SEO and search ranking are topics that either overwhelm starting entrepreneurs or get ignored by other businesses. But this year, Google is making one of the most significant changes to how it ranks web pages. In May 2020, it unveiled its new Core Web Vitals, a collection of user-focused indicators aimed to assess a page’s “health”, which helps businesses offer a smoother and more seamless user experience. And if you’re a business that values brand awareness and visibility, you should read on and learn how these changes can impact your business.
The update was released in mid-June 2021, and became fully functional at the end of August. These measures are divided into three categories: content loading speed, interactivity, and visual stability. Google’s algorithm has been gradually improved to assess little information like these in order to give the best content and results.
Marketers are keeping a careful eye on this news, and you should too. After all, organic search accounts for 53% of all website traffic.
What Are Google’s Core Web Vitals?
Let’s begin with a short recap. Google is a search engine, and its job is to return the most relevant results to a user’s query. But here’s where it gets fascinating.
Previously, this was mostly semantic. The algorithm would find high-quality information that matched the search intent. It would also check for mobile friendliness, security, and simple usability.
But now, Google is taking things to the next level. Because Core Web Vitals has been added as a ranking indicator, websites that do not follow best practices will receive lower ranking scores than those that do.
While original and relevant content is always a plus for SEO, Google will now also evaluate website performance depending on how well visitors engage with your website.
Google has announced three new Core Web Vitals that it will use to determine a website’s user experience score.
1. On Loading: Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
Don’t worry if this sounds complex. It simply refers to the average load time of a page’s main content.
Media and text are the main content formats. Google will then use LCP to determine how fast the first meaningful content (or the LCP) loads. But it’s not just about page load time. LCP also measures perceived load speed or how fast does the primary visible content appear?
This is then scored per page. A page’s content must load in less than 2.5 seconds to meet Google’s user experience guidelines. A loading time of more than this will result in a low LCP score. However, LCP varies by page type. A product image may be more significant than an H1 headline on a product page.
A good LCP score is vital for providing the optimum user experience. How often have you gone to a website to look for something just to leave because the content was slow to load? If visitors can reach your material faster, they are more likely to stay on the page and interact with it.
2. On Interactivity: First Input Delay (FID)
This metric measures the time between a user’s input and the page’s execution. First inputs include links, buttons, and keys. To rank well, Google recommends an FID score of less than 100 milliseconds. More than 300 milliseconds of FID will be a bad sign for your SEO performance.
3. On Visual Stability: Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
Finally, there is Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). This metric assesses the stability of your website’s page as it loads.
Have you ever noticed how graphics and links appear to shift down when a website loads? This indicates a high CLS score, indicating that the page elements are not visually stable.
Optimising for this Core Web Vital prevents users from making accidental clicks or becoming annoyed when transported to a different page that they did not want to see. Visual consistency increases the user experience and overall SEO performance of your website.
The key takeaway
When it comes to ranking web pages, Google’s algorithm is gradually shifting toward a more user-centric approach. It will reward websites that perform well in terms of major content loading time, first input delay, and visual stability based on the new Core Web Vitals.
The sooner you start improving your website’s UX, the better. This will increase your business’ competitive edge.
Begin by analysing your site with Google’s official tool. You can also find bottlenecks with Google Search Console’s new “Core Web Vitals” report. Both of these will provide you with a full summary of your page’s performance. They will also give you recommendations on how to improve it. Uncompressed images, huge files, unminified code, or intrusive popups are common issues.
If your organisation values its search visibility and wants to create more leads from Google, don’t delay optimising for Core Web Vitals. It will help you provide a better user experience and, as a result, increase your conversion rates.
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