to keep track of why you’re optimizing the page.

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2. Gather The Keywords For Each FS-owned Content

Once you’re done with finalizing the content topics, it’s time to identify the keywords present on the content currently owning featured snippets.

Click on the down arrow in Semrush beside the selected keyword to see the expanded information on the keywords ranking on featured snippets.

Keyword Research to optimize featured snippets.

Collect the related as well as question keywords and add them to your content calendar.

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3. Understand Searcher Intent

One of the most important considerations in optimizing for featured snippets is understanding the search intent behind each triggering query.

Three types of people search for your keywords:

  • Potential customers.
  • Influencers who persuade your potential customers to buy from you.
  • And your competitors.

You’re going to write the content for the first two. Each will have different intents while searching, but it will always be informational (and navigational when users want to click through them).

Because there was only one search intent for a featured snippet, I thought to classify them further into four categories depending on whether they want:

  • A specific answer.
  • A brief answer.
  • A comparison.
  • A video.

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Get A Specific Answer

Here, a user search query is a question that requires a specific answer. This type of FS has a lower CTR as people come to get a specific answer and typically do not want or need to read further.

This type of FS can help in brand building but is unlikely to drive a lot of traffic.

Question keyword with search intent of getting specific answer.Get A Brief Answer

Here, the user expects a paragraph or listicle type of featured snippet as shown in the types section above. If users want to get more information, they’ll click on the results.

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This type of search query assists in both CTR and brand reputation.

Get A Comparison

This type of search query comes up with a table type of featured snippet. The table content is larger than what Google Featured Snippets can show. So, this type of search intent is most likely to boost the CTR.

Get A Video

And lastly, if users are looking for “how-to” answers and a video attached to those answers, it will get the maximum CTR.

Understand the different types of informational search intent behind the search query. They are relevant to the type of featured snippets available, which can help you plan and optimize your content.

4. Run A Competitive Analysis

Go back to Semrush and open its SEO content template tool. Input your keyword or content topic, select the targeted location, and click on the green button.

You’ll get the below SEO recommendations for your content to plan the content optimization for featured snippets.

  • Your top 10 rivals for target keywords to let you understand whom you’re going to compete with

SEO Recommendations by SEO Content Tool.

  • Key recommendations from them in terms of what your content must have, backlinks it shall acquire, readability it must have, and recommended text length to serve the user search intent and expectations.

Key recommendations by Semrush.

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  • Suggestions on how they’re using target keywords so you can use them better.

Competitors target keyword research.

  • Basic SEO recommendations to make your content search-friendly.

Basic SEO recommendations.

5. Create/Update The Content Outline

By now, you have the content topics, their targeted keywords, type of featured snippet, its search intent, and a pool of SEO recommendations from competitors’ snippets.

If you’re writing new content, you need to create the content outline. And if you’ve already written the piece, you may need to revamp the outline as per the research gathered above.

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6. Create Content Better Than The Competition’s

  • Cover the basic information users expect in content based on the user search query and its intent.
  • Add more value than competing blogs by including statistical data, rich media, examples, pointers, etc.
  • Write in simple and shorter sentences to improve the readability of the content.
  • Focus on research-based content over opinion-based. Citations help Google better understand your content.

You should always aim to create the best content — that is, content that delivers value for years, like the piece below.

The example of best content.

7. Validate The Content

Once you have the content ready, double-check that it meets your needs for:

  • Your target audience.
  • Defined user search intent.
  • Targeted keywords.
  • Suggestions listed.

This check is vital to ensure you’re on the right track towards getting a featured snippet.

8. Organize Your Content For Readers & Search Engines

Well-organized content is easy to scan through, read, and understand for users and search engines.

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Here’s an example of how you might organize a piece of content to give it good structure.

Organize your content with Heading Tags.

I recently tweeted about how you can turn a paragraph featured snippet into a listicle just by organizing and creating content accordingly.

