Your SEO Company Core Web Vitals Guide
For marketers looking to improve their organic search rankings and drive traffic to their website, there is a new concept to get to grips with Core Web Vitals.
In this SEO Company Core Web Vitals Guide, we look at the latest updates to Google’s search algorithm, and how marketers will have to adapt to the new changes. Out of all our SEO Cape Town Guides, this is an important one as will grow in importance as time goes by. Remember you can also use our SEO services if you get stuck.
Introduction to the SEO Company Core Web Vitals Guide
The ultimate goal in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is for your website to fill the top spot on the Google results page. Whenever a potential customer types in a relevant search query, you want to be right there to help them solve their problems.
But obtaining such a high SEO status isn’t easy. Google’s search algorithm is very particular about the websites and pages it chooses to rank highly. And there are so many different criteria you need to satisfy.
High-quality content is arguably the most important. For the algorithm to take your site seriously it should feature a wealth of original content that is well-written, educational, and engaging to its readers.
Keywords are another essential criterion. Based on your keyword research, your site should feature the most relevant search terms regularly throughout its content, headings, and metadata.
But one of the trickiest factors for a company to get right is user experience (UX) and Google refers to it as Page Experience. When a visitor lands on your website, they want to be able to navigate with ease and find the information they are looking for without being hindered by slow loading speeds and confusing page layouts. That’s why you need to pay attention to this SEO Company Core Web Vitals Guide.
Your web pages should be tailored to give each visitor the best possible experience, by optimizing each aspect of the design, layout, navigation, and loading times.
User experience has always been an integral part of SEO, but it is set to become more important than ever. As a measurement, UX has always been spoken about but improvements were rarely implemented, and it was only the sites with a horrendous user experience that were penalised. As an SEO company, we have seen plenty of slow-loading sites ranking high, even the first position, but this is set to slowly change.
But last year, Google announced its plans to make UX an official ranking factor, through a set of Core Web Vitals. What this means for your business is that it will become a much more important consideration in where Google places your site in the results. The better the user experience, the less chance of Google punishing your site.
Google has released a number of new metrics, known as Web Vitals, for measuring some of the most important elements of the user experience. These include:
- Safe browsing i.e. your site is free from malware and popups
- Responsiveness i.e. how easy it is to use on a mobile device
- Ease of navigation
But the most crucial metric for user experience will be your Core Web Vitals. You can use PageSpeed Insights to analyse your site and show how it measures up.
What are Core Web Vitals?
Your Core Web Vitals are, as the name would suggest, the most important elements of your user experience. They form a subset of the UX criteria that is set to have a much greater impact on your overall SEO score. From June 2021, they will be an official part of the Google search algorithm, meaning every SEO company has plenty of time to adapt their sites accordingly.
There are three Core Web VItals to which Google has given extra weight compared to the rest of the Web Vitals. And these are:
As an SEO Company, we will go into each of the three elements in greater detail later on in this SEO company guide, but in a nutshell, this means that your web pages should load quickly, be easy to use, and each element of the page should be stable.
Why are Core Web Vitals important according to an SEO company?
It has always been important for any successful SEO company to improve these elements of their web pages. A site that takes ages to load will never hit the top spot of Google. So what’s changed?
The difference is that it is now possible to measure your performance in these areas, with set targets, or thresholds to aim for. This allows you to determine with a high degree of accuracy how your ranking will be penalised or not.
You can check your Core Web Vitals in your Google Search Console account, under the “Experience” heading.
Although the Google search algorithm weighs these Web Vitals much more highly than before, it’s important to note that they form only a small percentage of the myriad criteria that affect your SEO ranking. In fact, Google uses around 200-plus different factors to rank sites. As an SEO company we believe they may be more than 400 signals.
Quality content will always be at the forefront of good search engine optimization. It doesn’t matter how quickly your website loads or how intuitive it is to use, if the text and images don’t match the other signals Google is looking for, your performance will plummet – trust an SEO company.
You should instead view Core Web Vitals as a way of boosting the visibility of your fantastic content. Suppose your top competitor has a website full of similar information to yours. Their content marketing game is just as on point as yours, so in this case, your page experience score might just land you the top spot on Google. This is why as an SEO company, we need to pay careful attention.
With this in mind, let’s investigate each of the three Core Web Vitals in more detail.
The Three Core Web Vitals:
As we’ve already seen, the three Core Web Vitals are Loading, Interactivity, and Visual Stability. In this section of the SEO Company Core Web Vitals Guide, we will take a closer look at each element and what you can do to optimize your performance in these areas.
