Google’s Core Web Vitals as new ranking signals

Announced last November, Core Web Vitals will soon become one of the most important metrics for measuring user experience on the website. They will affect how domains rank in the Google search engine. This may cause some turbulence in the traffic on the website, which underlines the importance of optimizing the metrics on time.

Previously set to launch in May 2021, new page experience signals will come into force in mid-June this year. Their influence on ranking systems will grow gradually to reach full power at the end of August.

Ranking signals

Core Web Vitals will join a current set of ranking signals used to measure the level of a site’s mobile-friendliness, HTTPS security, safe browsing and intrusive ad formats.

Source: https://developers.google.com/search/blog/2020/05/evaluating-page-experience

According to Google, expanding search signals for page experience will allow them to promote site owners with quality content presented in an enjoyable way. It will also help users access the information more easily as well as engage more deeply.

What are Core Web Vitals?

Core Web Vitals are a set of metrics used to measure the very first impression a user gets on the website. They focus on the three most important aspects of the experience: loading, interactivity, and visual stability.

Source: https://web.dev/vitals/

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) measures the time needed to load the largest above-the-fold element on the site. These are images, videos, containers or text elements. To receive the best rating, LCP should occur within 2.5 seconds of when the page first starts loading.

Source: https://web.dev/vitals/

First Input Delay (FID) measures interactivity understood as the time taken to respond to the first user action. That may be clicking a button or a link, opening a menu or entering an email. „Good” FID score is less than 100 milliseconds.

Source: https://web.dev/vitals/

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) measures the stability of the layout. Any unexpected movement on the website, caused by font rendering or an image with an unknown size, increases the score. Desirable CLS should maintain below 0.1.

Why optimizing Core Web Vitals is so important?

Optimizing Core Web Vitals will help to promote the website. According to Google itself: „A good page experience doesn’t override having great, relevant content. However, in cases where there are multiple pages that have similar content, page experience becomes much more important for visibility in Search.”. This means that pages with stronger page experience signals will rank higher in search results. 

Moreover, using AMP will no longer be the condition to appear in Google’s „Top Stories” on mobile. Instead, pages with a good page experience score will be prioritized in the section, allowing them to reach a far greater audience.  

Measuring Core Web Vitals

There are a variety of tools that allow publishers to measure Core Web Vitals. Most of them come from Google itself and offer a wide range of tools for optimization. The most important are:

  • Google’s Search Console allowing to identify pages that need improvement on user experience.
  • PageSpeed Insights giving insights on lab and field issues for the identified pages.
  • Lighthouse and Chrome DevTools, which guides the publisher through all of the aspects that need fixing.

To quickly improve the overall experience of the users on the website and boost Core Web Vitals, publishers should focus on:

  • reducing the dimensions of background images;
  • implementing lazy loading solutions;
  • preloading fonts;
  • upgrading to a faster server;
  • minimizing third-party scripts;
  • reducing the number of large elements above-the-fold;
  • minifying CSS and JS scripts.

What can we expect in the future?

It is very likely the set of Core Web Vitals will grow over time. First Contentful Paint (FCP) will probably join them first, but we don’t expect it to happen very soon. Google will try to keep the number of metric signals as low as possible in order to make them more understandable and easy to measure. 

Core Web Vitals will almost surely go beyond the initial page load. We may expect Google to develop signals measuring animation performance as well as looking into optimizing current signals for SPA pages.

Beware of the upcoming changes, Waytogrow is constantly working on minimizing the impact of its advertising solutions on the ranking signals. We have also begun cooperation with SEO experts to make it easier for our publishers to optimize their websites on time.  

If you want to learn more about the Core Web Vitals and other ranking signals as well as ways of optimizing them, we strongly recommend visiting the Google Developers website.

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