9. Add Question Keywords In Heading Tags

Organizing your content to get featured snippets is incomplete without adding question keywords to the heading tags.

Pick up the relevant question keywords with high search volume and put them in your heading tags. Most of the featured snippets you see on Google start right after a heading tag.

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Look at an example below:

Heading Tags in Featured Snippets.

The right question keyword phrase in the right place can make all the difference.

10. Add Relevant Graphics

Graphics play a crucial role in owning a featured snippet, especially for the paragraph and listicle-type featured snippets.

Try to use real-life pictures or custom-made graphics rather than stock images to improve the users’ experience and avoid appearing generic.

Add as many images as your content requires.

Add relevant graphics.

11. Implement SEO Tactics

Your content is ready for users. Now you need to help Google understand what the page is all about — and quickly.

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Here are some SEO tactics that work for featured snippets:

  • Perfect URL structure: Keep your URLs short, ideally three to four words.
  • Title tag: Use Coschedule Headline Analyzer and the SEOmofo snippet optimization tool to create a catchy title tag that fits the pixel requirements.
  • Meta description tag: Use SEOmofo to make the most of the pixels available and write user-centric and keyword-specific meta descriptions to drive the highest clicks.
  • Heading tags: Use question keywords, as discussed above.
  • Image Alt attributes: For all graphics, make sure you use descriptive alt text to help Google understand what the image is all about. Most of the best-performing content has images with alt attributes.
  • Internal links: Help Google identify your site’s most important pages. If you achieve a featured snippet, you want to support the rankings of your best pages with it.
  • External links: Let Google know which external sites you trust and demonstrate credibility with your citations.
  • Schema markup tags: Help Google understand what your page is about and recognize elements like tables.
  • Link building: Build links to help Google understand your website’s authoritativeness.

12. Keep Optimizing Your Content Until You Achieve A Featured Snippet

With this process of optimizing for featured snippets in place, I check the results at 7, 14, and 21 days.

If I see an improvement in impressions, I’ll work harder for clicks. Be sure to track the differences in impressions, rankings, and CTR in Google Search Console, and traffic and visibility in Semrush.

Keep on optimizing your content until you see a featured snippet and can track results from it, such as:

Track Featured Snippets.

What’s New For Featured Snippets In 2021?

Recently, the SEO industry noticed two new features on Google Search results for featured snippets.

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“Hear this out loud” Button

When you click on this button, the content is read aloud while the text is highlighted alongside.

“Also covered on this page” Section

This section appears below the main section of the featured snippet and picks up the heading tags that you’ve added to your page.

Also covered on this page section example.

Now you have another reason to better organize your content using heading tags!

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) For Google Featured Snippets

Here are some of the most frequently asked featured snippets questions I get from SEO professionals.

Why Might Featured Snippets Be Removed?

Your featured snippet may get removed automatically or manually by Google if it comes under:

  • Dangerous content.
  • Deceptive practices.
  • Harassing content.
  • Hateful content.
  • Manipulated media.
  • Medical content.
  • Sexually explicit content.
  • Terrorist content.
  • Violence and gore.
  • Vulgar language and profanity.
  • Content that contradicts with the content by experts in the fields of civic, medical, scientific, and historical.

If you fall astray of Google’s policies, you may lose the featured snippet. Of course, you might lose it if a competitor does a better job of answering that query, too.

Are Featured Snippets Available for Ecommerce Products or Category Pages?

No. Ecommerce products can get featured listings on Google SERPs using Google Shopping and Product Listing Ads (PLAs).

However, ecommerce websites can still own featured snippets for their guides and blogs.

Featured Snippets Vs. Rich Snippets: What’s The Difference?

Featured snippets are picked up from the web page’s content to answer a user query, while rich snippets are an enhanced organic search result.

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If your search result has reviews attached to it, that’s a rich snippet. If your web page provides information to users in a bit more detailed way on the first position on SERPs, it’s a featured snippet.

