With the recent inclusion of Interaction to Next Paint (INP) in Google Search Console (GSC) reports, understanding and analyzing this metric has become crucial for website operators. INP is a component of Google's Core Web Vitals and provides essential data on user experience and website performance.
This guide will analyze INP reports using GSC, providing valuable insights on website load time, responsiveness, and visual stability. Navigating this new feature may initially seem complex, but one can significantly improve their website's overall performance with a clear understanding and effective use of INP tracking.
Interaction to Next Paint (INP) is a critical metric that measures the responsiveness and interactivity of websites. It evaluates the time it takes for a user's input, such as clicking a button or tapping a link, to trigger a visual response on the screen.
In March 2024, Google plans to replace First Input Delay with INP as one of the core web vital metrics, emphasizing its significance in website performance evaluation.
Google is going ahead with this update as they admit the constraints of FID in fully capturing the user experience. FID only accounts for the initial interaction and measures solely the first input delay; INP delivers a broader understanding by monitoring every page interaction from start to finish.
A fast INP ensures a smooth and seamless browsing experience. It allows users to navigate the site effortlessly, interact with various elements, and accomplish their intended actions without delays.
Website owners should take note of Interaction to Next Paint in their performance monitoring efforts, especially during the transition from FID to INP. Monitoring INP allows you to identify potential areas of improvement in terms of interactivity and responsiveness.
Read our guide to learn about Interaction to Next Paint and the optimal INP score you should optimize your website.
The INP measurement starts when a user interacts with the website by clicking a button or entering text and ends when the browser renders the next frame. Hence, it includes the time taken for input, processing, and presentation delays. But how is this measured exactly?
Measuring the INP involves timing each component separately, then adding them together.
1. The input delay can be measured using the Event Timing API, which gives the delay between when an event was created and when it could start being processed.
3. The presentation delay, or render time, can be measured using the Paint Timing API or a performance monitor. It measures the browser's time to repaint the screen following user interaction.
Several key metrics and indicators are associated with INP.
1. Input Processing Time (IPT): IPT measures the duration between a user initiating interaction and the browser processing that input. A shorter IPT signifies a more responsive website, indicating that the underlying technology quickly recognizes and processes user actions.
2. Time to Interactive (TTI): It quantifies the time required for a webpage to become fully interactive and ready for users to engage with its features and content.
When evaluating Interaction to Next Paint, a good score is typically characterized by low values for IPT and TTI. However, it is important to note that specific benchmarks for a good score may vary based on website complexity, user expectations, and industry standards.
To effectively identify Interaction to Next Paint using GSC, it is crucial to have a GSC account set up for your website. If you have not done so already, you can follow our comprehensive GSC guide to learn more about GSC and how to add your website to the platform.
Let us explore accessing and analyzing the INP data report using Google Search Console.
As mentioned, Google will replace First Input Delay (FID) with INP as a new CWV metric starting in March 2024. As a proactive measure, Google has begun providing the INP data report in GSC, allowing website owners to optimize their sites for INP before it becomes a crucial factor in page performance.
Here are the steps to access your INP report in Google Search Console:
1. Sign in to your Google Search Console account.
2. Select your website property from the GSC dashboard.
3. Click on the Core Web Vitals section in the left-hand menu.
4. You will see the report for both mobile & desktop. Click on Open Report to access the report.
Once you have accessed the INP report, you will find a table displaying valuable information. This table includes details such as the severity of the issue, the type of issue, whether validation has been initiated, and the number of affected URLs.
When examining the INP data in GSC, you can identify specific pages or URLs with poor INP scores. GSC provides a group of URLs associated with each issue, enabling you to click on them and gain insights into the affected URLs.
If you discover INP issues within the report, it is recommended to start optimizing your website to improve INP before March 2024, when it becomes a vital CWV metric.
Learn how to optimize your website for INP update.
However, if no INP issues are detected, Google will indicate that "No INP Issue Detected," giving you confidence in your website's performance for the upcoming update.
In specific scenarios, GSC may not report any Interaction to Next Paint (INP) value. It can occur due to various reasons:
1. User Inactivity: When a page is loaded, but the user does not click, tap, or press any key on their keyboard, no INP value will be recorded. For example, if a user lands on a page and immediately leaves without interacting with any elements, no INP value will be reported.
2. Gesture-based Interactions: Interactions, such as scrolling, hovering over elements, or using gestures on touch devices (e.g., swiping), are not considered for calculating the INP value.
3. Bot Access: If the page is accessed by a bot, such as a search crawler, it may not trigger the necessary user interactions required for calculating INP.
Recently, Google has sent email notifications to website owners about detecting Core Web Vitals INP issues on their sites. The email from Google highlights the transition to a new metric called Interaction to Next Paint (INP), which will replace First Input Delay (FID) as a Core Web Vital in March 2024.
The email states that Google Search Console has identified INP issues in the properties associated with the website. It encourages site owners to click on the listed properties to open the INP report for each property. However, the number of properties listed may be limited to a maximum of 10.
Here is a screenshot of the site's INP report from Google Search Console:
If you receive a notification from Google that Search Console has detected INP issues in your site, the first thing to do is not panic. It is because these issues are not the sole determinants of your Google search rankings. Relevance remains the most significant factor that Google considers.
Here's what you need to do if you have received this notification:
1. Analyze The Report: First, click on the property to open the INP report. Understand what exactly the issue is and where it lies.
2. Consult Your Dev Team: Next, contact your developer team. Share the report with them and discuss the necessary technical changes that need to be made to fix the issue.
3. Prioritize Changes: As mentioned earlier, you have months to improve your INP score. Tackle the changes one at a time, prioritizing those that can be fixed quickly.
4. Monitor Progress: After the changes have been made, keep an eye on your INP score to see if there has been any improvement. If not, you might need to delve deeper into the issue.
5. Keep Providing Valuable Content: Regardless of your INP or other core web vital scores, continue to provide useful and meaningful content to your users. It is the ultimate key to a higher ranking on Google search.
It is important to remember INP is only one aspect of the page experience. Google uses other signals as part of its core ranking system to determine what makes a good page experience.
Understanding and optimizing your Interaction to Next Paint is crucial to enhancing user experience and potentially improving SEO performance. Google Search Console is an effective tool for identifying and analyzing your website's INP, allowing you to make necessary adjustments to improve your website's performance.
In addition to GSC, tools like Quattr can offer advanced analytics to help significantly improve your page experience metrics, providing a more comprehensive approach to website optimization.
Common errors in analyzing INP reports with GSC often involve neglecting data normalization, misunderstanding measurement timelines, and failing to consider varying device performances. Users also commonly overlook the impact of slow network conditions or server response times on INP measurements.
There are a few other tools that can provide valuable insights. Lighthouse, PageSpeed Insights, ChromeDev and SEO platforms like Quattr offer detailed performance reports, including INP-related metrics.
While FCP & LCP focus on visual loading milestones, INP measures the time it takes for a page to become fully interactive, allowing users to engage with the content & perform actions. INP goes beyond visual rendering, ensuring a smooth and responsive user experience for optimal engagement.
The frequency of monitoring Interaction to Next Paint (INP) in Google Search Console (GSC) can depend on several factors, including the size of your website, the amount of traffic you receive, and any changes or updates you've made to the site. However, checking these metrics at least once a month or weekly for larger or more dynamic sites is often recommended. If you have recently made significant changes to your website, it may be beneficial to monitor INP more frequently.
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