A number of my WordPress and SEO clients/students have been in touch recently because they are VERY concerned about things they are hearing about Google’s “New” Ranking changes associated with Core Web Vitals.
They are getting worried that their websites will suddenly lose rankings and they will lose traffic and sales/enquiries !!!!.
There is No Need to Panic !!!
Core Web Vitals is largely related to “website performance” and for the last few months, the SEO media (and Google for that matter) have been “talking up” the influence of Performance on Search Rankings.
Despite what you may believe, this is not really new – Website Performance has been a ranking factor for at least 5 years.
Every 6 months or so over the last few years there seems to be another flurry of articles in the SEO media about how performance affects rankings. Search Engine Optimisers like to make a fuss because it helps generate business…Google likes to encourage site owners to improve performance because it makes it faster for them to crawl and index websites… Because of the scary number of website out there, even slight performance improvements have a huge impact on how fast Google crawlbots and spiders can do their jobs finding and indexing websites.
- Yes… Performance is important
- Yes .. your site should load fast – not just for rankings but also for usability
- No … the latest Core Web Vitals ranking algorithm changes are not likely to have a huge impact on your rankings – unless, your site is performing particularly badly in relation to your search competition.
What are Core Web Vitals ?
Core Web Vitals have been “created” by Google as a means of helping website owners improve user experience and the quality of their websites. Core Web Vitals offers a quick, easy and consistent way for Google to Measure and Quantify some “performance” based metrics for your website – that influence it’s usability and may influence your rankings on Google.
Google Core Web Vitals provide a set of website performance metrics considered by Google to be important in the overall user experience of your website. Essentially Core Web Vitals measure how quickly your website loads, becomes visible, and is ready for use.
To do this, Google has created three “quality” tests (known as Web Vitals). These may seem a bit technical and scary, but are reasonably straight forward :
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – measures of how quickly the main content of your website becomes visible to the users
- First Input Delay (FID) – measures the time it takes a user’s browser to actually be able to begin processing event handlers in response to a user’s interaction.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) – measures the time it takes for a website to become visually stable.
Do I need to Do Anything ?
The answer to this Maybe….. but if you are already following good Content / SEO principles then you will probably not need to do very much, if anything at all.
The first thing you need to do is check to see your Core Web Vitals “Score” via one (or more) of the following methods. These will provide an overall score (note separate scores for Mobile and Desktop)… and also provide a (fairly technical) breakdown of the specific elements tested … along with some (also reasonably technical) explanations of what improvements could be made.
- The easiest way to do this is by using the Page Speed Insights tool. Simply enter the URL you want to test and click on the Analyze button.
- You can get additional information on how Google has determined Core Web Vitals for your wesbite via the Core Web Vitals report in your Google Search Console dashboard as well.
- You can also use the lighthouse speed test by going to Web.dev Measure tool, or by using the built-in test inside Google Chrome browser.
Are Core Web Vitals Important?
A single-second delay in page load time can lead to 7% loss in conversions, 11% fewer page views, and 16% decrease in customer satisfaction…. So whether or not it affects your search rankings, Core Web Vitals are important because they reflect how your website performs for the users. That is why it is important to optimize your website for speed and performance.
However a fast website with poor user experience is still probably costing you conversions, and is likley to have fewer page views, and lower customer satisfaction, so improving Core Web Vitals helps you remedy that.
User experience is also a factor in how your website is ranked on Google Search Results. Google has announced that starting in May 2021 the search algorithm update will include page experience as one of the ranking factors.