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
Internet users today are becoming more and more demanding. They have little patience, and if your website takes too long to load, they will lose interest and bounce off.
To illustrate the importance of your page loading time, Google states that a jump in wait time from one second to five seconds results in a 90% increase in bounce rate.
There are a few different speed metrics (such as Time to First Byte and First Contentful Paint) that the Google algorithm takes into account. But Largest Contentful Paint is different, as it actually takes into account the user’s own experience.
LCP refers to how long a web page takes to load from the user’s viewpoint. It’s arguably a great deal more important than other, more objective speed metrics as this takes into account what it is like for a user to visit your site. And when it comes to page experience, that’s what really matters.
You can check your LCP score in a number of ways, each of which provides different information.
Google PageSpeed Insights will show you your LCP score based on results from Google Chrome over the past 30 days. This is helpful for an overview of the speed of your entire site, and can instantly flag areas in which improvement is needed.
But for a more comprehensive analysis of each individual web page, you should also view the data in your Google Search Console. This will scan every single page of your site and rank it according to its LCP score. You can instantly see which pages are good, bad, or need improvement.
The thresholds for each score as follows:
Good: Under 2.5 seconds
Needs Improvement: 2.5 to 4 seconds
Poor: Over 4 seconds
In an ideal world, every single page on your site would load in less than 2.5 seconds. For sites with large amounts of content and high-resolution images, this might not always be achievable, but there are several things you can do to boost your LCP score.
Block unnecessary third-party scripts that collect data and send analytics without your consent
Change your web host
Set up lazy loading so images below the fold only load once a user scrolls down the page
Remove large design elements that slow down your LCP
Condense any bulky CSS
Compress large images
First Input Delay (FID)
The next Core Web Vital is First Input Delay, which looks at how long it takes for a user to interact with your web page.
An interaction is defined as any meaningful action a user takes, which includes:
Clicking an internal link
Filling in a form field
Using the search function
Operating the menu
Opening accordion text on mobile
FID is important for much the same reason as LCP since if your website is sluggish and it takes a user ages to log in or fill in their details, their experience suffers. Google is penalizing sites that offer a poor UX and elevating those that strive for optimum functionality.
This criterion doesn’t apply to long pages of text where no action is required. It is more relevant for login pages or landing areas where users are required to fill in a form.
Once again, you can check your site’s First Input Delay score through the Google Search Console. If a page is 100% text with no opportunity for interaction, it will be categorized as Not Started. But for pages where interaction is involved, their FID score will determine their placement into one of the following categories:
Good: Under 100 MS
Needs Improvement: 100 to 300 MS
Poor: Over 300 MS
With this in mind, here are some actions you can take to improve your FID score.
Remove any unnecessary third-party scripts
Use a browser cache to help content load quicker for returning visitors.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
Even if you don’t know what Cumulative Layout Shift refers to, you’ve certainly experienced the effects of poor CLS in the past. You open a web page on your phone, go to click on a link, but the page layout suddenly changes and you click on the wrong thing. You end up clicking through to a completely different web page and having to backtrack and wait for the page to load fully.
This is one of the most frustrating and inconvenient experiences a user can have, and it’s caused by a high CLS.
Cumulative Layout Shift refers to the Visual Stability of your site. If design elements on your page are constantly moving around as it loads, your CLS is too high and the algorithm will rank you down.
Instead, your page elements should be stable as the page loads, remaining in the same position to prevent erroneous clicks and visual confusion.
There are times when a layout shift is a good thing, such as when a user opens a cascading menu. But if a visitor is not expecting it, you need to work on your CLS.
In the same way as LCP and FID, Google Search Console displays your CLS score in one of three categories.
Good: Under 0.1
Needs Improvement: 0.1 to 0.25
Poor: Over 2.5
If your score is anything higher than 0.1, you need to adapt it to reduce unexpected shifts. Here are a few effective ways to boost your CLS score.
Reserve set spaces for advertising elements, otherwise, they will appear suddenly and move content around, causing accidental clicks
Use set size attribute dimensions for all design elements like images, GIFs, and videos
Add new user interface elements below the fold so they don’t unexpectedly push content down
SEO Company Core Web Vitals Guide Conclusion
In summary, from June 2021, marketers will need to take these three Core Web Vitals into serious consideration to boost search engine rankings and drive site traffic. Raising your LCP, FID, and CLS scores will not only boost your own SEO performance but will drastically improve the experience that each user has on your site. As mentioned throughout this SEO company guide, there are several methods you can employ to check your site’s Core Web Vital scores, and actionable steps they can take to increase them.
If you need assistance to understand Core Web Vitals or improve your own scores, get in touch with a professional SEO company.