Core Web Vitals: Google’s Big Algorithm Update

Google has introduced new ranking factors called Core Web Vitals. This is a huge algorithm change for Google that will see a lot of people changing the way they strategize content on their website. This algorithm change is set to put the user’s page experience at the forefront, giving importance to how the users feel when they enter a site and their experience thereafter. The SEO Specialists from Search Pirates are dedicated to giving you everything that’s happening in the SEO and SEM sphere, this includes the what, when and why.

If you wish to read the report for yourself you can click here and see for yourself what the Core Web Vitals report states. You can also choose to read the case studies that Google has linked to in the report itself to see why these changes are happening, and understand truly why this change is needed, what are the Core Web Vitals Ranking Factors and other important factors.

In summary, this article will go in-depth as to why Google has introduced CWV, the three Core Web Vitals Ranking Signals which are: Largest contentful paint (LCP), Cumulative layout shift (CLS) and First input delay (FID).

We will also discuss how to measure such signals, how to find out if your website needs changing and tools that will aid you in implementing said changes.

What Are Core Web Vitals?

This algorithm is a specific set of factors that mainly target the page experience. The Core Web Vitals Ranking Signals are made up of three pillars that will be discussed further below. These signals mainly affect page speed and user interaction. The three pillars are: Largest contentful paint, First input delay and Cumulative Layout Shift. These will all come together to judge a website and be part of Googles ‘page experience’ score.

These three pillars are set to answer questions like:

  • How fast does my website load?
  • How fast is it interactive?
  • In what timeframe it becomes stable?

In short, when your website loads on desktop or mobile, what is the user’s experience in terms of speed, how fast can they start interacting with the website and other questions that mainly target page experience. These groups of metrics are what Google calls Page Experience signals. CWV moves away from the traditional text-based ranking system and focuses more on UX. The Core Web Vitals Ranking Factor is even more important on mobile, due to the fact that usually, website speeds are not as high. 

How Big Will The Core Web Vitals Ranking Signals be?

Usually, one factor does not entirely disrupt your ranking and your SERP, Google has many ranking signals so one change may not be that great. That being said this change is quite a significant one and if your website is lacking in any of the three components it will suffer, and you will see a noticeable difference.

It all depends on the market you are in. If you are in a very competitive market then every little thing will count. Rest assured that your competitors will be looking at the new Core Web Values and will be implementing them to have a better page experience and be on top. If your website is suffering on many different fronts, looking at the Core Web Vitals Ranking Factor as the first thing may be a good strategy to start climbing the SERP.

This Google article is a good read if you want to dive deeper into why the Core Web Values change is so important. One of the first things that they mention in that article, and the main note that they want webmasters to take from this change is that webmasters should not view websites as simply pages. When a user goes online it is a journey and each website should be viewed as a different journey. Google wants to make the journey as smooth as possible with no delays, irritations and interruptions, such events may lead to user dissatisfaction. A quote from the linked article states as follows:

“These events, in turn, can lead to reduced satisfaction and abandonment of a site or the whole journey. In both cases, removing interruptions and obstacles is the key to a smooth journey and a satisfied user.”

In the same article, Google outlines a very important figure, stating that pages that meet the Core Web Vitals metrics, visitors of the website will be 24% less likely to abandon the site.

When Will The Change Take Effect?

The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted a lot of events, and Google updating their algorithm with Core Web Vitals is not exempt from this. They pushed the update back due to the pandemic while also stating that they wish to give webmasters time to prepare for the upcoming changes and adjust their websites according to the metrics set in place by the Page Experience signals.

Page Experience

Let us jump into the specifics of what the Core Web Vitals are and what they are measuring. As mentioned earlier the Page experience metric is built on three pillars or signals these are:

  1. Largest Contentful Pain (LCP)
  2. Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
  3. First Input Delay (FID)

It is important to understand what these three hold, what is exactly measured and how to measure. These three signals are important with regards to your website’s user experience, they all work together in order to create the best possible experience for people visiting the website.

Three Pillars of Core Web Vitals

Largest Contentful Pain (LCP)

Largest Contentful Paint LCP Diagram

In brief, this simply asks the question of how fast does the website load? More specifically it asks, how fast does your largest piece of content load? Whether it is the largest image or video, or text anything that is “heavy” on your website can slow it down.

Google is looking at how fast does the largest piece of content on your website load? This can be influenced by JavaScript, CSS, client-side rendering and others. According to Google guidelines, you should aim for the LCP to occur within the first 2.5 seconds of the page loading. Everything under four to five seconds of load time needs adjusting.

According to Google, these are the factors that affect LCP:

  1. Slow response times for servers – Think about optimizing your servers, cache assets, use a CDN and others.
  2. Render-blocking JavaScript and CSS
  3. Slow-loading resources – optimizing images is crucial, compress txt files, preload resources and others
  4. Issues on client-side rendering – Use server-side rendering, pre-rendering and minimize critical JavaScript

Google also offers various tools for you, in order to help you perfect your Core Web Vitals, tools that will help you find many elements which need optimizing. One of these tools is Page Insights, which offers a lot of data and assistance on Core Web Vitals Ranking Signals.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

Cumulative Layout Shift CLS Diagram

With this signal Google is asking, how fast is the page stable? This signal avoids users going on a website and having to wait for everything to find it placed prior to clicking on anything. This signal is there to avoid frustrations when clicking buttons when the page loads only to have to wait for a period of time then being redirected.

