You may have heard that Google has a new algorithm update coming in June, and it will be a big one. What is somewhat unusual about this update is that it’s all about usability – Google wants to know if your website is user friendly, and it will be ranking accordingly! While Core Web Vitals, the new ranking factors, have been around for quite a while, this is the first time Google will be using them in ranking determinations. The Core Web Vitals will join the other aspects of the Page Experience suite, including mobile friendliness, to determine how pleasant it is to use your site and rank sites and pages with that data in mind.
How will the Core Web Vitals Affect You?
Like other updates to the Google ranking algorithm, this update will affect search everywhere on all devices. One thing that distinguishes this update, though, is that it will replace the old AMP requirements as a requirement to be featured in Google Stories at the top of the page.
As with other updates, these are only a few new ranking factors added to the hundreds of signals Google already uses. These factors all by themselves will affect your overall ranking, but they likely will not have a dramatic impact unless you or your top competitors are noticeable underperforming on these metrics.
The Core Web Vitals have the potential to genuinely and significantly help you improve the user experience on your site, though, as data from Google indicates that users are up to 24% less likely to abandon a site when these baseline Core Web Vitals are met.
What are the Core Web Vitals?
Unlike previous algorithm elements that have primarily focused on the content and text of web pages, the new update attempts to rank sites with regard to their ease of use. Is it pleasant to use the page? Is it useful? Is it user friendly? These are the questions the Core Web Vitals update strives to answer.
Core Web Vital 1: Largest Contentful Paint
The Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) is one way to estimate page speed; fortunately, Google has chosen a measurement device that is helpful for both users and site owners. The Largest Contentful Paint doesn’t measure the load speed of the entire page – instead, it checks how long the largest element takes to load. If you have a large image above the fold or a big block of text on a blog post, that’s probably the element that LCP will measure. In order to constitute a “good” result, Google is looking for an LCP of under 2.5 seconds.
Core Web Vital 2: Cumulative Layout Shift
How many times have you visited a page, especially on mobile, only to scroll to the part of the page you’re interested in and then get bumped forward and back as a million ads load? Recipe sites and other affiliate marketing sites are very commonly guilty of this, but it can happen on any website. It’s a deeply frustrating user experience, which is why Google wants to help people avoid it.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) is a ranking metric that looks at how long it takes your page to be stable and complete.
Core Web Vital 3: First Input Delay
The third Core Web Vital is the First Input Delay, or FID. This essentially looks at how fast your page can process interactions. When users click on a “play video” button or exit out of a newsletter subscription pop-up, how fast can your page respond to that? If users are trying to interact with your site and it’s slow or nothing happens, it can be very frustrating and can ultimately make them doubt your site’s trustworthiness and quality.
How Can You Improve Core Web Vitals On your Site?
This update has one important message for everyone, and that is to really tune in to Google Search Console. That’s where Google’s record of errors in these three areas will “live,” and it’s more important than ever for you to keep an eye on your Search Console and ensure you are avoiding errors. If you do find that your pages have problems in terms of FID, CLS, or LCP, it’s also where you can go after fixing those problems to submit the pages for validation. This way, they can be re-indexed as soon as possible, thus avoiding any damage to your SEO in the long term.
For further guidance, getting your website taken care of by a professional is always a good idea. A web developer can help you resolve any current issues on your site and help future-proof you with continuous monitoring and improvement.