Learn more about optimizing for rich snippets here.

How Do Featured Snippets Work?

To understand how featured snippets work, let’s break down Google’s patent on generating snippets based on content:

How Does Featured Snippets Work? Google Patent Figure 4AHow Does Featured Snippets Work? Google Patent Figure 4B

When Google receives a search query, it tries to find the best result to match it. And when Google is ready with the list of search results, it follows the below process to pick up the relevant featured snippet from the top 10 search results:

  1. Identifying the text features within a keyword-based sentence to check its eligibility to rank as a FS.
  2. Determining the break features that would indicate the place where the keyword-based sentence can be truncated on a featured snippet.
  3. Calculating and assigning the snippet score to identify the strength of the snippets.
  4. Selecting the snippet with the highest snippet score.

That’s how Google selects a website for featured snippets and works to provide the relevant information quickly to the users.

Go, Get Your Featured Snippets Now!

Google’s featured snippet format focuses on providing information to the users on its platform itself. However, not all information can be displayed in 40-45 words.

Hence, they can be a great tool to boost your organic traffic.

Use the above guide to own featured snippets and become a thought leader in your industry, giving your brand reputation and organic traffic a boost. If you’ve optimized your site well, conversions will follow!

2021 SEJ Christmas Countdown:

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No Algorithmic Actions For Site Reputation Abuse Yet

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Looking up at an angle at the Google sign on the Head Office for Canada

Google’s Search Liaison, Danny Sullivan, has confirmed that the search engine hasn’t launched algorithmic actions targeting site reputation abuse.

This clarification addresses speculation within the SEO community that recent traffic drops are related to Google’s previously announced policy update.

Sullivan Says No Update Rolled Out

Lily Ray, an SEO professional, shared a screenshot on Twitter showing a significant drop in traffic for the website Groupon starting on May 6.

Ray suggested this was evidence that Google had begun rolling out algorithmic penalties for sites violating the company’s site reputation abuse policy.

However, Sullivan quickly stepped in, stating:

“We have not gone live with algorithmic actions on site reputation abuse. I well imagine when we do, we’ll be very clear about that. Publishers seeing changes and thinking it’s this — it’s not — results change all the time for all types of reasons.”

Sullivan added that when the actions are rolled out, they will only impact specific content, not entire websites.

This is an important distinction, as it suggests that even if a site has some pages manually penalized, the rest of the domain can rank normally.

Background On Google’s Site Reputation Abuse Policy

Earlier this year, Google announced a new policy to combat what it calls “site reputation abuse.”

This refers to situations where third-party content is published on authoritative domains with little oversight or involvement from the host site.

Examples include sponsored posts, advertorials, and partner content that is loosely related to or unrelated to a site’s primary purpose.

Under the new policy, Google is taking manual action against offending pages and plans to incorporate algorithmic detection.

What This Means For Publishers & SEOs

While Google hasn’t launched any algorithmic updates related to site reputation abuse, the manual actions have publishers on high alert.

Those who rely heavily on sponsored content or partner posts to drive traffic should audit their sites and remove any potential policy violations.

Sullivan’s confirmation that algorithmic changes haven’t occurred may provide temporary relief.

Additionally, his statements also serve as a reminder that significant ranking fluctuations can happen at any time due to various factors, not just specific policy rollouts.


FAQ

Will Google’s future algorithmic actions impact entire websites or specific content?

When Google eventually rolls out algorithmic actions for site reputation abuse, these actions will target specific content rather than the entire website.

This means that if certain pages are found to be in violation, only those pages will be affected, allowing other parts of the site to continue ranking normally.

What should publishers and SEOs do in light of Google’s site reputation abuse policy?

Publishers and SEO professionals should audit their sites to identify and remove any content that may violate Google’s site reputation abuse policy.

This includes sponsored posts and partner content that doesn’t align with the site’s primary purpose. Taking these steps can mitigate the risk of manual penalties from Google.

