Google announced in May it will use Core Web Vitals for a ranking factor. Google will combine the Core Web Vitals with other ranking factors such as website security and mobile-friendliness (mobile-first indexing from March 2021). However, since the announcement of the Web Vitals as a new ranking factor, there’s been some confusion among the SEO community, site owners and webmasters as to what this update means and how to prepare for it.
When you dig a little deeper, you notice Core Web Vitals consider real-time user experiences on a site. Google measures aspects such as page-load time, the stability of the content on the website, the speed of the site on mobile and whether the site is fast when being used interactively. This aligns with Google’s Page Experience signals and metrics, which are less concerned with the content or text on a web page and instead focused on whether a user enjoys using the website.
The Core Web Vitals update will affect many ranking factors and is bound to cause havoc, shaking many websites from their current positions on the search engine results pages (SERPs). Remember accelerated mobile pages (AMP)? Well, Web Vitals will be replacing this as the new requirement to meet if you hope for your site to appear in Google Top Stories.
Don’t panic just yet as COVID-19 has bought us some time and the release of this Google algorithm update will only take place in the new year. This means webmasters have ample time to prepare. And while we haven’t received any official notice period, you may notice Google Search Console (GSC) has already changed its Speed Report with the Web Core Vitals Report. You’ll see that this new report gives insights into how your site performs against these new metrics. Each page is identified as either a poor URL, one in need of improvements or a good URL.
Updates like this leave many site owners and webmasters nervous that all their hard work will be abandoned and found insufficient according to the new metrics. However, Google has done the necessary research. The search engine’s studies indicate that web pages that meet the thresholds of Core Web Vitals can rest assured that their visitors are 24 percent less likely to abandon their site.
While you should prepare your site for this update, you may be wondering where to start. The first thing to do is check out this piece in Google’s Help Center and review the GSC report change. And then, go about understanding the three signals or aspects of user experience that are considered the basis for this update’s metrics. These are large contentful paint (LCP), cumulative layout shift (CLS) and first input delay (FID). Here’s a basic explanation for each:
To prepare for the update in the new year, it’s imperative you address these three metrics first and make sure to improve on the pages that need it. Changes to these metrics are inevitable and will likely be far-reaching and profoundly impactful. It’s a good idea to start measuring and fixing your site as soon as possible.
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