It’s no secret that Google’s algorithms can be, well, pretty secretive. Everybody knows that Google has specific things it looks for when deciding how to rank the pages that show up in its search engine results pages (SERPs). Although you may not be able to get under the hood of Google completely, so to speak, there are some things you can do to inform the way you create content in a way that optimizes your visibility.
This is where Core Web Vitals come into play.
In Google’s May 2021 core algorithm update, the search giant will consider Core Web Vitals as a ranking factor for all websites. Knowing what Core Web Vitals are and how to prepare your website for Google’s upcoming update can help you get ready for the forthcoming changes. Let’s dive into what Core Web Vitals are and why it’s important to work with a professional marketing and website development company to ensure your brand doesn’t incur negative results from Google’s upcoming changes. If you’ve been wondering how to rank on Google, this is one update you really need to pay attention to.
What Are Core Web Vitals and Why Are They Important?
Core Web Vitals are sets of particular factors that Google takes into consideration when it’s determining the overall website page experience a webpage offers. Core Web Vitals are made up of three specific elements that relate to page speed and user interactions:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP). How long it takes a page to load from the point of view of the person who’s actually using it. This metric tells Google how long it takes for people to see most of your page’s content after they click a link. Your LCP should take place within 2.5 seconds of someone landing on the page.
- First Input Delay (FID). The time it takes for someone actually to interact with your page. For example, choosing an option from a menu, clicking on a link in the navigation field, or opening up accordion text on their mobile devices. Your FID should happen within 100 milliseconds.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). This describes how stable a page is as it loads. It’s also called visual stability. Pages should reflect a Cumulative Layout Shift of no more than 0.1.
Basically, each of these elements is a subset of factors contributing to Google’s page experience score. In other words, Google measures up your site’s overall value, and this is the time to improve user experience (UX).
When Google makes its algorithm changes this upcoming spring, Core Web Vitals will become an important part of the search engine’s ranking factor, pairing with the site’s consideration of HTTPS, mobile-friendliness, lack of interstitial pop-ups, and “safe-browsing” capabilities. Granted, having a great page experience score won’t automatically make you the number one result on the SERPs, but it’s certainly going to be considered when Google has a core algorithm update. Just as having a mobile responsive website became vital a few years ago (and is even more important today), paying attention to this upcoming update can make or break the way the search engine views your business.
Core Web Vitals are important to your ranking factors because they signal to Google just how user-friendly your website is. The better the user experience you offer your visitors, the more well-received your site will be. This, in turn, can boost your site in the SERPs.
How Are Website Core Web Vitals Measured?
Not too long ago, Core Web Vitals could only be measured using the Chrome UX report. However, in 2020, the search engine made changes, giving way to seven different ways these metrics can be measured:
- Search Console. Your go-to spot for all things related to your site. You can drill down on pages with similar problems to create fixes.
- PageSpeed Insights. Gives you both lab data and field data in a single report.
- Lighthouse. Offers access to numerous metrics and audits, including LCP, CLS, FID, and Total Blocking Time (TBT).
- Chrome DevTools. An extensive array of tools that will let you optimize your research and tweak your pages accordingly.
- Chrome UX Report. A public database of millions of websites, reporting real-time world data.
- Web Vitals Extension. Allows you to interact with the page to troubleshoot if you have First Input Delay or Content Layout Shift problems.
- WebPage Test. An independent testing tool that allows you to test various conditions based on individual configurations.
Each of these tools will give you insight into your Core Web Vitals, so you can start making adjustments that will be more favorable to your site once Google’s update occurs.
How Can I Improve My Core Web Vitals?
It’s important to be as prepared as possible for the upcoming Google changes. There are several ways you can optimize your Core Web Vitals, so you earn a passing grade with the search engines.
1. Optimize Images
Images can really affect your Core Web Vitals. Of all the web vitals, the loading speed of images is often the largest source of delay before a page is fully loaded.
- Reduce the dimensions of background images
- Minimize or replace background images with patterns
- Remove images on mobile above the fold
- Implement lazy loading
- Use WebP images
- Optimize file sizes
2. Optimize CSS
CSS is an important part of many site designs. It’s important to make sure your CSS code is at its very best to get the most attention from Google.
- Use inline CSS to showcase the overall design and theme of your layout
- Minify CSS
- Consolidate CSS files and code
- Optimize CSS delivery
How Do Core Web Vitals Affect SEO?
SEOs need to be aware of how Core Web Vitals affect sites. Google’s new update will impact all regular search results (on both mobile and desktop) based on the aforementioned criteria. There is no single ranking factor with Google, but paying attention to your Core Web Vitals is certainly an important piece of the puzzle. If you want to beat your competition and keep your rankings, you’ll need to follow best practices for Core Web Vitals. The better in-line your Core Web Vitals are, the better your SEO results will be in the long run. By adhering to Google’s expectations for your Core Web Vitals, you’ll improve technical SEO efforts for your future campaigns.
How Will Google’s May 2021 Search Algorithm Update Affect My Site?
The upcoming core algorithm update will be a huge change for sites that want to improve their rankings or continue to rank high on the search engines. This core update will affect many websites, although exactly how they’ll be affected and to what extent remains to be seen. It’s crucial to check your site, test your current metrics, and work to improve your site before the update takes place in May.
How Do I Get My Site Ready for Google’s May 2021 Update?
With an update this large and impactful, it’s best to work with an experienced SEO and web professional like Zero Gravity Marketing. Our team at ZGM is tasked with keeping updated on all the latest pivots and turns the web industry takes, and our skilled group of pros is ready to battle this newest update with the kind of expertise you simply won’t have if you try to go it alone. Reach out to us to learn how our services can benefit your business!