With the May 2020 core Google update finally rolled out, the last thing SEO service providers and webmasters wanted to hear was that there is another big change coming to search – especially while managing websites during the current crisis. However, they’ve decided to post about an upcoming change which will soon be a ranking signal, known as Core Web Vitals.
While Core Web Vitals, in essence, is not a new topic of conversation amongst SEO professionals and webmasters, the fact that it will soon be a ranking signal means it’s time to double down on current optimisation efforts and conduct a full website SEO audit to get websites ready for the change.
So, what are Core Web Vitals? How can you optimise your website for a better user experience? Find the answer to these questions and more below.
Googles push towards a ‘better web’
For as long as can be remembered, Google has pushed to provide the best possible experience for searchers using their platform. While they can control the design and user experience of their search engine, Google has less control once users click on a listed website and navigate away from Google.
Because of this, Google focuses on ranking signals that reward and benefit website owners that provide a beneficial user experience.
To assist in this goal of a ‘Better Web’, Google has introduced a new way of evaluating page experience in the form of Core Web Vitals. To push website owners to provide a better experience for users, they have announced to the community that this will soon become a ranking signal in their search engine.
Like a breath of fresh air, due to the current state of things and COVID-19, the rollout of Core Web Vitals has been pushed back to 2021 at the earliest. In a statement from Google:
A note on timing:
We recognize many site owners are rightfully placing their focus on responding to the effects of COVID-19. The ranking changes described in this post will not happen before next year, and we will provide at least six months notice before they’re rolled out.
We’re providing the tools now to get you started (and because site owners have consistently requested to know about ranking changes as early as possible), but there is no immediate need to take action.
– Director of Engineering for Search Ecosystem at Google Webmasters
This is great news for business owners and webmasters as the focus is currently being and should continue being placed on managing and marketing your business during COVID-19.
There’s no real surprise to this move for webmasters, website developers and search marketing professionals as Google has continually explained that website owners should focus on good quality content, quality rater guidelines and E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness). This is just another sign that Google is understanding the trends of the time, similar to when they moved towards mobile-first indexing which finished rolling out earlier this year.
What Are Core Web Vitals?
In simple terms, Google sees Core Web Vitals as a way to measure the quality of user experience.
While understanding the best setup and design of a website for user experience can be difficult due to many different expectations and what users see as beneficial, some aspects should be optimised and focused on across all websites. Google identifies these as three Core Web Vitals:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): perceived load speed that measures when the page’s main content has likely loaded.
Basic explanation: The time it takes before you can read what you want to read.
- First Input Delay (FID): understands how users feel when interacting with the website and measures the responsive nature of your website.
Basic explanation: How quick and useful the website is while loading.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): a measurement of visual stability and the number of unexpected layout shifts on the visible page content.
Basic explanation: How many times the position of website elements change when loading. Eg. Trying to click a button while a slow page is loading, only for it to move, causing you to click the incorrect button.
For more detailed information on each core web vital, visit the Google Developers website.
Evaluating Core Web Vitals & User Experience
Evaluating the Core Web Vitals of your website can take a few tools to ensure you have the most accurate information. To assist, Google now has 6 different tools available to website owners.
For beginners, White Chalk Road recommend starting with the Core Web Vitals reports provided in Google Search Console to give you a quick understanding of how your website could improve. With the other tools, head to the links above and read through their supporting document for assistance in understanding the valuable data and information they provide.
What You Can Do Right Now?
It can be a time consuming and tiring task to work through the Core Web Vitals recommendations from Google Search Console, especially for larger websites. However, understanding the performance of your website and how it could be improved is important to not only rankings but the performance of your website once users arrive at it.
Before reviewing the Core Web Vitals of your website, start with the basics:
- Spend some time navigating through your website and highlighting frustrations or issues you’ve found with your site.
- Ask colleagues, friends and family to spend 15 minutes looking through your website and jotting down any issues they found or recommendations they have to improve the experience.
- Run surveys and ask questions to your past and current customers about what they liked about your website, and any recommendations they have to improve their online experience with your brand.
Improving the ease of access to information, trust signals with a secure website or embedded testimonials and reviews, even the change of a call to action button position can make a good experience into a great one.
Understanding how users navigate and use your website can assist in improving on those experiences – which is the core reason Google is adding it as a signal to their organic ranking algorithm.
To prepare your website for the Core Web Vitals algorithm change likely to happen in 2021, contact White Chalk Road now. Our professional team with conduct a full audit of your website and work with your developer to ensure your website is fast, up-to-date and built for user experience and conversions.