Core Web Vitals: The Next Official Google Ranking Factor
Although Google itself has pointed out that “great page experience doesn’t override having great page content,” it is finally taking notice of the fact that web users prefer sites that work properly and are easy to navigate. Google’s ranking factors that are used to determine the order in which search results appear are constantly changing, and this spring will see a major update to its Page Experience metrics that treat Core Web Vitals much like SEO rankings.
What Are Core Web Vitals?
Simply put, Core Web Vitals describe the overall experience visitors to your site have. No one enjoys waiting ten seconds for a page to load, not being able to find what they’re looking for because the site is poorly organized, or trying to navigate a website that has not been optimized for mobile users on a phone. These problems, as well as many smaller issues with website design and functionality, can lead to high bounce rates as visitors decide using the site is not worth their time or not allowing them to accomplish what they were trying to do.
These negative user experiences currently only affect website owners once users actually visit the site and make negative decisions, but Google will soon be stepping in to make pages that are easier to use easier to find in the first place.
Google Page Experience Will Reward Pages with Strong Core Web Vitals
As of June 2021, Google Page Experience will expand its page ranking methods to include the quality of your website itself in addition to the quality of your content. While previous SEO strategies mostly considered your use of relevant keywords and quality writing, Google’s newest update will take into consideration the overall experience visitors to your site have that goes beyond your actual website content.
Because Google’s goal is to help searchers find what they are looking for with as little effort as possible, the company is constantly searching for new ways to make sure each first page of search results is comprised of the highest quality and most relevant results. Now that SEO rankings have changed how results are sorted based on the relevance and quality of content, Google aims to apply a similar ranking method to three distinct elements of how site users perceive the functionality and quality of your website in comparison to others.
Beginning in June 2021, Google’s algorithm will include three aspects of your website in its rankings: its loading time, its interactivity, and its visual stability. Each of these categories will be scored as good, needs improvement, or poor based on a particular metric, which will be combined with SEO analytics to determine your website’s overall search ranking.
Loading time will be scored based on Largest Contentful Paint, or LCP, which is the amount of time it takes for your main website content to load. Websites that load within 2.5 seconds will be considered good in this category, pages that take longer than 4 seconds will receive a poor score, and sites that fall in-between will be ranked as needs improvement.
Interactivity will be scored based on First Input Delay, or FID, which is the amount of time it takes for your entire website to load and be fully functional. Good scores fall below 100 milliseconds, while poor scores take more than 300 milliseconds.
Visual stability will be scored based on Cumulative Layout Shift, or CLS, which identifies whether your page distracts users by moving itself around. Good CLS scores fall below 0.1, while poor scores are above 0.25.
Although loading time, interactivity, and visual stability will not take precedence over your website content, these metrics can have enough of an impact to affect how your page stacks up against other search results that rank close to it. According to Google’s current analytics, customers are approximately 24 percent less likely to leave sites that already meet these goals.
How Will the Google Page Experience Update Affect My Rankings?
Although you should always be striving to improve your site visitors’ user experience to boost their impression of your brand, Google’s latest update will directly impact where your website appears in search results based on Core Web Vitals. Websites that take forever to load, annoy users with too many popups, are not well organized, or are otherwise poorly designed already discourage users from returning to your site in the future or even finishing what they are currently doing. However, Google is about to take this effect a step further by automatically pushing these websites lower in search results.
Positive Effects of Core Web Vitals
Websites that receive good scores in all three categories will likely see a boost in their overall site rankings. A higher ranking will increase the number of people that notice and visit your page, especially if it moves your site to the first page of search results or to the top of it. Decreasing your page load time and making other improvements to your page to get higher scores will also create more repeat customers as site visitors find what they are looking for quickly and easily, which boosts their impressions of both your website and your brand’s commitment to strong customer service.
Drawbacks of Core Web Vitals
Although Google’s expansion to include Core Web Vitals in its algorithms will likely have many of the same positive effects of regular SEO strategies, it will probably also come with similar drawbacks. Especially early on, many website owners that do not take the time to optimize their Core Web Vitals will see a significant drop in site traffic as their pages quickly become more difficult to find.
How Can I Improve My Search Rankings?
Much like early SEO rollouts required site owners to adjust their keyword use and website content, there are several steps you can take to make sure your Core Web Vitals will not negatively impact where your site appears in search results before the update takes effect in June 2021. Google’s Search Console now includes data about your current Core Web Vitals that can be used as a starting point for zeroing in on what elements of your site need to be improved, even though this information does not officially impact your rankings yet.
Testing and adjusting your page load times, interactivity, and visual stability, as well as optimizing your website for mobile users that encompass approximately 50 percent of web traffic, can help you make sure your website is ready to go well in advance of Google’s latest algorithm taking effect.
At Future Holidays, we are here to help you optimize your website to keep up with Google’s latest update. We can help you design, build, or move to a quality site that exceeds Google’s expectations, as well as assist with email marketing, eCommerce growth, and other user experience metrics that Google does not specifically measure to further improve your page visitors’ impression of your website. Contact us today to learn more about how working with us can help your website earn three good scores from Google and improve its search ranking!