Interaction to Next Paint (INP): Google’s New Core Web Vital Metric for User Experience

When it comes to website design, user experience is of paramount importance. In recent years, the focus has shifted to the performance of websites, with the introduction of Core Web Vitals by Google.

One such vital is Interaction to Next Paint (INP), which measures website responsiveness to user interactions.

INP is a metric that can have a significant impact on optimizing user experience, search engine rankings, and conversion rates.

A Closer Look at INP

INP is the time between the moment a user interacts with a page and the moment the page starts to respond.

INP measures responsiveness for interactive elements, such as buttons, links, and forms.

The interaction can be any click, tap, or swipe. INP is one of the Core Web Vitals metrics alongside Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS).

INP focuses on delivering a smooth and seamless interactive experience to users.

By evaluating how quickly a webpage responds to user interactions, the metric helps website owners understand how engaging their website is for visitors.

INP Values

INP values range from milliseconds to seconds. A good INP value is one that is as low as possible while ensuring that the interactivity of the webpage remains smooth.

The following table provides a breakdown of INP values:

INP Value User Satisfaction
<= 100ms Great
100ms to 300ms Needs Improvement
300ms to 1000ms Poor
> 1000ms Bad

It is essential to aim for an INP value below 100ms, given that a quick response to user interactions results in user engagement and a positive experience.

There are various tools that website owners can use to measure their INP values. These tools include Google’s PageSpeed Insights, GTmetrix, and WebPageTest.

How is Interaction to Next Paint Calculated?

How is Interaction to Next Paint Calculated?

INP measures the time it takes for a webpage to respond visually after a user interacts with it.

INP is calculated by measuring the time it takes for a webpage to visually respond after a user interacts with it, such as clicking or tapping.

A lower INP score indicates a more responsive webpage.

Source: SearchEngineJournal

How to optimize INP

Website owners can optimize their INP using several strategies. The first step involves reducing delays in response to user interactions.

This can be achieved by removing any unnecessary JavaScript or CSS that might slow down the response time.

Next, the website owner should make sure that their server response time is as low as possible. This can be achieved by selecting the right hosting provider and having a caching mechanism in place.

It is also essential to balance interactivity and website performance to ensure that the webpage remains responsive.

Too many interactive elements on a webpage can affect website speed, leading to a decline in INP values.

Lastly, there are several tips to optimize INP, such as optimizing web images, minifying CSS and JavaScript, prioritizing visible content, and reducing server response time.

Impact of Poor INP Values on Google Rankings

Impact of Poor INP Values on Google Rankings

Poor INP values can negatively impact a website’s search engine rankings. High bounce rates, low dwell times, and mobile-first indexing are all indicative of a poor user experience on a webpage and can all impact a website’s ranking negatively.

Google considers INP as an important user experience metric and plans to incorporate it into its ranking algorithm starting from March 2024.

Websites with good INP scores are likely to have better rankings in search results.

Source: Interaction to Next Paint (INP) – web.dev

Key facts about the impact of INP values on Google rankings:

  1. User Experience Focus: Google has placed a significant emphasis on user experience as a ranking factor. This means that websites with poor user experience, including slow or unresponsive interactions measured by INP, may be penalized in search rankings.
  2. Bounce Rates: High bounce rates occur when visitors leave a webpage shortly after arriving, indicating dissatisfaction with the user experience. Poor INP values can contribute to high bounce rates, negatively impacting a website’s rankings.
  3. Dwell Time: Dwell time refers to the amount of time a user spends on a webpage before returning to the search results. A poor INP value can lead to shorter dwell times, as users may become frustrated and navigate away from the site. Google considers dwell time as a factor when evaluating the quality and relevance of a webpage.
  4. Mobile-First Indexing: With the increasing use of mobile devices, Google has shifted to mobile-first indexing, prioritizing the mobile version of a website for indexing and ranking. Poor INP values on mobile devices can have a particularly detrimental impact on search rankings, as it directly affects the mobile user experience.
  5. Core Web Vitals: INP is one of the Core Web Vitals, a set of website performance metrics introduced by Google. These metrics, including INP, LCP, and CLS, are essential in determining a website’s overall user experience. Poor INP values can signal an inadequate overall website performance, which can impact search rankings.
  6. Competitor Advantage: Websites that prioritize optimizing their INP values gain a competitive advantage. By delivering a fast and responsive user experience, these websites have higher chances of ranking above competitors with poor INP values, leading to increased organic traffic and conversions.
  7. Algorithm Updates: Google frequently updates its search algorithms to improve the user experience and weed out low-quality websites. As part of these updates, Google has explicitly mentioned the importance of Core Web Vitals, including INP, and their potential impact on search rankings. Staying current with these updates and optimizing INP values can help maintain or improve search rankings.

Overall, poor INP values can have significant consequences for a website’s search rankings. By prioritizing user experience and optimizing INP, website owners can improve their website’s performance, retain visitors, and enhance their visibility in search results.

The INP Metric in Practice

Many websites have successfully optimized their INP values, leading to an improved user experience, search engine ranking, and conversion rates.

For instance, cutting-edge websites such as Forbes and The Guardian have optimized their INP values, leading to smoother and faster interactivity for their users.

However, the process of optimizing INP values can be challenging, especially for websites with many interactive elements.

Moreover, optimization can be a continuous process since adding new interactive features to a website can alter its INP values.

Conclusion

INP is a vital Core Web Vital metric that website owners cannot ignore. By measuring website responsiveness to user interactions, INP provides website owners with valuable insights into their users’ interactive experience.

A good INP value can have a positive impact on the website’s search engine ranking, conversion rates, and user engagement. Website owners can optimize their INP values by reducing delays in response to user interactions, balancing interactivity and website performance, and prioritizing visible content.

By ensuring that their website remains responsive and interactive, website owners can deliver a seamless and smooth user experience, leading to positive business outcomes.

Author: Petar Dimitrov – web designer and marketing specialist
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