As the age of information and technology continues people are now demanding more. We want things to be better, work faster, be more intuitive and solve problems we didn’t even know we have. We live in a time where page two of any Google search may as well not even exist. Having a website or an app is now an expectation of any business. Getting to the top of those search results could be the difference between success or bankruptcy for many. According to digital market research by Chitika, page one results get 95% of all traffic. And in May 2020, Google announced that they would be making new changes to their algorithm, based on a user’s web page experience. While backlinks and on-site content are still being considered as ranking factors, there will be an increased focus on the value derived from something called Core Web Vitals.
The factors that are making up the new Core Web Vitals are load time, interactivity and visual stability. Originally scheduled to launch in May of 2021, as with most things these days, the launch of the algorithm update was pushed back to mid-June, 2021. Full implementation of the update should be complete by the end of August. This announcement was major news for anyone needing more time to update their website for CWV (Core Web Vitals). Google rarely lets people know the algorithm is changing, let alone give a year’s notice of the upcoming changes. Now is the time to not only be thinking about making changes but to be working on getting your CWV ready, to take advantage of the changes to the algorithm.We have to stop optimizing for programmers and start optimizing for users. ~ Jeff Atwood #CWV #SEO Click To Tweet
Largest Contentful Paint
The load time, or “Largest Contentful Paint” as Google calls it, is the first metric for the CWV. It measures the amount of time it takes for the majority of content to load, once someone has landed on a web page. Usually, if a site takes longer than five seconds to load, when I am looking for something, I will leave and go find a different site that loads more quickly.
My most common searches are questions I am looking for an answer to. “When was the last time the Panthers faced the Lightning in the playoffs?” This is a specific question, and is likely answered by hundreds of sites. Why would I continue to wait on a website that takes a long time to load when I can quickly get the answer somewhere else? It would be a safe assumption that if I continue to look on that site, each article would take the same time to load.
What You Should Do
Simply put, LCP is how long it takes your website visitors to be able to actually see the contents of the page. It is possibly the first impression they will have of you and your business. Things such as hosting, plugins or unoptimized images can have a huge impact on your load times. Previously, Google measured content load times and first content paint times, but neither were as effective to measure the first usability of a website as LCP. Splash screens or loading indicators could manipulate those results, neither of which your website visitors really care about. The expectation put out by Google is, “To provide a good user experience, sites should strive to have Largest Contentful Paint of 2.5 seconds or less.”
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First Input Delay
Have you ever clicked on something and nothing happened? Maybe you missed it, so you click on it again. You are not alone, and Google is paying attention. The second part of Core Web Vitals is the First Input Delay. This is a measurement that tracks how long it actually takes an action on the website to be completed. That could be how long it takes to have someone click “add to cart” for their product to actually be added. If they keep hitting “add to cart” because nothing is happening, they could end up with a cart full of duplicate and unwanted items. It creates frustration, and they could end up walking away with nothing.
What You Should Do
When someone takes an action, the desired result should take place almost instantly. In fact, Google wants it to be 100 milliseconds or less. And in case you’re curious, there are 1,000 milliseconds in one second. So, and action should be completed in a tenth of a second to make Google happy.
Bad coding, unorganized threads or unnecessary scripts can cause delays. They could be forcing the webpage to try and do too many different things at once. When it should be doing the requested task. Try removing unnecessary codes and scripts or breaking the tasks into multiple smaller commands. This enables the page to produced a desired result much more effectively. This is another great example of how Google is changing, to put the focus on the user experience. It is also a change that businesses can make, to improve their own customer experience online.
Cumulative Layout Shift
The last metric for Core Web Vitals is the visual stability of your web page. The technical term for this metric is “Cumulative Layout Shift.” As an example, imagine you are reading this blog post, then the page shifts and you are now looking at an entirely different paragraph. This is a problem. And to a website visitor, it can be one of the most frustrating challenges. Instantly, all of your customer’s engagement is gone. Now they must search for where they were and try to reengage. There are sites that I refuse to visit because of this issue. I know it is going to happen every single time I visit them.
Sometimes you go to click on a link at the exact same time things move. As a result, you end up clicking on the wrong link, or even an advertisement. This can be caused by different parts of the page loading at different times, or an ad might appear and moved everything around it. When Google measures this, it’s looking at the impact the shift makes on the user, along with the distance of the shift. You want to keep these an minimal as possible.
What You Should Do
Impact is measured by how much of the screen space the text is using when the page starts to load, compared to where it ends after the entire page has loaded. So if it started using 50% of the screen and moved ¾ of the way down it that would given a score of 0.75, as the example provided. Distance measures how much it was moved, in this example 25% down the screen meaning it would be given a score of 0.25. By multiplying those together you would get your Shift score of 0.1875. Moving forward, Google is considering 0.1 a good score, or 10% shift in your page.
Final Thoughts Regarding Core Web Vitals
We all know the value of ranking well on Google. Great rankings result in more traffic and business. Although the CWV changes to the algorithm may be a bit challenging to comprehend, the fundamental change is not. Simply put, Google want to put more focus on sending Googlers to websites that provide a good user experience. They have even announced that sites will be listed with a badge for meeting the criteria of Core Web Vitals compliance, to show website visitors the sites that are most likely to give them a positive user experience. It is important to take a look at your own site and make sure you are ready for the launch of Core Web Vitals in June 2021.