What is the context of the recent traffic drops seen in the SEO community?

Google claims the recent drops for coupon sites aren’t linked to any algorithmic actions for site reputation abuse. Traffic fluctuations can occur for various reasons and aren’t always linked to a specific algorithm update.


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WP Rocket WordPress Plugin Now Optimizes LCP Core Web Vitals Metric

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WP Rocket WordPress Plugin Now Optimizes LCP Core Web Vitals Metric

WP Rocket, the WordPress page speed performance plugin, just announced the release of a new version that will help publishers optimize for Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), an important Core Web Vitals metric.

Large Contentful Paint (LCP)

LCP is a page speed metric that’s designed to show how fast it takes for a user to perceive that the page is loaded and read to be interacted with. This metric measures the time it takes for the main content elements has fully loaded. This gives an idea of how usable a webpage is. The faster the LCP the better the user experience will be.

WP Rocket 3.16

WP Rocket is a caching plugin that helps a site perform faster. The way page caching generally works is that the website will store frequently accessed webpages and resources so that when someone visits the page the website doesn’t have to fetch the data from the database, which takes time, but instead will serve the webpage from the cache. This is super important when a website has a lot of site visitors because that can use a lot of server resources to fetch and build the same website over and over for every visitor.

The lastest version of WP Rocket (3.16) now contains Automatic LCP optimization, which means that it will optimize the on-page elements from the main content so that they are served first thereby raising the LCP scores and providing a better user experience.

Because it’s automatic there’s really nothing to fiddle around with or fine tune.

According to WP Rocket:

  • Automatic LCP Optimization: Optimizes the Largest Contentful Paint, a critical metric for website speed, automatically enhancing overall PageSpeed scores.
  • Smart Management of Above-the-Fold Images: Automatically detects and prioritizes critical above-the-fold images, loading them immediately to improve user experience and performance metrics.

All new functionalities operate seamlessly in the background, requiring no direct intervention from the user. Upon installing or upgrading to WP Rocket 3.16, these optimizations are automatically enabled, though customization options remain accessible for those who prefer manual control.”

Read the official announcement:

WP Rocket 3.16: Improving LCP and PageSpeed Score Automatically

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Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint: A Step-By-Step Guide

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Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint: A Step-By-Step Guide

This post was sponsored by DebugBear. The opinions expressed in this article are the sponsor’s own.

Keeping your website fast is important for user experience and SEO.

The Core Web Vitals initiative by Google provides a set of metrics to help you understand the performance of your website.

The three Core Web Vitals metrics are:

This post focuses on the recently introduced INP metric and what you can do to improve it.

How Is Interaction To Next Paint Measured?

INP measures how quickly your website responds to user interactions – for example, a click on a button. More specifically, INP measures the time in milliseconds between the user input and when the browser has finished processing the interaction and is ready to display any visual updates on the page.

Your website needs to complete this process in under 200 milliseconds to get a “Good” score. Values over half a second are considered “Poor”. A poor score in a Core Web Vitals metric can negatively impact your search engine rankings.

Google collects INP data from real visitors on your website as part of the Chrome User Experience Report (CrUX). This CrUX data is what ultimately impacts rankings.

Image created by DebugBear, May 2024

How To Identify & Fix Slow INP Times

The factors causing poor Interaction to Next Paint can often be complex and hard to figure out. Follow this step-by-step guide to understand slow interactions on your website and find potential optimizations.

1. How To Identify A Page With Slow INP Times

Different pages on your website will have different Core Web Vitals scores. So you need to identify a slow page and then investigate what’s causing it to be slow.

Using Google Search Console

One easy way to check your INP scores is using the Core Web Vitals section in Google Search Console, which reports data based on the Google CrUX data we’ve discussed before.

By default, page URLs are grouped into URL groups that cover many different pages. Be careful here – not all pages might have the problem that Google is reporting. Instead, click on each URL group to see if URL-specific data is available for some pages and then focus on those.

