Is it time to check your Vitals?
As the world’s biggest search engine, Google releases constant updates each and every year for the SEO community, providing valuable insights for SEO experts to improve the effectiveness of their search marketing strategies (including us right here at 21Digital). The announcement it released around this time last year was a pretty seismic one, and definitely one that both technical and non-technical people need to know.
In a nutshell, in May 2020, Google announced a new ranking signal which combines Core Web Vitals with existing page experience signals. The idea is to improve the way it judges the overall user experience provided by a page, so it can give users a better experience than ever when browsing the web. By announcing this in Spring of last year, Google intended to give site owners and SEOs an early warning so that they could prepare. Now, they’re scheduled to officially become active ranking signals from June 2021 onwards.
OK, so without getting too technical, here’s what you need to know about Core Web Vitals, and how they’ll affect your business.
What are Core Web Vitals?
Core Web Vitals are a new set of standards that Google will use to determine whether a webpage provides a good user experience. Google has always been very clear that it places the most value on sites which provide the best user experience for visitors, but this is the first time it’s been quite so specific about how it calculates that value.
The official names are quite technical, so we’ve included the more simple definitions for clarity.
Google’s 3 main Core Web Vitals are:
- Loading (“Largest Contentful Paint”) – the speed at which a page’s main content is loaded. Google said this should happen within 5 seconds; see our post about why loading speed matters.
- Interactivity (“First Input Delay”) – measures the interval between the moment the site loads, and the moment a user is able to interact with it. Google has said that this should occur within 100 milliseconds.
- Visual stability (“Cumulative Layout Shifts”) – how often users experience unexpected layout shifts and the movement of elements on a web page. Site owners should aim to maintain a CLS of less than 0.1.
Why do Google’s Core Web Vitals matter?
These Core Web Vitals are important because the better you score on them, the higher your website ranks in Google’s search results.
The search engine giant has explicitly said that sites need to meet the minimum threshold for all Core Web Vitals in order to benefit from the associated ranking signal. In other words, if your site isn’t capable of meeting these requirements for whatever reasons you could find your organic keyword rankings slip down the search results. And as the old adage goes, if you’re not on Page 1 of Google’s search results, you’re all but invisible to potential customers.
So, now you know what Google wants. The next question is, how do you go about meeting it?
Well, some of the key things to focus on include:
- The mobile experience of your site
- The level of image compression
- The quality of informational page content on your site
- Site speed
- The security of your site, and how it’s structured technically
- Intrusive interstitial guidelines (nobody likes those particularly annoying pop-ups!)
It’s worth bearing in mind that one of the most notable things about that Spring 2020 announcement was that Google’s normally very protective of its algorithms, so it’s unusual for the company to pull the curtain back quite this far. It’s definitely the first time it’s revealed the specific performance metrics underpinning its search rankings – so when a normally-cagey corporation takes the time to be so explicit about its ranking factors, don’t make the mistake of waiting too long to act on that advice!
“I think one of the other things to remember with Core Web Vitals is that they’re flexible, and could change in future,” said Ashley Chaplin, our Search Manager here at 21Digital. “They’re designed to reflect the expectations that users have of sites right now, but those expectations could change further down the line, and Google may adjust its Core Web Vitals accordingly. But even if the specifics change, they’re always going to stay focused on the same goal of providing visitors the best user experience, so that always forms a key building block for each of our bespoke SEO campaigns.”
How can we help here at 21Digital?
Easy – with more than 18 years of experience and all-under-one-roof offering, we’ve got all the skills and expertise we need here at 21Digital to help you get to the top of Google’s search results, and help you stay there.
We’ve been doing this a long time – we know what Google likes to see, so you can trust us to know how to get your website to Page 1 position. Part of this mission involves staying on top of Google Updates, reacting to them promptly and even anticipating them when possible, so that we can maximise the positive impact on your site.
Every month, we’ll provide you with a regular, detailed report that shows you the progress of your campaigns, so you can see what effect Google’s updates have had on your rankings, and helping us to demonstrate a tangible return on your investment.
To find out more about what we do, feel free to head on over to our Search Engine Optimisation page, or give us a call on 01254 660 560, and find out what we can do for you! As a full-service digital agency, our services also encompass Google Ads, Conversion Rate Optimisation, digital consultancy, social media marketing, and email marketing services.