A classic joke goes like this: A young digital marketer and an SEO expert meet at a bar. The young man asks, “What is SEO? And how does it work?” The specialist takes a long sip of his beer and says, “I wish I knew, son. Because even after 25 years, I am still learning how to do SEO!”
While the joke may be funny at first, it is very much set in stark reality. At the very instant when you feel like you've grasped the idea of what SEO is and how it works, search engines then introduce multiple changes to make things more complicated.
Google’s Core Vitals update, scheduled for May 2021, is a highly-anticipated transformation. Take a look at what it is and how it can impact your ranking.
In recent years, Google has been focusing heavily on web user experience and finding ways to enhance it. As such, it has been focused on methods that improve the on-page experience for visitors.
In line with these methods, Google has rolled out various announcements that emphasize mobile-friendliness, safe browsing, lack of intrusive interstitials, HTTPS, and other metrics to measure the satisfaction rates of site visitors.
Core Vitals mark the official transition into this user-centric era. It will serve as an official ranking factor to measure page experience — one of the many elements that govern your website performance on the search engine results pages (SERPs).
In a nutshell, Core Vitals are a set of on-page experience characteristics that Google prioritises when considering the importance of a webpage. Check all the boxes, and you might be rewarded with a higher position in the SERPs.
The latest Core Vitals focus on three main features: Loading, Interactivity, and Visual Stability. Let us examine them individually:
Google has moved on from measuring page load speed to focus largely on perceived page load speed through the Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) metric.
But what is perceived page load speed in the first place?
It is the time that passes from the moment a user visits your website or clicks on a link up until the majority of the on-page content is displayed on the screen. Essentially, LCP is the time it takes for your website to offer value or fully load.
Google has categorized LCP values in three segments:
Between 0 to 2 seconds
Needs Improvement for LCP
Between 2 to 4 seconds
Beyond 4 seconds
Hence, for best results, you want your LCP to not be longer than 2.5 seconds.
First Input Delay (FID) measures the time taken by a website to respond to any user interaction. Such interactions could be in the form of:
It basically measures how long it takes for your website to perform an activity in response to the user input.
Like LCP, Google has published a tri-level categorization for FID:
0 to 100ms
|Needs Improvement for FID
100 to 300ms
FID can be a critical factor if you rely on user interactions and inputs. However, if your website primarily works around displaying content, it may not be great cause of concern.
Everyone has had a moment when they are clicking on a link or button, only to witness the entire page transmute into something else. This shapeshifting may be triggered by an ad, a sidebar, media element, or even a pop-up.
Core Vitals have assimilated Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) as a metric to curb the frustration resulting from such an experience.
It indicates visual stability — how much a page moves around while loading. Your aim is to keep it as low as possible. In fact, Google suggests the following standards:
0 to 0.1
|Needs Improvement for CLS
0.1 to 0.25
Anything above 0.25
Here are a few tips you can follow to update your website in accordance with Google’s Core Vitals:
If you already offer a user-friendly on-page experience, then Google’s Core Vitals may not impact your ranking significantly. Regardless, you will have to take a few proactive steps to ensure that your competitors do not outrank you.
If performing such changes sound like an overwhelming task, going for managed SEO would be a wise choice. An SEO specialist will find a way around how to do SEO for your site and give you stellar results!