1716368164 358 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of Google Search Console, May 2024

Using A Real-User Monitoring (RUM) Service

Google won’t report Core Web Vitals data for every page on your website, and it only provides the raw measurements without any details to help you understand and fix the issues. To get that you can use a real-user monitoring tool like DebugBear.

Real-user monitoring works by installing an analytics snippet on your website that measures how fast your website is for your visitors. Once that’s set up you’ll have access to an Interaction to Next Paint dashboard like this:

1716368164 404 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the DebugBear Interaction to Next Paint dashboard, May 2024

You can identify pages you want to optimize in the list, hover over the URL, and click the funnel icon to look at data for that specific page only.

1716368164 975 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideImage created by DebugBear, May 2024

2. Figure Out What Element Interactions Are Slow

Different visitors on the same page will have different experiences. A lot of that depends on how they interact with the page: if they click on a background image there’s no risk of the page suddenly freezing, but if they click on a button that starts some heavy processing then that’s more likely. And users in that second scenario will experience much higher INP.

To help with that, RUM data provides a breakdown of what page elements users interacted with and how big the interaction delays were.

1716368164 348 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the DebugBear INP Elements view, May 2024

The screenshot above shows different INP interactions sorted by how frequent these user interactions are. To make optimizations as easy as possible you’ll want to focus on a slow interaction that affects many users.

In DebugBear, you can click on the page element to add it to your filters and continue your investigation.

3. Identify What INP Component Contributes The Most To Slow Interactions

INP delays can be broken down into three different components:

  • Input Delay: Background code that blocks the interaction from being processed.
  • Processing Time: The time spent directly handling the interaction.
  • Presentation Delay: Displaying the visual updates to the screen.

You should focus on which INP component is the biggest contributor to the slow INP time, and ensure you keep that in mind during your investigation.

1716368164 193 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the DebugBear INP Components, May 2024

In this scenario, Processing Time is the biggest contributor to the slow INP time for the set of pages you’re looking at, but you need to dig deeper to understand why.

High processing time indicates that there is code intercepting the user interaction and running slow performing code. If instead you saw a high input delay, that suggests that there are background tasks blocking the interaction from being processed, for example due to third-party scripts.

4. Check Which Scripts Are Contributing To Slow INP

Sometimes browsers report specific scripts that are contributing to a slow interaction. Your website likely contains both first-party and third-party scripts, both of which can contribute to slow INP times.

A RUM tool like DebugBear can collect and surface this data. The main thing you want to look at is whether you mostly see your own website code or code from third parties.

1716368164 369 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the INP Primary Script Domain Grouping in DebugBear, May 2024

Tip: When you see a script, or source code function marked as “N/A”, this can indicate that the script comes from a different origin and has additional security restrictions that prevent RUM tools from capturing more detailed information.

This now begins to tell a story: it appears that analytics/third-party scripts are the biggest contributors to the slow INP times.

5. Identify Why Those Scripts Are Running

At this point, you now have a strong suspicion that most of the INP delay, at least on the pages and elements you’re looking at, is due to third-party scripts. But how can you tell whether those are general tracking scripts or if they actually have a role in handling the interaction?

DebugBear offers a breakdown that helps see why the code is running, called the INP Primary Script Invoker breakdown. That’s a bit of a mouthful – multiple different scripts can be involved in slowing down an interaction, and here you just see the biggest contributor. The “Invoker” is just a value that the browser reports about what caused this code to run.

1716368165 263 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the INP Primary Script Invoker Grouping in DebugBear, May 2024

The following invoker names are examples of page-wide event handlers:

  • onclick
  • onmousedown
  • onpointerup

You can see those a lot in the screenshot above, which tells you that the analytics script is tracking clicks anywhere on the page.

In contrast, if you saw invoker names like these that would indicate event handlers for a specific element on the page:

  • .load_more.onclick
  • #logo.onclick

6. Review Specific Page Views

A lot of the data you’ve seen so far is aggregated. It’s now time to look at the individual INP events, to form a definitive conclusion about what’s causing slow INP in this example.

