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First Input Delay - What Is It and Why Is It Important

First Input Delay: What Is It and Why Is It Important?

Table of Contents

Search engine optimization has evolved a lot throughout the years. What started as a way to organize data and websites has now turned into a marketing science – an art form even. If you dabble in digital marketing, you’ll find out that SEO is the secret to the online success of brands and businesses.

When search engine optimization was merely starting, there were no rules. You just had to put keywords that were relevant to your search and let the search engine work its magic. With the advent of smartphones and social media, the market has become more competitive, and the game has changed entirely.

Search engine giants like Google aim to create a fair playground for businesses in terms of digital marketing by taking into consideration factors such as user experience. In their press release last 2020, Google explained that page experience is slowly becoming the number one factor for user preference.

What this means is that the faster a website page pops up upon search, the more encouraged a user becomes to visit that website over and over, and the more traffic a website has, the higher its ranking in search engines like Google.

What Does Search Engine Optimization Do?

If you are overwhelmed by the number of technical terms that will only make sense if you have advanced computer literacy or marketing knowledge, worry not. Let’s take it back to the basics.

To simplify, search engine optimization is a strategy in digital marketing where you will use certain keywords and create specific content with these keywords in order for your brand or website to have a high rank in search engines like Google.

A high search engine ranking ensures website traffic, meaning a lot of people will be able to find your website. When people frequent your site, there is a higher chance for conversion. That’s just about the surface of digital marketing and SEO.

However, as the market has become more saturated and competitive, Google established a new set of metrics – a way to measure website effectivity – to level the playing field. One such metric that they have introduced is the First Input Delay.

What Is First Input Delay?

Back in May 2020, Google announced the release of Core Web Vitals, a collection of new metrics that are focused on the speed, responsiveness, and visual stability of a website. The Core Web Vitals has three performance metrics: First Input Delay (FID), Cumulative Layout Shift, and Largest Contentful Paint.

First Input Delay is practically the time spent from clicking a link to the browser processing it. For instance, if you click on a search result on Google, the time spent between clicking the link to the browser action afterward is the First Input Delay.

In a recent study done by Google, they have noticed that user experience has a big effect on website traffic. Regardless of whether your SEO content is top-notch, if the interface of your website is a bit slow, then your ranking will definitely be a bit lower.

Digital marketers for brands and businesses are now understanding what the First Input Delay is and how to maximize the metric for an efficient search engine optimization strategy.

How Important Is FID in SEO?

The answer to this question is: very important. In a world that is becoming more and more fast-paced, first impressions matter. The First Input Delay will determine the initial user experience. After all, FID is designed to measure a site’s interactivity and responsiveness. Think of it this way: First Input Delay is what makes you decide if the website is good or not. We all want our Internet experience to be fast and reliable, so the lower the metrics for FID, the better the website.

To aid in search engine optimization and digital content marketing, websites must also get a good First Input Delay metric score. A good FID score is a delay of 100 milliseconds or less.

FID vs. Time to Interactive

FID measures the processing time between clicking a link and the browser’s reaction. It does not measure other aspects such as the actual process and updating of a website. This is designed this way so that web developers will have an easier time tracking the user experience through FID.

At first, beginners will understandably interchange First Input Delay and Time to Interactive. However, there is a big difference between the two metric systems. To fully understand the concepts and main differences between the two, it is important to know the definition of Time to Interactive first.

Time to Interactive refers to the time that a website page is fully interactive. The metric is registered when valuable contents are already displayed and rendered on the website page. Both FID and TTI are helpful in improving search engine optimization for websites and brands. As experts predict, better FID, better website traffic.

Since Google is improving its Core Web Vitals for a smoother user experience and aims to accommodate more brands into the playing field, First Input Delay has become a major consideration in web development.

What Causes FID?

User experience is an important factor to consider when creating a digital media strategy for your brand. That is why aside from creating good content and properly promoting your brand, your team should employ web developers that are updated with the recent search engine optimization trends and user experience design.

Since First Input Delays are now as important as the content itself, we must understand what causes FID to know how to maneuver around the issues and adapt to its changes for an efficient user experience design. Here are the common reasons why a website receives a low FID score:

Heavy JavaScipt

JavaScript is a widely-used programming language on the Internet. A large number of websites employ JavaScript for their websites, and sometimes when there are large bundles of scripts, it causes the website to slow down. Large bundles of JavaScript often slow down page response and the FID of a website as well.

Poorly-Optimized Codes

In order for a website to run smoothly, web developers must be meticulous in their coding and checking for mistakes. Poorly-optimized codes can create a lot of delays and can turn a website into a chaotic mess. When developing competitive websites, make sure to check and double-check the codes to avoid delays.

