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There’s no denying it; the introduction of Core Web Vitals will break all the traditional methods of Search Engine Optimization.
While most traditional SEO efforts have focused on on-page optimization, since June, Google’s latest updates have centered on the technical SEO of your website.
In this blog, we’ll cover what Core Web Vitals are, how they’ll fundamentally change how Google’s web crawling tools read sites, and how you can adapt your web strategy to accommodate the new changes.
What are Core Web Vitals?
Fundamentally, Core Web Vitals are an attempt by Google to focus search rankings on measuring website user experience. These three new additions to Google’s search signals for page experience will be added to the traditional SEO measures and carry a far greater weight for websites.
In the past, websites were evaluated primarily on their mobile responsiveness, if they were safe for users to browse, if they complied with modern security requirements (aka, operating safely), and whether or not they had moving/in-page pop-up ads.
How well a web page performed in these four categories served as the primary determinant for its search rating. Now, however, search results will be primarily determined by the following new metrics:
Google’s official name for how they’ll track loading is called “Largest Contentful Paint,” or LCP for short.
This metric tracks how long the largest visual element of the page takes to load. Essentially, a faster load time for the visual aspects of your page leads to an improved user experience.
Sites should strive to have the Largest Contentful Paint of 2.5 seconds or less.
Following the theme of user experience focus, the second crucial new metric is based on how quickly your site can be used. The official name of this Vital is “First Input Delay”or FID.
Where LCP tracks how long it takes the user to see your website, FID tracks the time between someone opening your site and interacting with it. Again, the faster a user can interact with your site, the better it is for their experience.
Pages should have an FID of 100 milliseconds or less.
In Google’s testing, they found users who experienced a 400ms delay used the search engine significantly less than those who experienced only a 100ms delay. Consider how much more significant the impact might be if visitors must wait 5 or 10, or 15 full seconds to view your page!
To provide a good user experience, pages should maintain a CLS of 0.1. or less.
The final portion of CWV deals with the visual stability of your site. Formally referred to as “Cumulative Layout Shift” or CLS, it measures the volume of changes a user sees from the first time they land on a page to the point it is fully loaded.
How often have you been to a recipe website, especially on your phone, and accidentally clicked an ad that loaded in after everything else? This CWV aims to eliminate that problem or lower the search ranking of websites containing it.
Sites should strive to have a CLS score of 0.1 or less.
Core Web Vitals will change the internet as we know it.
CWV marks a significant hallmark for the state of the Western world’s internet. The statement earlier on 60% of your SEO score being related to these metrics is no exaggeration. When these changes go live into the Google search algorithm, there will be an immediate and dramatic shift in the results of your searches.
Many websites will drop off the face of the internet, and others will skyrocket to the top from out of nowhere, at least for a time.
The web development industry will dramatically restructure to accommodate these new requirements. Until new technology develops dramatically, template websites will lose much of their luster as they often score in the mid to poor range on these metrics.
Larger companies will have a significant advantage in the virtual marketplace, leveraging their more extensive resources to perfect alignment with the new CWV. Smaller businesses may have trouble hitting their previous SEO ranks as larger businesses invest heavily in the new metrics.
How Can I Pass the Core Web Vitals?
There are three steps every business, big or small, should take to prepare for the upcoming CWV launch:
1. Test Your Site’s Performance
Google has created a tool to assist site owners in evaluating their site’s performance under the new metrics. The Google Search Console’s enhancements tool will show you all the pages which are in the mid-poor range.
Once you’ve identified pages needing improvement, turn to the PageSpeed Insights tool to evaluate your pages. This tool measures point for point how your site measures up against the CWVs. With these results in hand, you’re ready to move to step two:
2. Evaluate Your Site
Most likely, you’ll have at least a few pages that are needing some form of assistance. Some changes will be relatively small, but it’s possible your site may need significant infrastructure development to reach your desired SEO status.
Having a clear picture of what you need to be changed, built, removed, or developed will allow you to find the resources you need to improve your site.
3. Develop a Strategy
Finally, you’ll need a web development strategy. In the online world, your website is your best employee. No other resource in your company is always online, always selling your brand, constantly building your reputation. Losing your critical traffic from search results could be catastrophic, but at best, it’ll undoubtedly damage your brand reputation.
Whether you work with an internal developer, a freelance web developer, or a company like Strategy, correcting your website’s CWV weak spots is an absolute necessity.
Stronger, Faster, Better with Strategy
Whether you’re interested in learning more about the Core Web Vitals update or need a website audit, we would love to chat! Send us an email at [email protected].