Google's Core Web Vitals

With the news back in November that Google will be including Core Web Vitals as a ranking signal in May 2021, we want to help you get ready for what will be a significant change to how Google works. It’s not often that Google announces updates, so we know it’s a big one!

What are Core Web Vitals?

Google announced the introduction of Core Web Vitals in mid-2020 and have been regularly updating the industry and the tools they offer to support the impending inclusion of these metrics in their algorithms. But, what do Core Web Vitals and their inclusion as a ranking factor really mean?

Broadly, Google has made the decision to combine some existing search signals:

  • Mobile-friendliness

  • Safe browsing

  • HTTPS security

  • Intrusive interstitial guidelines (a focus on how users easily access content on mobile)

Together with Core Web Vital metrics:

  • Loading

  • Interactivity

  • Visual Stability

The goal in combining the above is to form a "Page Experience" ranking signal, or, to put it simply, an indication of how users perceive the experience of a web page.

This new Page Experience signal aims to answer questions such as: can I browse the page easily on a mobile device? Is the page safe and secure? Does it load quickly? Can I easily engage with the web pages content?

The better a user’s experience is across these factors, the more chance a web page has to rank.

Core Web Vitals ranking signals

"The page experience signal measures aspects of how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page. Optimizing for these factors makes the web more delightful for users across all web browsers and surfaces, and helps sites evolve towards user expectations on mobile. We believe this will contribute to business success on the web as users grow more engaged and can transact with less friction."

Google, May 2020

For those that want more detail, the definition and minimum ideal metrics for Core Web Vitals are:

  • Loading - Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) - The time it takes for a page’s main content to load. An ideal LCP measurement is 2.5 seconds or faster.

  • Interactivity - First Input Delay (FID) - The time it takes for a page to become interactive. An ideal measurement is less than 100 ms.

  • Visual Stability - Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) - The amount of unexpected layout shift of visual page content. An ideal score is less than 0.1.

Many of you will have seen Core Web Vitals and the above terms referenced in your Google Search Console account already.

While it isn’t a metric that will impact your score today, we urge you to spend time reviewing the results for your site, updating pages where necessary and testing any changes. You might also want to speak to your web agency or development team as some changes are likely to require their technical assistance.

Good Content should always be your focus

Google considers a number of ranking signals, so while page experience will be important, if you don’t have good, relevant content you’re unlikely to outrank a competitor.

"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, May 2020

You will still need to focus on great content, as Adam Guerin, WooRank’s Director of SEO, stated in an SEO at Home webinar from October 2020:

"Great content is your key to SEO. It's the one factor that you get to control 100%. You can't control traffic, backlinks or even all of your technical factors - but content you can. It also happens to be the one factor Google has always looked at the most. I've seen poorly designed websites still outrank newer ones because the content was simply better."

Adam Guerin, October, 2020

Page Experience is part of the overall puzzle, but it’s going to become important and, if applied correctly, could give you a competitive advantage.

What next?

Over the course of the next couple of months, we will be providing further guidance and actionable advice so you can prepare yourself for May’s update. We are also working hard to incorporate a simple-to-use and actionable tool within WooRank for you.

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