In Google’s words, Core Web Vitals represent:
A set of real-world, user-centered metrics that quantify key aspects of the user experience. They measure dimensions of web usability such as load time, interactivity, and the stability of content as it loads.
Or, to put it more concretely, Core Web Vitals are how Google quantifies and scores a particular web page’s user experience, which is why the incorporation of CWV into Google’s ranking factors is known as the Page Experience Update.
So what exactly are the factors?
Google uses 3 metrics as their Core Web Vitals to gauge how good a page’s user experience is:
How long does it take for my site to load up?
How long until I can use the site?
How comfortable am I using this website?
Putting it bluntly, Core Web Vitals matter because Google is going to start using them as a ranking factor after the Page Experience update.
So why is Google using Core Web Vitals as part of the Page Experience Update?
When looked at together, these 3 metrics give you (and Google) an idea of how delightful or frustrating it is for an actual human to use your pages. And Google’s end goal is to provide people with the best possible experience when they search for something online.
And that includes the experience they have on the pages that Google recommends in its search results.
With the news that Google will be using Core Web Vitals as a ranking factor, you’re likely thinking "why are they doing this? What’s the point?"
To understand why Core Web Vitals matter so much to Google (and, therefore, you), you should understand Google’s ultimate goal: provide people with the best possible experience when searching for things online, whether it’s a product, a piece of content or some information.
It starts, obviously with recommending the best and most relevant content that answers the user’s question.
However, it doesn’t end with just how well Google is able to find relevant content. They want to make sure the pages and websites they recommend are also giving Google’s users the best possible experience.
You should look at the Page Experience Update, therefore, as the next step in Google’s continuing evolution in giving its users the overall best (in Google’s opinion at least) online experience.
In this section, we’ll get into the details of how Google’s search algorithm has changed and evolved to improve people’s online experience.
Early updates: fighting spam tactics
As Google took over the online search market, website owners and marketers at the same time began to look for ways they could manipulate Google’s algorithm to quickly and easily drive traffic to their sites. They used a lot of SEO techniques and strategies(known as "black hat" SEO) that worked but violated Google’s webmaster guidelines.
The result was content appearing high in search results that was of low quality and not completely relevant to the searcher’s query. Essentially, Google had a spam problem.
In order to fight this spam and improve the experience people had with Google’s search engine, they’ve released three major updates known as "Panda" and “Penguin”.
There had been other spam-fighting updates both before and after Panda and Penguin, but these two represent the early major steps in Google’s path toward providing the best possible experience for searchers.
In these cases, those steps were about reducing the amount of spammy sites that it recommended in search results.
Read our full breakdown of Panda and Penguin for the full details on what these two updates were all about.
Moving toward better, more relevant and trustworthy answers
For the past half decade or so, Google’s updates have further pushed them down the path of prioritizing their users’ overall experience with their search engine. Instead of seeking to punish websites that use black hat SEO and other web spam, they have instead sought to promote and highlight more relevant and higher quality content.
This may sound like it’s not much of a difference, but it’s actually a pretty important distinction because it determines how you should go about building your website, creating your content and promoting yourself online.
We can group some updates into what we call "answer engine updates", meaning they dealt with Google’s ability to understand and answer their users’ specific questions:
"Delighting" web users
Finally, we can also talk about a group of Google updates that seek to promote pages that, in their words, "delight" the people who use them. In this context, “delight” refers to people finding a page fast, simple and easy to use.
Then moving on to the "answer engine"/relevance/quality updates:
There have also been numerous "broad core algorithm updates" along the way. These updates, according to Google, are focused on making sure search results are recommending the best websites and content to searchers.
We’ve only touched on the major Google updates in this piece, focusing on these changes as examples of Google’s ongoing priority of providing the best possible online experience for their (and, ultimately, your) users. Whether they’re doing that by fighting spam, better interpreting search intent and relevance, or more technical aspects of UX, the goal is the same.
Core Web Vitals, and the Page Experience Update, are really just the next step toward that goal. In fact, since Core Web Vitals are based on real-world user expectations and frustrations, you should see their introduction as an opportunity to quantify the "delightfulness" of your site.
The WooRank Assistant helps identify issues on a page-by-page basis and has recently been updated to include the three CWV checks, helping you to ensure your users have a great on-page experience.