Google makes changes to its algorithms every week. Some changes are significant, some are small. Many happen without us noticing. But every so often, Google announces the changes before it rolls them out.
This is usually to give website owners the chance to make necessary changes to their website so that it isn’t negatively impacted by the algorithm update. (And maybe to keep SEO folk off their back just a tad).
Last year (2020), Google announced that it was going to include Core Web Vitals as a ranking signal. This means that Core Web Vitals will become one of several metrics used to evaluate the overall user experience of a web page.
Google takes a lot of factors into consideration when ranking a page, from content relevancy to backlinks. But recently, the search engine giant has been highlighting the importance of user experience.
As of May 2021, when the update rolls out, Google’s page experience signals will consist of the following metrics: Core Web Vitals, Mobile-friendliness, Safe-browsing, HTTPS-security and Intrusive interstitial guidelines.
What Are Core Web Vitals?
But what exactly are core web vitals?
Well, according to Google, core web vitals are the metrics related to speed, responsiveness and visual stability. This includes:
- Largest contentful paint (LCP) – which is the length of time it takes for a web page’s main content to load, whether it is a paragraph, image or video content.
- First input delay (FID) – which is about the reactiveness of a web page and measures the length of time it takes for a page to successfully become interactive.
- Cumulative layout shift (CLS) – which measures the stability of the elements and features visible on a web page.
Although Google has confirmed that these three factors are the current Core Web Vitals, they haven’t ruled out future changes. It is expected that the core web vitals will change over time based on what users expect from web sites.
Can Core Web Vitals Affect My Rankings?
Yes. As mentioned, core web vitals are part of the page experience ranking signal. By adding them as a ranking factor, Google is aiming to help web site owners create websites that people enjoy visiting.
If your website content doesn’t load quickly or isn’t responsive to a web user – they will leave pretty sharpish. And they’ll head to a website that meets their needs quickly and effectively.
Google, like all search engines, aims to provide the very best user experience for its web users. So, if web users are leaving your website due to poor user experience, you are sure to slip down the rankings.
When it comes to the three core web vitals listed above, Google has given an indication of what is expected from websites.
For example, if your web page’s main content takes longer than 2.5 seconds to load, this may be considered slow in terms of LCP. Similarly, you should aim to have an FID score that’s less than 100 milliseconds to satisfy web users (and Google). Plus, the CLS score should remain lower than 0.1 to be considered good.
It is important to remember that core web vitals are one of many metrics used by Google to rank your website. Even if your website provides an excellent user experience, it may still rank poorly due to other factors.
For example, lack of relevant content, low-quality backlinks, increase in local competition and lack of voice search optimisation are all factors that can negatively impact your rankings.
How Do I Measure Core Web Vitals?
If you’re not experienced in SEO, the idea of making changes to satisfy metrics and algorithm updates can be daunting. But you don’t have to be an expert to measure core web vitals.
Google Search Console features a new Core Web Vitals Report tool that will outline which of your URLs are good, which are poor and which need improvements.
If the core web vitals need improving, you can try to do this yourself. There are a lot of resources and helpful guides on the Moz blog, Neil Patel blog and other websites, such as Search Engine Journal – these will provide helpful tips and guidance for making changes to your website.
However, without knowledge or experience, improving your website for search engines can be challenging. Rather than attempting it yourself, you could seek help from an SEO expert (like ourselves).
Can We Help?
GrowTraffic is an award-winning digital marketing agency located in Lancashire and Yorkshire – but we help clients across the UK. We specialise in SEO but offer a wide range of digital marketing services including content marketing, social media management, PPC and email marketing.
If you would like to rank higher on Google, we can help. Our experienced team have a wealth of knowledge and experience in all things SEO – and we stay up to date on all algorithm changes.