FIX: Avoid Large Layout Shifts Error in Google PageSpeed

How to Fix Avoid Large Layout Shifts Error in Google PageSpeed Insights: A Comprehensive Guide

In the digital age, website performance is crucial for maintaining user engagement and achieving high search engine rankings. Google PageSpeed Insights is a tool that helps webmasters understand and improve their website’s performance. One common issue flagged by this tool is the “Avoid large layout shifts” error, which can significantly impact user experience and SEO rankings. In this article, we’ll explore what causes large layout shifts, how to fix them, and address some frequently asked questions about this topic.

Understanding Large Layout Shifts:

Large layout shifts occur when visible elements on a webpage change position or size, causing a disruptive experience for users. This instability can happen when resources are loaded asynchronously or when elements dynamically change with user interaction. Google’s Core Web Vitals initiative includes Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) as a key metric, emphasizing the importance of visual stability for a quality user experience.

How to Identify Layout Shifts:

To identify layout shifts, use Google PageSpeed Insights or the Chrome DevTools Performance panel. These tools help pinpoint the elements causing shifts and provide a CLS score, which should be below 0.1 for a good user experience.

Fixing Large Layout Shifts:

1. Specify image and video dimensions: By setting width and height attributes on media elements, you can prevent reflow as these resources load.
2. Reserve space for ad elements: Ensure that ad slots have a defined size before ad content loads to avoid sudden changes in layout.
3. Preload web fonts: Use thefont-displayproperty or thepreloadlink attribute to minimize FOIT (Flash of Invisible Text) and FOUT (Flash of Unstyled Text).
4. Avoid inserting new content above existing content: Dynamically loaded content should not push down other content unexpectedly.
5. Use CSS transform animations: Animations that use the transform property are less likely to cause layout shifts compared to those that affect the layout directly.

Frequently Asked Questions:

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Q1: What is a good CLS score?
A1: A good CLS score is one that is below 0.1, as per Google’s guidelines.

Q2: Can layout shifts affect my SEO?
A2: Yes, layout shifts can affect SEO as they are part of Google’s Core Web Vitals, which are ranking factors.

Q3: How often should I check my website for layout shifts?
A3: Regularly monitoring your website after updates, redesigns, or adding new content is essential. Monthly checks are a good practice for most websites.

Q4: Are layout shifts more common on mobile or desktop?
A4: Layout shifts can occur on both mobile and desktop, but they are often more noticeable on mobile devices due to the smaller screen size.

Q5: Can third-party scripts cause layout shifts?
A5: Yes, third-party scripts such as ads, embeds, or widgets can cause layout shifts if not properly managed.

Addressing the “Avoid large layout shifts” error is essential for providing a stable and enjoyable user experience. By following the best practices outlined in this guide, webmasters can improve their CLS score and enhance their website’s performance. Remember to regularly monitor your website’s layout stability and make adjustments as needed to maintain a high-quality user experience and SEO ranking.