Google has always placed a great deal of importance on User Experience (UX). In fact, every Google algorithm update has been about ensuring the users can gain access to user-friendly, relevant results quickly.
Now, with the introduction of Core Web Vitals, UX will play a vital role in increasing organic traffic. Hence, it is important that we understand all that we can about these Core Web Vitals.
What Exactly are Core Web Vitals
For the past few years, Google has been pushing website owners to go mobile-first. Building a mobile-friendly website is now crucial to SEO success.
Taking it a step further, Google is now ready to focus on mobile performance, also known as Core Web Vitals.
This summer, we will see algorithm updates that will focus on a new ranking factor, which happens to be page experience. Google will be measuring page experience using Web Vitals metrics. Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID) and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) are the core metrics within Web Vitals.
How Will the Core Web Vitals Impact SEOs
Search engine algorithms work on helping users find the information they need while collecting data that throws light on user behaviour, which then helps them provide more relevant results.
Websites that meet searchers’ needs naturally rank higher in the search engine results and enjoy increased organic traffic. With Google focusing on improving UX, paying mind to Core Web Vitals will mean the difference between SEO success or failure.
By optimizing for the new ranking factor, one can see a drastic rise in their organic traffic. The Core Vitals report in Google Search Console will tell you exactly which pages on your website need improvements in terms of UX.
While it may all seem very technical, it is important to understand what exactly is being measured by the Core Web Vitals. To put it simply, Core Web Vitals focus on three aspects of a good UX:
These aspects are measured based on the user data from Chrome’s user experience report. You can check out the data for your website using the Google Data Studio report. This report offers detailed data on the important aspects of Core Web Vitals, along with information about usage on different devices.
The Three Main Elements of Core Web Vitals
LCP is a metric used to measure how long it takes for the largest element of a webpage to load. This metric applies to the loading of the above-the-fold content; anything beyond a user’s screen is not taken into consideration.
Overall, LCP measures images, video poster images, block-level text elements, as well as elements that come with a background image. You can measure your website’s LCP with the help of lab scoring tools like PageSpeed Insights and Lighthouse.
Ways to Optimize for LCP
Google suggests that the LCP should happen within 2.5 seconds of page loading. Anything that takes beyond 2.5 seconds to load needs improvement.
Ideally, you should be able to reduce the LCP time by doing the following:
FID is a metric used to measure a user’s first interaction, meaning the delay between the time when a person clicks on something and the time it takes for the site to respond to the action and process it. However, it only measures finite user interactions, like clicks, taps and key presses, and not continuous interactions like scrolling and zooming.
Ways to Optimize for FID
Monitoring and optimizing your site’s UX is the only way you can do well with this metric. Ideally, your site’s FID score should be no more than 100 ms. If it goes beyond that, your site’s UX needs improvement.
Try the following to improve your site’s FID score:
CLS is a metric used to measure the visual stability of your site. It checks whether there is any unexpected shifting of any of your page elements and how often it occurs.
Ways to Optimize for CLS
Generally, you should be able to avoid the unexpected items shifting by doing the following:
To understand which elements on your site are keeping you from getting a good CLS score, check out the Layout Shift GIF Generator tool.
It is a known fact that users now expect and tolerate nothing less than a seamless web experience. In order to ensure that your site delivers just that, it is essential to invest in LCP, FID and CLS improvements. After all, an improved user experience is key to higher rankings and increased organic traffic.
For help with Core Web Vitals, do get in touch with our expert team for assistance.
To understand how a user will perceive the experience of a specific web page, Google will evaluate a set of signals. This includes existing Google Search signals such as mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS, and intrusive interstitial guidelines. It also includes metrics in Google’s Web Vitals to do with a site’s loading speed, interactivity, and visual stability.
How to prepare for the Page Experience update?
For site owners and others, understanding these signals and making the necessary changes should be a priority. Among the steps to take are optimizing for mobile, improving page speeds, CTAs, and alt text for images.
You can start preparing now for user experience to become a ranking factor now. The Core Web Vitals report in Google Search Console is an excellent place to start getting a sense of how your site is performing in these areas. Alternatively, you can also make use of the PageSpeed Insights tool by Google (which is a part of our SEO Audit) to understand how your site stacks up.
How are we helping our clients with the Page Experience update?
To cope up with the update, we are already doing the below things for our clients:
We have also updated our SEO Audit Reports to bring back the Mobile and Desktop Page Speed Insights sections which are a critical part in improving the Page Speed experience for users. In addition, our Audit also shows the Website HTTPS (secure website) status which is a critical ranking factor in relation to this update.
By showing this to your clients, it presents a lucrative opportunity for you to upsell add-on services like “mobile friendly optimization”, “improving page load speed”, “making website secure”, “CTA optimization”, “landing page optimization”, etc. If you’re interested, our team can discuss this further how to best provide these services to your clients at a minimal cost.
For more information, do get in touch with our reps.
Google’s “Page Experience” algorithm update is expected this month, June 2021. But what you need to know is that you shouldn’t expect a major fluctuation in the rankings, as of now!
We believe that Google will be rolling out the update carefully, as suddenly shaking up the ranking scene will draw unwanted attention to their powerful monopoly on search. Keeping this in mind, you can expect them to implement gradual changes over time. For now, relevancy will rule the ranking game!
Here are a few important tips on how to respond to the Core Web Vitals ranking signal going LIVE.
Implement Lazy Loading – Implementing lazy loading is essential if you display images on your site. With lazy loading, your site’s UX and core web vitals score will remain unharmed. For sites with heavy elements, such as images, animations or videos, lazy loading is considered a must. It allows the loading of images at the exact same time when users scroll down through the page, without compromising on the overall website loading speed. Lazy loading offers a bunch of other benefits.
Optimize & Compress Images – For some websites, the largest element is images. Optimizing images will make your page significantly lighter, thus improving several factors.
There are a lot of free tools available, using which you can compress your images. If you think that compression will affect the quality of the images, well, it isn’t true. Always ensure to save landscape images in .jpg format and the graphics in .png format.
Provide Proper Dimensions For Images & Embeds – CLS score below 0.1 is considered to be poor. To improve your CLS score, you need to have your dimensions in place. Setting proper width and height helps the browser allocate the correct amount of space on the page while the element is loading.
Also, make sure to set proper dimensions for embeds, like when inserting videos from YouTube into your site. At times, the video might look proper on the backend, but it may end up looking way too big or messy on the front end. See to it that the video you insert goes well with the interface of your site.
Improve Your Server Response Time – Google says, “The longer it takes a browser to receive content from the server, the longer it takes to render anything on the screen. A faster server response time directly improves every single page-load metric, including LCP.”
Most importantly, a long server response time can negatively affect your SEO and UX. Google suggests your server response time to be lower than 600 milliseconds. To measure server response time, use Time to First Byte (TTFB). But before you begin, note down the details on your server’s current performance so you can compare the results later on.
To Summarize It All
What you really need to do is pay very close attention to your competitors. You do not necessarily have to meet or exceed Google’s Core Web Vitals guideline scores, but rather meet or exceed your competitors’ scores. Next, you should focus on the content quality of your site and its relevance in terms of the search terms that you’re looking to rank for.
Are you getting the best return out of your digital marketing?
Need an extra pair of eyes to review your online game plan?
Let our experts take a look at your current state and do a comprehensive digital marketing analysis at no cost to you.