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Core Web Vitals As Ranking Signals

Updated: Mar 27

Ranking factors dictate a lot of the work that SEO experts conduct, and with a whopping 200 already under Google’s belt, what is one more to them? Google has confirmed that Core Web Vitals will become the latest ranking signal. Here we will look at what exactly Core Web Vitals are, when you can expect to see this update arrive, and what you should be doing in preparation.

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What are Core Web Vitals?

In very simple terms, Core Web Vitals refer to the criteria (or factors) that Google is looking for on a website in terms of user experience. They will be looking at how fast your website and pages load, whether you offer a secure and stable platform for your visitors, and if it is easy to interact with your website. Google will look out for these aspects and give your website an experience score.


This algorithm update will combine these Core Web Vitals with existing search signals, including HTTPS security, safe-browsing, no intrusive interstitials, and mobile-friendliness, to make one ranking factor called page experience.


With Google now announcing that page experience will become another official ranking factor and prioritize pages that meet their expectations of providing a great page experience, being prepared is of paramount importance.


When Can We Expect This Update?

This latest algorithm update is expected to roll out in May 2021. While we don’t have an exact date, it gives us a decent time frame for everyone to access their current page experience on their website.


What Does This Mean for Everyone?

Google does make it a habit of making regular updates to their algorithms to ensure that users are getting the best experience. However, less frequently do they confirm that they are making a new ranking factor change, and so while this is very exciting, it also means that webmasters need to be making changes to their sites before this change comes into play. After all, announcing it months in advance means one thing: it is important.


Always Been Important

User experience has always been crucial, as it can mean the difference between customers staying and leaving your site. In a competitive industry, you cannot afford to let customers slip through because of slow page loading times or because it is difficult to interact with. However, with it now becoming a ranking factor, if your site is not meeting these requirements, it could suffer as a result.


Valuable Asset to Both Google and Businesses

Google believes that this core update will be valuable to users searching for services, products, and information. Google will highlight great user experience on the search results page and be certain that users can find what they need. Therefore, with visual indicators, this could be valuable to you, helping you get over the last hurdle of attracting more traffic. Google will be testing this out over the next coming months, and if all goes according to plan, they will release this in May 2021.


What Should You Be Doing

One question remains: What should you be doing to prepare for this update? To offer some guidance as we enter these new waters, we recommend that you tackle this update in two stages, before and after the update has rolled out. Thanks to Google providing us with so much time, you will be able to successfully achieve all of this.


Before

While one ranking factor shouldn’t change your outcome too much, if you are still trying to meet the requirements of the other 200 ranking factors, then get in touch with us today, so we can help you be in a better position by the time May and this new update arrives. This should be the first thing to tick off your list.

  • Site-wide Audit

For those already in a pretty decent position, you want it to remain that way. Therefore, you need to carry out a site-wide audit. Whenever a new update comes, this should be a priority. You don’t want to be so focused on making changes to meet the new ranking factor, only to find out later that something as seemingly simple as a typo in one of the URLs is resulting in an increase in bounce rates and a drop in ranking.

However, this audit will alert you to places where improvements could be made to your site in terms of page experience (the main reason for carrying out the audit in the first place). You can carry out this yourself, or if you would prefer to leave it to the experts, we can handle everything for you. We can do a deep dive, uncovering any issues that might not be harming your website as much now, but will indefinitely do so when this becomes a ranking factor.

  • How to measure your page experience

If you choose to go it alone, with helpful tools recommended by Google, there are six ways that you can measure your Core Web Vitals:

  • PageSpeed Insights

  • Search Console

  • Lighthouse

  • Chrome DevTools

  • Chrome UX Report

  • Web Vitals Extension

Already Google is starting to see an increase in the number of users turning to tools such as PageSpeed Insights and Lighthouse, and this is because it provides valuable results. However, if you do not have the technical knowledge, these can be harder to use. Assess your personal situation and determine whether it would be more cost-effective to get it right the first time with expert help.

  • Fixing the Issues

After an audit has taken place, you will want to start making the necessary changes and fix any issues that have been uncovered. Tools like PageSpeed Insights can prove useful. However, one recommendation by Google that did stand out was AMP. Stating that this is an easy and cost-effective way to optimize sites, creating AMP pages could prove extremely useful if you are an SME.


After

Finding and fixing these issues before the update doesn’t mean that you can then sit back, feeling relaxed. As with any ranking factor, you need to keep up the hard work to maintain your spot on Google. Therefore, once the update has come out, we recommend repeating the process every so often, ensuring that any new page or piece of content you add is still meeting these requirements.


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