As always, Google’s newest update could make or break your business. We’re here to make sure that you’re ready. The change is coming in the form of metrics called Core Web Vitals (CWV). Google is going to be looking into how fast your site loads, how interactive it is & how stable it is. These will join the current metrics grouped as Page Experience Signals (PES) which are all UX statistics…these are things like mobile usability, HTTPS, pop-ups etc.
This will be going deeper than on-page text as a ranking signal. The next level, as we’ve been warning you will be all about UX. If you want some UX pointers to get your site ready, check out our 4C’s of website usability or Our UX Checklist. Google have reached a point where words are not enough, they now want to peak behind the façade & see just how good your website is to use. Let’s hope you haven’t skipped any corners.
Which rankings will be affected most?
Search results will all be changed across mobile & desktop but the rankings that will be affected the most are Google’s Top Stories… The top of search results. Previously they required sites to use AMP to hit the top of search… AMP is going in the trash. It won’t be relevant anymore. The new requirement will be a minimum threshold of Core Web Vitals. This is going to shake up ranking results.
When is the update?
“Sometime this year” is all we have so far. The pandemic has pushed back the algorithm’s release & the are giving us all some time to get ready. We have been informed that a 6-month notice will be issued before the change takes place.
How much is going to change?
It’s not likely to flip you world upside down but it is another significant change in the minimum requirements to be competitive online. If you make no changes, you are only getting closer to the bottom of the barrel. Google have said that pages that fall beneath these CWV thresholds are 25% more likely to bounce. Again, CWVs are all about User Experience. Focus on how good you site is to use.
If you ignored the links above, here they are again:
What makes up the Core Web Vitals?
It’s super technical boring talk so we’ll be quick & summarise.
Largest contentful paint (LCP) How fast does it load?
Technically called the largest contentful paint (LCP). It asks how fast does this page load. Simple. Think render time, buffering, large images, video, text etc.
This can be effected by your server time, CSS, JS & other factors.
Make sure that your website host uses a Content Distribution Network. We do.
Cumulative layout shift (CLS) Is the page stable?
Ok. Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). You know those websites where you think it’s loaded, head to click an element then boom it switches and you click the wrong thing… thats an unstable page. A poor user experience. This step is Google looking for unexpected layout shifts.
This is mostly created by images that aren’t defined in the HTML.
First input delay (FID) How quickly does it react?
The final area that contributes to the Core Web Vitals is first input delay (FID). How fast does the browser start processing clicks on page elements?
Fixing your CWV Issues…
Google have made it super easy to measure, identify & fix any problems your site has. It will be in the Google Search Console. You’ll notice the new report aptly labelled Core Web Vitals. They will list all the URLs from your site in their index & tell you how each page scores. (Poor, Needs Improvement or Good).
If you have URLs that are poor or needs improvement, that’s when you want to investigate and find out what’s wrong and how you can improve those pages. Every report in Search Console links to a report in Page Speed Insights. This is probably the number-one tool you want to use to diagnose your problems with Core Web Vitals.
So, that’s what is coming. I hope you understand Core Web Vitals a bit better. This is happening some time this year. Get ready. At least sign up for Google Search Console & see how your site is doing. If you need any help, just drop me an email & I’ll be happy to help. (firstname.lastname@example.org)