Starting in March 2024, Interaction to Next Paint (INP) will replace First Input Delay (FID) as the Core Web Vital metric. Once INP is implemented, the GSC report will no longer display FID metrics and will instead use INP as the new measure for responsiveness.

The INP metric is now available in the Google Search Console (GSC) report, and email notifications have been sent out by Google. The metric has been added earlier to assist website owners in getting ready for the upcoming changes in March 2024.

What is Interaction to Next Paint (INP)?

INP is a new metric that Google uses to measure how quickly a website responds to the actions a user takes on it.

INP specifically measures the responsiveness of a webpage, evaluating the time from when a user makes an interaction (like clicking a button or a link or typing on a keyboard) to when the resulting change is visually displayed on the screen. This change is commonly referred to as the “next paint.”

Video Example

To better understand the metric, you can watch the following video, where you can see poor versus good responsiveness.

On the left, long tasks block the accordion from opening. This causes the user to click multiple times, thinking the experience is broken. When the main thread catches up, it processes the delayed inputs, resulting in the accordion opening and closing unexpectedly.

The Importance of INP

According to Chrome usage data, users spend 90% of their time on a webpage after it has loaded. This makes it crucial to measure the page’s responsiveness during its lifecycle. A page that responds quickly to user interactions is considered to have good responsiveness.

To simplify, let’s say you’re shopping online, and you click to add an item to your cart. When a website is responsive, the cart icon will promptly reflect that the item has been added. This immediate visual feedback is crucial in ensuring a smooth online experience.

INP (Interaction to Next Paint) ensures that such feedback is provided promptly for every action a user takes on a webpage. A low INP score indicates a page that consistently provides quick feedback to user interactions. This metric is helpful for website developers and owners to understand the overall responsiveness of their websites and identify areas for improvement.

It’s important to note that hovering and scrolling doesn’t affect the INP measurement. The INP metric centers on measuring the time delay between a user interacting with a webpage through a click, tap, or key press and the resulting change displayed on the screen. Please note that scrolling actions, such as using the space bar, page up, or page down, also count as interactions and can impact the INP measurement.

The Difference Between INP and FID

As stated, INP will replace FID as a Core Web Vitals metric. While both metrics measure the responsiveness of a webpage, there are some key differences between them.

  • INP, considering all page interactions, provides a more accurate picture of the overall user experience compared to FID, which only takes into account the first interaction.
  • INP measures the full interaction latency, while FID only measures the input delay. The input delay is the time it takes for the browser to start processing user input. The full interaction latency includes the input delay, as well as the time it takes for the browser to run the event handlers and update the UI.

How to Measure INP

To measure a website’s INP, the most effective method is to collect metrics from actual user interactions. Website owners can either compile their own data or use Chrome’s user data to monitor this metric. Google can gather the INP metric data if a page has enough traffic and interactions. This metric will then be visible in the GSC report.

To evaluate the metric, use tools that provide insight into the real user experience or field data. For instance, the PageSpeed Insights report provides two types of data: field data and lab data. Google displays the Field Data only when enough traffic data has been gathered to show actual user experience measurements. The Lab Data provides projected performance assessments of the webpage in controlled conditions and can be found under the Field Data section. The Field Data section also includes the INP data if there is enough user interaction on the page, and it is reported in the GSC report. The metric cannot be visible in the lab data section as Google cannot predict user behavior due to the potential variability of interactions on the page.

If the page does not have enough user interactions, the report will not return an INP value. However, you can still find interactions to improve. Total Blocking Time (TBT) is a metric that assesses page responsiveness during load and correlates well with INP. It can give you an idea if there might be slow interactions during page load, which you can profile for improvement.

Developers can also script a user interaction in a lab environment as an alternative approach to gathering INP-related data. Keep in mind that each page interaction can have different performance characteristics, depending on which UI element the user interacts with and when that interaction occurs.

It is important to note that Google’s official documentation does not specify a particular number of required interactions on a page for the INP metric to be calculated.

What Is A Good INP Value?

According to Google’s documentation, an optimal INP value should ideally be around 200 milliseconds or less. However, INP is currently in its experimental phase. As a result, Google’s guidance on what constitutes a good INP score is subject to potential changes. Rest assured; we will diligently monitor any updates to these guidelines and promptly provide pertinent information should there be any changes.

Does INP Impact Rankings

At present, INP does not impact rankings. However, once it becomes part of Core Web Vitals, it will start to factor into Google’s ranking algorithm along with the other Core Web Vitals metrics.

If the previous 28 days do not provide enough data for the INP metric, the report will exclude it. Therefore, it will not impact the rankings.on the rankings.

While these metrics play a role, they represent only one facet of how Google evaluates search result rankings. High-quality, relevant content, backlinks, and a variety of other SEO factors continue to be crucial in this assessment.

By improving Core Web Vitals, including INP, websites can achieve long-term benefits. Enhancements in these areas can lead to a superior overall user experience, which can, in turn, boost user engagement, increase conversions, and encourage users to revisit your site in the future.

How to Optimize INP

The primary step in optimizing INP involves identifying potential issues within field data. Our team will report any significant issues identified during our regular technical checks.

Developers should note that the following steps are intended for them to take. Our team can provide insights and report issues, but actual optimization regarding INP is a task for developers.

Subsequent steps cater to developers who can find more comprehensive information in the articles listed below provided by web.dev:

Please refer to these articles for an in-depth understanding of each aspect of INP and for guided assistance in troubleshooting and optimizing a website’s performance concerning this specific metric.

Wrapping Up Interaction to Next Paint

To put it simply, Interaction to Next Paint (INP) is an important new measurement that provides a more thorough understanding of a web page’s responsiveness compared to its predecessor, First Input Delay (FID). INP considers all page interactions, which helps site owners and developers improve their sites’ responsiveness. This can lead to a better user experience and potentially increase engagement and conversion rates.

Google’s ranking algorithm does not currently include INP, but Core Web Vitals will incorporate it by March 2024. This highlights the growing importance of this metric in the realm of SEO. Therefore, it’s essential for website owners and developers to know how to measure and optimize INP.

It’s important to note that while INP is a crucial aspect of a site’s performance, it’s just one part of the bigger picture. Other Core Web Vitals, along with high-quality and relevant content, backlinks, and various other SEO factors, are also vital in the optimization process.

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