Real user monitoring tools like DebugBear generally offer a way to review specific user experiences. For example, you can see what browser they used, how big their screen is, and what element led to the slowest interaction.

1716368165 545 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of a Page View in DebugBear Real User Monitoring, May 2024

As mentioned before, multiple scripts can contribute to overall slow INP. The INP Scripts section shows you the scripts that were run during the INP interaction:

1716368165 981 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the DebugBear INP script breakdown, May 2024

You can review each of these scripts in more detail to understand why they run and what’s causing them to take longer to finish.

7. Use The DevTools Profiler For More Information

Real user monitoring tools have access to a lot of data, but for performance and security reasons they can access nowhere near all the available data. That’s why it’s a good idea to also use Chrome DevTools to measure your page performance.

To debug INP in DevTools you can measure how the browser processes one of the slow interactions you’ve identified before. DevTools then shows you exactly how the browser is spending its time handling the interaction.

1716368165 526 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of a performance profile in Chrome DevTools, May 2024

How You Might Resolve This Issue

In this example, you or your development team could resolve this issue by:

  • Working with the third-party script provider to optimize their script.
  • Removing the script if it is not essential to the website, or finding an alternative provider.
  • Adjusting how your own code interacts with the script

How To Investigate High Input Delay

In the previous example most of the INP time was spent running code in response to the interaction. But often the browser is already busy running other code when a user interaction happens. When investigating the INP components you’ll then see a high input delay value.

This can happen for various reasons, for example:

  • The user interacted with the website while it was still loading.
  • A scheduled task is running on the page, for example an ongoing animation.
  • The page is loading and rendering new content.

To understand what’s happening, you can review the invoker name and the INP scripts section of individual user experiences.

1716368165 86 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the INP Component breakdown within DebugBear, May 2024

In this screenshot, you can see that a timer is running code that coincides with the start of a user interaction.

The script can be opened to reveal the exact code that is run:

1716368165 114 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of INP script details in DebugBear, May 2024

The source code shown in the previous screenshot comes from a third-party user tracking script that is running on the page.

At this stage, you and your development team can continue with the INP workflow presented earlier in this article. For example, debugging with browser DevTools or contacting the third-party provider for support.

How To Investigate High Presentation Delay

Presentation delay tends to be more difficult to debug than input delay or processing time. Often it’s caused by browser behavior rather than a specific script. But as before, you still start by identifying a specific page and a specific interaction.

You can see an example interaction with high presentation delay here:

1716368165 665 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the an interaction with high presentation delay, May 2024

You see that this happens when the user enters text into a form field. In this example, many visitors pasted large amounts of text that the browser had to process.

Here the fix was to delay the processing, show a “Waiting…” message to the user, and then complete the processing later on. You can see how the INP score improves from May 3:

1716368165 845 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of an Interaction to Next Paint timeline in DebugBear, May 2024

Get The Data You Need To Improve Interaction To Next Paint

Setting up real user monitoring helps you understand how users experience your website and what you can do to improve it. Try DebugBear now by signing up for a free 14-day trial.

1716368165 494 Optimizing Interaction To Next Paint A Step By Step GuideScreenshot of the DebugBear Core Web Vitals dashboard, May 2024

Google’s CrUX data is aggregated over a 28-day period, which means that it’ll take a while before you notice a regression. With real-user monitoring you can see the impact of website changes right away and get alerted automatically when there’s a big change.

DebugBear monitors lab data, CrUX data, and real user data. That way you have all the data you need to optimize your Core Web Vitals in one place.

This article has been sponsored by DebugBear, and the views presented herein represent the sponsor’s perspective.

Ready to start optimizing your website? Sign up for DebugBear and get the data you need to deliver great user experiences.


Image Credits

Featured Image: Image by Redesign.co. Used with permission.

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