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LEWIS

By

Nicole Grodesky & Andy Franco

Published on

March 29, 2021

Tags

digital, google, SEO

There’s a lot of buzz within the SEO world right now concerning Google’s upcoming Page Experience update. With this major update coming just around the corner, slated for early May 2021, we’ve provided helpful tips and answers to frequently asked questions concerning Google’s Core Web Vitals to enhance user experience on your site and rankability within Google search.

What are Core Web Vitals?

Core web vitals are what Google is calling “page experience signals” and have been officially added to the list of ranking factors that Google is transparent about.

Last November Google announced that “page experience ranking signals for Google Search will launch in May 2021. This will combine Core Web Vitals and previous UX-related signals.”

Google rarely tells the SEO community what part of their algorithm they consider a ranking factor, but when they do, as with the most recent BERT algorithm update announcement, we must pay attention and ensure we are aligning our SEO strategy to include Google’s best practices.

So What Does That Mean for Your Business and Website?

We’re here to break down some of the most common questions asked about how to best prepare for Google’s Core Web Vitals update to ensure your web performance isn’t impacted negatively. In a nutshell the Core Web Vital update is focused on user interaction with your web pages and could be considered more of a page experience update. Google is looking at things like layout shift and visual stability to measure and rate a positive or negative user interaction. If there are poor behavior metrics (high bounce rate, low conversions, low time on site, etc.), then there may be issues with the page experience signal. Understanding the details of the page experience update as a ranking signal will improve your customer’s experience on your site, thus improving your website’s rank-ability and performance in organic search.

Why Are Core Web Vital Metrics Important?

At the end of the day, Google is a business, and their business objective is to show the best search result to their users. They use a variety of metrics to measure a good user experience and incorporate them into their ranking algorithm so they can show the user the best webpage experience. Core web vitals are important because they specifically focus on the user experience of a webpage. If your webpage isn’t passing Google’s test, then your webpage will have a harder time ranking and therefore your business may lose traffic and visibility within Google’s search engine.

How Do I Find My Core Web Vitals Poor-Performing URLs?

There are a couple of ways to do this, but the sure-fire way to do this is to verify your domain within Google Search Console. As part of technical SEO enhancements, Google has added a specific “Core Web Vitals” section to their GSC platform. If you are doing on-the-fly optimizations and want to inspect a URL that dipped in rankings, you can use a page experience testing tool like Lighthouse, Chrome Devtools and many more. These tools will show your core web vitals score and tell you what elements of your webpage needs improvement in order for you to improve the user experience and performance metrics.

What Is the “LCP Issue” in Google Search Console?

This is known as the Largest Contentful Paint or LCP, which is focused on measuring loading performance. Google states that “to provide a good user experience, sites should strive to have LCP occur within the first 2.5 seconds the page starting to load.”

Types of elements to test for are images, images inside an element, videos, background images and block-level elements.

Drawing of UX design

How Do I Improve Core Web Vitals FID for SEO?

The First Input Delay (FID) measures the time it takes for the browser to respond to a user’s first interaction, such as clicks on your navigation buttons or form fills on your site. The faster your browser reacts to user actions, the more responsive your site is for an enhanced user experience (UX). If your FID score is poor (between 100ms and 300ms), you should work to improve your pages’ responsiveness.

While JavaScript code that blocks the main thread for a long period of time is the most common contributor to this issue, there are several items and tools Google recommends to optimize FID including:

  • Optimize First Input Delay
  • Heavy JavaScript execution
  • Break up Long Tasks
  • Optimize your page for interaction readiness
  • Use a web worker
  • Developer tools

How to Optimize Cumulative Layout Shift

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) is all about visual stability and typically affects websites running banner ads, embeds and iframes, dynamic content and animations. If an advertisement suddenly shifts on the page when you go to click on a link within an article page and accidentally click on the ad instead, that’s called a layout shift. While CLS score will likely be a minor factor within your overall Core Web Vitals score, there are several ways to ensure a good user experience. Google recommends several CLS optimizations such as pre-defining image aspect ratio for banners and reserving static spaces for ad slots.

What Are the Latest Core Web Vitals for SEO?

With the May 7th update steadily approaching, the SEO community is all a buzz on this trending topic — and for good reason. First and foremost, this update has been long anticipated ever since Google added the Core Web Vitals Report feature to their Search Console back in May 2020.

When comparing the CWV update to the Mobile page experience rollout, Google’s Danny Sullivan recently tweeted: “it could become a more important factor over time than with an initial launch as a great page experience becomes more common to pages.”

Although Google’s John Mueller stated at SMX in December 2020 that it was unknown if this will be a big update, he has more recently stated that Core Web Vitals ranking signals might include no-indexed pages as they rely on “field data” (visits to pages by actual humans) and not page visits by Googlebot.

Why is User Experience an Important Part of SEO?

User experience (UX) and SEO go hand in hand. Every recommendation is made to optimize for visibility so users can discover your site as well as interactions when they visit. Google’s documentation on page experience criteria outlines the most important UX metrics and how well they perceive the experience of a specific web page. Top considerations include page load times, mobile-friendliness, secure HTTPS protocol, avoidance of intrusive ads, and page stability.

How Do I Use Google Search Console To Improve SEO?

Google Search Console (GSC) has gone through several facelifts over the years. Some features we miss, and others weren’t highly utilized. Core Web Vitals provides detailed insights on current page issues on both Mobile and Desktop along with examples of page URLs that are most affected. You can access Core Web Vitals under “Enhancements” on the sidebar menu in GSC.

At the end of the day, it’s all about an enhanced user experience on all devices (especially mobile). Core Web Vitals are a great resource for achieving quick SEO wins for both users and potential rankings. With Google’s upcoming update being imminent, it’s wise to heed their advice and address what you and your dev team can within this narrowing window of time.

 

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