The INP, or Interaction to Next Paint, is a new metric introduced by Google that measures how a website reacts to user interactions. This upcoming feature is going to make its impact in March of 2024 and will also undoubtedly bring new changes to search engine optimization and UX.
What is Interaction to Next Paint and How Does it Work?
Interaction to Next Paint is a pending Core Web Vital metric that will replace the current feature known as FID (First Input Delay) in 2024. This new tool assesses responsiveness using data from an Event Timing API.
When a user interaction causes a page to be unresponsive due to any reason, this is considered a bad user experience. INP observes these latencies, checking every user interaction related to the page and reporting a value with every interaction. Having a low INP means the site was able to respond appropriately.
The main goal of INP is to ensure that from the time a user initiates an action until the next frame is painted as soon as possible. Although some interactions take longer than others, this is mitigated by presenting visual feedback, where the user can get a cue that something is happening.
That’s why the intent of INP isn’t measuring the effect of interaction but its speed. If visual feedback (such as adding an item to the shopping cart) is delayed, it will give the impression that the page isn’t responding to its actions.
How Does INP Measure Websites’ Scores?
The labels on which the INP measures responsiveness as “good” or “bad” are challenging to establish, especially since there are many considerations to consider. The capabilities of devices that people use can set certain expectations that not everyone can get.
To ensure a website delivers a good user experience, a threshold to measure good responsiveness should have 75% of the page loads recorded in the field. This includes both mobile and desktop versions of the site.
An INP below 200ms means it has good responsiveness. It if goes from 200 to 500 ms, it needs improvement. More than 500 ms will mean it has very poor responsiveness and that changes must be done urgently.
There are also some possibilities where a page can’t return value to INP. Some reasons that can cause this are a user loading the page but not clicking, pressing a key, tapping the screen, a bot accessing the site, or simply scrolling the site.
What Are the Differences Between INP and FID?
The most evident difference is that Interact to Next Paint considers all page interactions. Meanwhile, FID only finds the first interaction made on the website. Besides that, it only measures the first input delay, not the delay between such input and the next frame.
According to the FID metric, if the first interaction is made with a page in the loading phase, it will have little to no perceptible input delay, perceiving it as a good first impression. INP does this more comprehensively, a more reliable indicator that samples every interaction.
How to Find the Causes of What Causes Slow INP Values?
It’s essential to find out what causes slow responsiveness before taking action to fix them. A lot of data is needed to tell if a site has poor optimization or only needs improvement. Once all of this info is gathered, it’s possible to begin diagnosing.
Finding Solutions in the Field Data
The path for INP optimization should always start in the field data. Real User Monitoring providers can give a site’s INP value and contextual data that can detect which interaction was responsible for providing the value it seeks, taps or pressing keys).
For sites not relying on a monitoring provider, the Chrome User Experience Report (CrUX) is a valuable tool that helps compile this information. CrUX is an official dataset from the Core Web Vitals that provides a summary of millions of metrics, including INP.
Getting Lab Field Solutions
Once the gathered data suggests that a page has slow interactions, moving to the lab field is necessary. Professionals need to follow expected user flows and test interactions along the way to find the cause during the page load.
How Can SEO Strategies Be Affected By These Metrics?
Measuring the interactions that search engine optimization can get, thanks to INP, is crucial for marketing agencies to make the most out of user experience and SEO. It can be used to evaluate a website against competitors and check how much optimization is needed to claim your page is fast and responsive.
Webmasters and SEO specialists need to learn and adopt new techniques that can be according to the new Google Guidelines. All of these approaches require the preparation for a transition from FID to INP, granting a fresh look to responsiveness and the overall experience.
SEO specialists are recommended to start by optimizing a website’s often-considered old features (multimedia loading times, precaching content, and rendering paths) to make a huge difference in responsiveness.
Ways a Marketing Specialist Should Optimize Pages of INP
Many methods can be implemented to optimize a site for these new changes. These are some of the most useful and effective ones:
Tracking INP in Google Search Console
SEO professionals can use the core web vitals report to know how a web page performs for the INP metrics.
Prioritizing Certain Sites
Agencies should allocate their webmasters to working on critical pages first and optimizing the ones with poor scores. This planning depends on factors such as a project’s workload, team size, and budget.
Pinpointing Issues and Fixes
An expert has the ability to diagnose the issue using Google tools such as Page Speed Insights, Google Lighthouse, or Chrome User Experience Report. Once the problems are found, a specialist will fix them.
Optimizing and Checking Scores
After an agency developer fixed the issues found, the INP scores need to be checked to see an updated version. Checking web browsers and mobile devices for a few days can provide the most accurate data possible.
Once the data is gathered, validating the INP updates in the Google Search Console is the next step an agency must take. A verification process can take up to 28 days to get the final result.
These third-party scripts are code added to a site to give it extra functionality. Specific trackers allow us to see how much a script is slowing down a site to remove it and increase responsiveness.
Best Tools to Measure INP for Agencies
These are some of the best tools that serious marketing agencies like Kala use in order to measure Interaction to Next Paint metrics related to a site:
Chrome User Experience Report (CrUX)
Known as CrUX, Chrome User Experience Report is a Google-powered, public dataset that aggregates user experience metrics, including INP, for millions of websites. Experts use it along with BigQuery or PageSpeed Insights to access CrUX data that allows them to analyze INP performance.
This popular online tool offers a thorough performance analysis of websites, with INP being one of the many metrics it evaluates. Webmasters that decide to use this tool to measure INP simply need to enter their clients’ website URLs, choose the desired test settings, and let the device do the rest.
Browser Developer Tools
Modern browsers, such as Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, come equipped with built-in developer tools that can measure INP. Chrome has a performance panel that records and analyzes user interactions for this use.
For a more in-depth look, Google is also able to give experts a very detailed example of how to surface slow interactions through the performance profiler.
Getting a page’s responsiveness to reach marks where users are happy with the experience they’re being provided is very important for any company.
That’s why hiring a marketing SEO company can be the best solution. Our experts at Kala will provide you with everything available to boost and optimize your site. Marketing agencies that are up to date with any of the updates of search engines are a trusted sign that should never be overlooked.
Taking time and effort to prepare for these new changes is very important because it not only focuses on providing an excellent experience to users but also shows the company’s attention to its site.