The majority of the traffic that successful websites get come from SEO. Achieving this feat is not easy, especially since search engine companies tirelessly tweak their algorithms. This means that business owners, or their SEO specialists, need to regularly adjust their search engine optimisation strategies to maintain or improve their position on search engine results pages (SERPs).
When it comes to search algorithms, Google is notorious for always shaking things up – tirelessly making adjustments to improve user experience.
For 2021, one of the most anticipated changes in search engine optimisation is the rollout of Core Web Vitals.
To understand the impact of Core Web Vitals on SEO, you have to know what they are first.
Core Web Vitals pertain to a set of factors that the search engine giant deems essential in a website’s overall user experience. Simply put, they are on-page metrics that help determine the kind of experience users get when they visit your website.
Making Core Web Vitals ranking signals for search results is a clear indicator the Google means business when it comes to giving visitors an excellent on-page experience.
What are these so-called factors Google is using to determine page experience quality?
Safe-browsing: The site is devoid of misleading content and malicious software.
Mobile-friendly: The site is optimised for mobile devices such as tablets and mobile phones.
HTTPS: The site is using the HTTPS protocol to ensure secure browsing.
No Intrusive Interstitials: The site should not have any popup ads that block most or all of the page’s content.
Core Web Vitals: The site is fast, responsive and visually stable.
The following are the 3 important metrics under Core Web Vitals:
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
This pertains to your website’s page loading performance, specifically the time it takes for important content to display.
Remember, this is all about user experience. So, ‘important content’ refers to elements that users/visitors on your website deem essential.
For Google, the preferred LCP speed is 2.5 seconds. This means that all elements found above the fold should load within this time frame.
Fast LCP means higher rankings while a slow LCP leads to lower rankings and penalties.
First Input Delay (FID)
This metric is all about interactivity or the responsiveness of your webpage. It is the length of time between the user’s first interaction with the site and when the site responds to it.
To give you an example:
For most websites, you can fill out a ‘Contact Us’ form when you have queries. After doing this, you click the ‘submit’ button. Then, the site starts processing the request. This is what FID is – the time it takes for the site to take action after you click submit.
Ideally, the site should process the website quickly – in less than 100 ms, as per Google. What you are trying to avoid is for the user to repeatedly click the submit button because the site isn’t responding.
When the website takes too long to respond, users become frustrated. This isn’t good as it can drive them away resulting in lost leads or sales for the website.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
How stable is the website while loading? This is what CLS is all about – the website’s visual stability.
The goal is to have a low CLS which means that minimal or no elements on the page should move around or appear as it loads.
When the layout is unstable, users may end up clicking things by mistake. They also have to re-learn the location of elements when the page fully loads which can be annoying for many.
For CLS, you should work towards having a score that’s close to zero.
The more stable the site, the happier visitors would be. They would stay longer on your website and chances are high that they’d even go back.
Expected to be rolled out mid-June this year, the Core Web Vitals update is going to impact search rankings. It is still unknown though whether its effect is going to be significant or subtle.
Some people, including Google executives, say that this change is not going to be disruptive nor would it cause a lot of difficulties for website owners.
For one, it is just one of the many ranking signals that Google uses. Furthermore, the search engine giant claims that their aim is still to show the most relevant content on SERPs. Hence, if your website doesn’t offer the best page experience but has the most useful content, then your website will still rank high on search results.
These statements from Google’s representatives are undeniably reassuring. But these shouldn’t cause you to stay lax and skip including core web vitals into your SEO strategy.
This update may not have a major effect on search results, but eventually, it’s going to shake things up. When more websites with relevant content offer excellent UX experience, you can expect the Core Web Vitals update to come into play. This means that these websites are going to have better rankings on SERPs.
Suffice to say, if you want to keep your ranking or even improve it, you cannot afford to exclude Core Web Vitals from your SEO strategies.
Keep in mind:
In the highly competitive world of SEO, you cannot ignore even just one ranking factor if you want to stay on top and achieve your goals.
Now, if you are worried about having to make big changes, you shouldn’t be if you have been optimising your website the right way. Many of the factors or metrics mentioned above are what well-optimised sites have.
To add, Google provides tools that can help you track your Core Web Vitals. They provide critical pieces of information that can help you determine the adjustments you need to make to improve your website.
In summary, Google is clearly prioritising on-page experience. Websites that are able to offer excellent on-page experience are definitely going to eventually dominate SERPs. Hence, you have to include Core Web Vitals in your overall SEO strategy now to stay ahead of the competition.
Need help improving your site’s Core Web Vitals? Talk to our SEO specialists and find out what search engine optimisation strategies you need to prepare for the Core Web Vitals update. Call us now on +353 (0) 1 960 9023 or leave a message on our website to schedule a free SEO consultation!