A new initiative from Google aims to emphasise the importance of user website experience further. From early 2021, the search giant will factor user experience (UX) signals into how your website ranks in search results. Making a positive UX more vital than ever before. The new Core Web Vitals from Google will measure three principal signals as well as the existing ranking signals.

You might be thinking, ‘another day, another Google algorithm change’. You’re not wrong. Google makes regular, even daily updates to its algorithm. Most of them are ones we don’t have to do anything about but we still benefit from them.  However, when Google wants to give website owners a heads up that they need to make changes, they make sure we hear about it.  With these Core Web Vitals, Google has announced them early to help webmasters maximise the potential they offer.

As 2021 gets started, we should see a shift in the quality of web experience from a user’s perspective. Developers will now focus on optimising sites to ensure they rank well for Core Web Vitals. As a result, pages will get faster; sites will respond better to user interactivity and, visually, sites will be more stable. 

What Are Google’s Three Core Web Vitals?

The Core Web Vitals focus on three specific elements of your sites web pages. These are loading, interactivity and visual stability.

 

  1. Loading

You will hear this referred to as Largest Contentful Paint or LCP. Basically put, it is the time that it takes for the main content of a webpage to load.

 

  1. Interactivity First

You will hear this referred to as First Input Delay or FID. In plain English, this is the time it takes for any interactive part of a page to become active. For example, the speed an ordering process of takes to start when I hit the ‘Order Now’ button on your website.  

An important note here: It is not the speed it takes for the process to complete (order to process)—only the rate between hitting that button and the process beginning.

 

  1. Visual Stability

You will hear this referred to as Cumulative Layout Shift. It refers to elements on the page moving unexpectedly. An example of this could be a website LogIn Button. Web users are accustomed to a login button being in the top right-hand corner of a page. If that button kept moving, either to another area of the page or even a smidge to the right or left the user experience deteriorates (It really is the little things that matter sometimes). What Google wants is for that button (for example) not to shift. 

For each Core Web Vital Google will grade them as one of the following:

  • Good (passes)
  • Needs Improvement
  • Fail

Keep reading for advice on how to optimise for core web vitals.

How You Can Benefit From Core Web Vitals

Better SEO – By introducing new Core Web Vitals into the web ranking suite, Google is clearly telling us that the user comes first. Nothing new there. However, what this means for businesses is that there is a chance to outshine the competition. 

Let’s look at this way – Two businesses sell precisely the same product online and have the same relevance for the user. One company ensures that it’s Core Web Vitals are up to speed (excuse the pun) and the other is slower to make improvements. In this scenario, the one with the improvements will be rewarded by Google with a better position in search results.

Here’s how Google explain it – “While all of the components of page experience are important, we will prioritize pages with the best information overall, even if some aspects of page experience are subpar. A good page experience doesn’t override having great, relevant content. However, in cases where there are multiple pages that have similar content, page experience becomes much more important for visibility in Search.”- Google Webmaster Central Blog.

 

Better User Experience – With improved loading, interactivity and visual stability, you can expect happier site users. In turn, this should mean more conversions and less bounce. Here’s why.

When a user visits your site, they want the critical information quickly. If that information doesn’t appear fast enough (be it an image or text) the user will leave. If you have a high bounce rate – this is probably one of the main reasons.

Likewise, when a user interacts with your site, they have expectations that it will respond quickly. When it doesn’t, they get frustrated and leave – sometimes getting all the way to the payment section and then quitting the purchase because of the slow speed. 

Lastly, a site with elements that move around in a way that the user doesn’t expect can appear ‘buggy’. Users will instinctively stay clear of sites that seem compromised or unstable. At the very least, users find jumpy websites annoying.

 

Will Google Only Look At Core Web Vitals? 

No, Core Web Vitals will be measured in tandem with existing signals. These signals are still important. So remember that Google likes:

  • Sites with HTTPS encryption: Google rewards websites that have HTTPS secure encryption.
  • Sites Being Mobile-friendly: Google rewards pages that have a positive mobile experience.
  • Intrusive interstitials: Google will penalise websites that use intrusive interstitials and popups. 
  • Sites that are safe: Google rewards websites that have adequate security, no malware, no harmful downloads and no phishing pages (deceptive pages).

In a nutshell: Google will rate the user experience of your web page using page experience signals that combine existing ranking signals and new Core Web Vitals.

How To Optimise For Core Web Vitals

For anyone wondering ‘how will my site rank come Spring?’ There are ways you can measure and improve your site’s performance now. 

Start by assessing where you currently rank. There are free tools available to help you check your website vitals. Such as:

These tools offer you real insights and advice that will help optimise for Core Web Vitals. For example, free tool Google PageSpeed Insights will measure the Loading speed (LCP score). It’s as simple as pasting in a webpage URL and hitting the ‘analyze’ button.  What this tool will show you is an overview of your LCP score for both mobile and desktop. It also offers suggestions on how to make improvements. These could be suggestions like, eliminate render-blocking resources or correctly size images. 

You will probably find that a number of tweaks and improvements are required as opposed to one big issue that needs fixing. If you’re ready to get started with optimising for Core Web Vitals and would like expert advise and support, contact us at ePresence today.