We can take ads on websites as a good example. Advertisements are usually the bread and butter of every website to get some more stable money but these are usually loaded so poorly that users get frustrated. Another example is when complex websites have a lot going on which take a long time to load all the content, this may usually cause CTAs to be around the screen. 

The Cumulative Layout Shift is there to stop these irritations and create a more seamless journey for the user.

First Input Delay (FID)

First Input Delay FID Diagram

Lastly, in the Core Web Vitals update, FID asks the question of how fast is the page interactive? It is not a good user and page experience when one clicks on something and nothing happens or something extremely slow happens. If you are looking to improve on your rankings of first input delay, usually JavaScript is the problem. More often than not, browsers cannot respond to input while they are executing JavaScript, by improving this you are improving your page experience score.

One of the things to keep in mind when thinking and discussing the first input delay is that you cannot measure the FID if your website does not have user interaction. Google cannot predict FID based on data they have at the lad, they need real-world data from real users.

How to Measure and Fix Core Web Vitals 

Now that you know what the Core Web Vitals ranking factors are, you need to know how to measure, check and fix them. Luckily Google has made it very simple for you to be aware of your page experience. The first thing you need to do is look at your Search Console, they can offer you a report which will give you information on whether your web pages need improvement, are well optimized or are of poor quality. From there you will know what to focus on.

Secondly, you will need the proper tools in order to fix these issues. Tools like PageSpeed Insights and Lighthouse. Page Insights is a full-service measuring tool that gives you advice on what to improve. Lighthouse is also a great tool to monitor performance, it has many audits that PageSpeed Insights does not have and also has some SEO checks.

Our Suggestions

Here at Search Pirates, we believe that keeping the correct channels to update yourself is vital. Be sure to be aware of what Google is doing, what Google is changing with its algorithms and how you should act. 

Change is constant so always be ready to change the content on your website and be ready to fix it. Do not be stuck in your ways and refuse to change anything, remember, Google will not hesitate to push your website down the SERP and increase another website. Do your own research on how to improve the website and find tools that work for you.

As we all know, seeing the results of optimization may take a long time, so be sure to update your website wisely and effectively. 

Secondly, we also suggest constantly being aware of what your competitors are doing. The marketing world is a fierce one and being conscious of what your competition is doing may give you an edge or may spark up an idea on how to beat your competition. Being aware of what Google is doing and using this to your advantage is already a step ahead of a lot of competition. Make sure to keep Google’s updates at the forefront of your SEO decisions.

Make sure to start optimizing early, if you know that the Cor Web Vitals is soon going to take effect, do not hesitate to start fixing your website. Things are constantly moving and so should your website.

Prior to the Core Web Vitals, we also suggest firstly doing research on how to increase your site speed, after doing the Core Web Vitals checks to see if your website adheres to the three signals. Below we mentioned a few examples of how and what to change.

Increasing Your Site Speed

Here we will be discussing WordPress site speed and what you should do to change and increase it.

  1. Run Site Speed Diagnosis:  Find out how fast your website loads is the first step to increasing speed. Constantly track your site speed, you can install a plugin to see this change.
  1. Delete Unused Plugins: Always keep your Plugins and also your themes up-to-date. That being said, make sure to delete any unused plugins because these can put a toll on your website. With regards to WordPress, plugins are used often to solve almost all the problems that may crop up, but having too many unused plugins will slow your load speed greatly.
  1. Media Library: Your media library will start accumulating over time. The more you use WordPress the more you are going to increase images in your media library. Consider removing unused media. You can clear up media manually or through plugins like Media Cleaner.
  1. Cleaning Database: Clutter will slow your WordPress website greatly. Your database can gradually increase clutter, and removing this will help your website. Cleaning your database can also be done manually while also downloading plugins to do it for you.
  1. Optimize Your Images: Your website can contain a lot of beautiful images and videos but they may be slowing your website down. Make sure to optimize these images for better load times. There are various ways you can achieve optimization on your images, compressing your images, adding alt text and titles and more.
  1. Choose the Right Theme: Make sure to choose a light theme, one which is fast to load. Not all themes are equal and some themes are written better than others. Rather than searching for a theme that is heavy on features try taking a more minimal approach, an approach that will not slow down the loading speed.
  1. Plugins – We mentioned you should clean up your plugins but there are plugins for everything, even for optimizations. WordPress has a massive ecosystem of plugins for you to use with regards to optimization, so be sure to search for ones to help your optimization. Some plugins include Perfmatters, WP Super Minify, WP and BJ Lazy Load.

Final Words

Google will implement the Core Web Vitals in order to increase the quality that is present in the websites. Quality with regards to page experience and user experience. The three signals are there to identify three important aspects of a website. It is imperative that webmasters follow these signals in order to maintain their SERP or to increase their SERP.

As stated earlier, the urgency for a webmaster to implement these changes resides in how quick and competitive the market they reside in is. If your company is in a hypercompetitive market we suggest that you do everything in your power to climb or remain at the top. The Core Web Vitals will help you in this matter. 

If you need more information on how to optimize your website and content be sure to get in touch with us! Search Pirates are committed to offering you the best information and optimization around.

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