Unused JavaScript

Similar to when there is a large bundle of JavaScript, unused JavaScript codes can hinder the website’s interactivity and response. Make sure to get rid of the old and unused JavaScript codes for the website to run smoothly.

How Can You Measure FID Scores?

Web developers have their own way of measuring First Input Delays and the other Core Web Vitals. However, for digital marketers and those who work with search engine optimization, this can be a difficult and overwhelming task.

Since Google is focused on giving a quality user experience, it developed ways to make the browser and the search engine mobile-friendly and prioritize safe browsing. With this in mind, it is important to adhere to the new rules of the playing field and be able to survive in the competitive marketing industry.

Third-party hosting websites often include services on how to improve First Input Delay, like FID metric monitoring in their package. Most digital marketers consult specific apps like PageSpeed to conduct monitoring and measurements regarding FID and engagements. Here are other tools that can help measure FID scores:

Chrome User Experience Report

Google developed the Chrome UX Report as a browser extension to track user experience across the Web. Chrome User Experience Report uses standard Web platform APIs that can give detailed measurements and feedback on engagements and awareness.

Search Console Core Web Vitals Report

The console core web vitals analyze and give users an idea of the performance of a specific website with regards to the Core Web Vitals within a 90-day period. If you want to do some quick monitoring, this user experience design metric system should be your best bet.

PageSpeed Insights

PageSpeed Insights is probably one of the most popular and effective applications that measure user experience. The application does auditing and monitoring as it keeps track of these records for comparison.


Lighthouse is another powerful and popular application for website and user experience monitoring. In this application, you can easily monitor the loading speed and interactivity of your website, as well as get advice on how to maximize your performance.

How to Improve First Input Delay

Now that we know how FID works and how it affects search engine optimization and digital marketing, in general, we use this knowledge to improve First Input Delay. Remember, when doing search engine optimization, the success of your website and content does not rely on keywords alone. Here are some tips for improved First Input Delay and a positive user experience.

Optimize Third-Party Scripts

For those who are not familiar with coding jargon, third-party scripts are resources that are often found in JavaScript that provide additional functionality for a website. To put it simply, third-party scripts are codes that can be embedded into a website from a third-party source.

Optimize these third-party scripts such as social media buttons and analytics so that they will not contribute to the loading time of the website and have a negative user experience design.

Accelerate JavaScript

It will greatly help the FID scoring when long-running tasks are broken down into smaller, simpler ones. This way, the browser will have ample time to optimize a user’s request and give them a positive user experience.

Minimize Out-of-Use Polyfills

Polyfills are a set of codes used in JavaScript to provide functions on older browsers that do not support newer features. Minimizing the usage of polyfills can greatly help the response time of your website. Only leave out the necessary polyfills for a great user experience design.

Optimize CSS Codes

Cascading style sheets, more commonly known as CSS, are a coding language used for the aesthetic design of a website. CSS is often used to describe the design of the website, including the color grading, fonts, and layout. Minimize or compress any unused CSS for better performance and user experience.

Use Quality Plugins

If you employ a hosting site for your website needs, make sure to use its trusted themes and plugins. There is a reason these particular themes and plugins are widely used: they are effective. Get your money’s worth by investing in the right plugins that will give positive feedback and an enjoyable user experience.

Optimize Images

Most website hosting services have their own way of optimizing images. When developing your website, be mindful of the codes that are responsible for loading images. These are usually the culprits for a slow loading time. Optimizing images can help with your display without the hassle of slow responsiveness.

Despite Google adding these Core Web Vitals, content is still the number one reason why audiences and consumers flock to your website. Never forget to develop captivating and engaging content on top of effective website performance.

The next time you strategize and create a content calendar, make sure to include a timeframe that is dedicated to web development and make sure that it complements your content. For instance, if you are selling jewelry or food – these need a gallery of photographs – make sure that your website will still have a reasonable loading time regardless of how many product images you upload.

A successful digital marketing strategy will always have web development and search engine optimization in mind. So while your creative team creates unique content, your web development team should ensure that it maximizes Google’s new algorithms.

Advanced Digital Media Services Can Help You With Optimizing Your Websites

If you are starting a business and want to go digital, you will need all the help you can get. Advanced Digital Media Services can help you understand search engine optimization and Pagespeed Optimization.

ADMS can be your go-to for content creation and web development. Having trouble on how to improve first input delay? We got you. Call us now, and we can talk about expanding your business online!

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ADMS Paul Donahue

About Paul Donahue

Paul Donahue has been in the digital marketing realm since 2009. He has an intense passion for creating a dynamic digital presence for his clients through modern websites that rank well on Google. His company’s website is Colorado’s top-ranked SEO company. Author of three books published on Amazon, he is particular about staying abreast with the constantly changing SEO and digital marketing industry trends.

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