Google will soon be including Core Web Vitals in their search ranking algorithm, in an effort to prioritize pages with a great user experience. For publishers who run ads on their sites, Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) has understandably been an area of concern.
CLS measures how much the elements on a page shift while the page loads, and running ads on a page can negatively impact this score.
Our mission at AdThrive is to build a creator-first future and part of that means helping to future-proof your business — all the way from major industry upheavals to incremental search ranking updates. So it was important for us to find a way to solve the issue of ad-related CLS.
Our ad code team has been hard at work testing various configurations and has found a cutting-edge solution!
With this industry-first innovation, we’ve completely redesigned the AdThrive Ads WordPress plugin to solve for CLS related to ads — and preserve the top ad revenue you enjoy at AdThrive!
AdThrive Ads plugin reduces ad-related CLS
With our AdThrive Ads plugin version 1.0.45 and higher, you’ll see the option to reduce ad-related CLS:
Just check that box and then clear your site’s cache for the setting to take effect (or give it about 24 hours for the update to roll out naturally), and you’re all set! Your CLS score should improve immediately, though it may take a few days for this to be reflected in the various Core Web Vitals measurement tools.
This setting does two crucial things:
First, it moves our ad insertion from a third-party request to live directly on the page via the plugin. This allows us to reserve space for ads as the page is being rendered, reducing ad-related CLS issues.
Second, it will apply a styling update to your ad spaces, setting a minimum height, to reduce page shift when ads refresh and, potentially, a different ad size serves in the ad slot.
If you’re not running the AdThrive Ads plugin, you can use the CLS setting on the Ad Preferences page in your dashboard to set minimum heights for your ad spaces for now. We are working on additional ad code enhancements to further solve ad-related CLS issues for sites not running our plugin.
Keep in mind that, while our plugin solution reduces ad-related CLS on your site, other non-ad elements on your site may affect your score. Check out our four-step playbook for how to diagnose and improve Core Web Vitals on your site, to identify and fix any non-ad CLS offenders.
Chrome 90 will further improve your CLS score
By turning on our CLS solution today, your site should get an immediate reduction in ad-related layout shift.
Then, you should see your score continue to improve over the coming weeks.
The most recent version of Chrome (Chrome 89) currently counts some elements toward CLS which shouldn’t be considered, including sticky video players and sticky footer ads. Google is planning to release an update to Chrome in mid-April (Chrome 90), which should fix these issues and cause your CLS score to improve, as Chrome users update to the new version.
With our plugin solution, and as more users update to Chrome 90, your ads should have a minimal or no impact on your CLS score. If you’ve additionally optimized your site to solve any non-ad CLS issues, you should have no problem achieving a CLS score in the “good” range!
After enabling the CLS optimization setting and clearing your site’s cache, the next logical step is to check your CLS score — but we recommend giving your site at least a day or two to build up the new data.
You can see your CLS scores in near real-time using Cloudflare’s Browser Insights, or with a two-day delay in Google Search Console’s Core Web Vitals report.
If you run a test using PageSpeed Insights, focus on the field data. This reflects real visitors’ experience on your site, and your CLS score should slowly improve day by day, as it shows your average score over the past 28 days.
As you test different pages on your site and work to improve CLS, focus first on mobile experience and scores. Google puts a strong emphasis on mobile, so prioritize your optimizations for mobile and then desktop.
We know you’ve been hoping for a solution to ad-related CLS, and we are thrilled to roll out this innovative update that will allow you to continue earning the top revenue you expect from partnering with AdThrive, while preserving your search rankings and giving your readers the absolute best experience on your site.