Update 16/11/21 – Currently, Google’s Core Web Vitals ranking factor only applies to the mobile search engine results pages (SERPs). However, this is about to change! Due to be rolled out to desktop search results in February next year, the user experience ranking factors are expected to be the same as for mobile (minus the ‘Mobile Friendliness’ score of course). This makes Core Web Vitals more relevant (and vital!) than ever before – and Google will be updating Search Console to help website owners prepare for the update in due course.
Google announced back in May 2020 that they were going to add yet another ranking factor to the mix: Core Web Vitals. But what does this mean for your online business? We’re cutting through the noise and breaking down exactly what you need to know, without all the technical jargon!
From June 2021 Google will take into account how well users can interact with your website – in other words, the user experience. Known as Core Web Vitals, these will encompass a number of metrics such as page load speed, how secure your website is, and whether your website has any loading issues such as annoying pop ups or ‘jumpy’ content.
Set to come into effect later this year (June to be exact), if your website is slow to load or you haven’t tailored your site and content to be mobile-friendly, then now is definitely the time to do something about it. If you don’t, your website could be viewed unfavourably by Google and run the risk of your website becoming less visible in search results. As Google’s opinion is often the one that matters, you certainly don’t want that to happen to you!
What are the Core Web Vitals?
Core Web Vitals include metrics that give scores on user-centred aspects of your pages including load time, interactivity, and the stability of content as it loads. There are three metrics that you need to look out for. While they look a little technical, they hold the key to unlocking a much better user experience for your customers.
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP):
In spite of the name, Largest Contentful Paint has nothing to do with painting! This metric is all about first impressions; it measures how quickly your largest content element loads on the page, which is most likely a feature image.
Most of us have felt the frustration of waiting for a painstakingly slow piece of content to load, leaving you with a rubbish first impression of the website. With Google’s new LCP metric you can easily find out if your website is not performing as quickly as it should. This means you can do something about it and get back to wowing users as soon as they land on your page with content that loads fast.
First Input Delay (FID):
First Input Delay relates to certain types of web content such as live chat, email pop-ups and video. It measures how long it takes for your browser to respond to a user’s first click or interaction on your website.
Essentially, you want to make sure that your pop-ups load quickly and at a time that is convenient for the user. Useful techniques can be deployed to ensure a tool such as a live chat only renders once the full page has loaded.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS):
Have you ever been on a website, gone to click something and all of a sudden everything moves and you’ve clicked on the wrong thing? Cumulative Layout Shift is designed to measure just that. In other words, it measures how stable your visual content is.
What does this mean for your online business?
User experience has always been an important part in shaping a user’s online journey however now it’s becoming an official ranking factor for search algorithms. We are really pleased to see search engines put more emphasis on user experience and hope this will make the web a better place for everyone.
In essence, your approach should always be to optimise your online business for humans, not search engines. That is what will increase traffic, sales and leads. It can be tempting to get caught up in Google ranking factors and metrics, but customers are the people you really need to impress!
Google maintains that while Core Web Vitals will have an impact on rankings, they are still lower down the pecking order than the quality of information and content you provide across your website:
“While page experience is important, Google still seeks to rank pages with the best information overall, even if the page experience is subpar. Great page experience doesn’t override having great page content. However, in cases where there are many pages that may be similar in relevance, page experience can be much more important for visibility in Search.” – From Understanding page experience in Google Search results in Google Search Central.
Cleaning up your Core Web Vitals should mean people are more likely to stay on your website and take a look around – but make sure you put just as much effort into producing quality, helpful content which your readers will love and want to stay for!
If you’re running an online business and wondering whether these Core Web Vitals are as ‘vital’ as they sound, the answer is YES. It’s important to remember that ALL web vitals need to be met in order to benefit from the potential boost in rankings.
While we don’t yet know how important this ranking factor will be or how much it could impact your online business’s SEO value, we will be keeping a close eye on any noticeable changes.
If you’re not sure how to effectively implement the necessary Core Web Vitals changes to your website or don’t have time, our friendly digital marketing team at Echo are on hand to help. Contact us today to book a free, friendly consultation for your online business.
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