The working world all but ground to a halt in 2020, but some businesses were better equipped than others to keep running and delivering their products and services. One such business – Google, and in some ways, they have truly benefitted from more people being at home and browsing online – because more searches equals more data, more data impressions and more to work with.
Google are continuing with their usual regular update schedule through 2021, it’s to be expected. The most recent update which has been publicly announced is to take place in May 2021, and there’s one major change – relating to Core Web Vitals.
What Are The Latest Google Changes?
Google’s May update was technically announced in May 2020; it’s just that now they’re giving a date to it going live.
This change refers to the way Google ranks searches and is updating its criteria for high rankings to include page experience signals; that is, the way a website’s pages work as well as the content they include. Three of these signals are ‘Core Web Vitals’ and the other three are UX (User Experience) metrics.
This essentially means that websites are no longer just given a high ranking based on their content’s quality, quantity and relevancy, but also on its user experience. Whilst not completely confirmed yet, it’s also planned that Google will offer some kind of visual representation next to results who perform well on Core Web Vitals metrics – likely a small icon or different colour result.
The Google Core Web Vitals update means that if not already included in digital marketing strategics, marketers and developers need to move to include the optimisation of webpages into their plans, in order to stay well-ranked for those searching for them, their industry, their niche and their products or services.
What Are Core Web Vitals?
Google’s Core Web Vitals are three metrics that measure the performance of a webpage. These metrics are:
- Speed of loading – The LCP (Largest Contentful Paint). This measures the time it takes for the main content on any given page to load. The ideal LCP for a Google ranking needs to be quicker than 2.5 seconds.
- Interactivity opportunities – The FID (First Input Delay). This measures the time it takes for a page to become interactive. The ideal FID for a Google ranking needs to be less than 100 milliseconds.
- Visual layout shifting – The CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift). This measures the amount of unexpected shifts of page layout, if any. The ideal CLS for a Google ranking needs to be less than 0.1.
What Are Ranking Signals?
Ranking Signals are all of the signs that a website gives to Google in order to justify and assert its place in SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). There are many of these, and each tells Google’s algorithm what a website is about, how current it is, how relevant it is to various search terms, and how trusted it is, amongst other things. In the case of Google’s May 2021 update, the Core Web Vitals will be joining four existing Ranking Signals related to UX. These are:
- Mobile responsive – how quick and well formatted the website is to smaller device access
- Safety measures – that the website doesn’t include any deceptive or malicious code or threats
- HTTPS security – the site is secured and delivered over HTTPS protocol
- No intrusive interstitials – that the page is optimised for easy accessibility
Why Is This Change Important To Businesses?
Google is the biggest search engine in the world and appears in many forms other than just on google.com – so if a business’ web presence is likely to fall down the rankings as a result of Google updates, it needs to be rectified, quickly. At present, only around 15% of websites online at present would fit the new guidelines well, but that’s not to say that the standards are unrealistic.
Businesses can view this update as an opportunity to improve; not just up search rankings but also in their wider UX online.
What Can My Business Do In Preparation For This Update?
Google had released tools for businesses to prepare for this update back in May 2020, but they’re still available to access for any who haven’t implemented them already.
If work into preparation for the Core Web Vitals update is not already underway by your digital marketing team, it needs to be begun as a priority. If you don’t have a specialist supporting you with your business website, our web designers at Woya Digital would be more than happy to help!
Google’s Site Console report for Core Web Vitals allows businesses to gain a basic overview of website performance against the key three metrics, to highlight any areas for improvement and offer explanations for any issues. From here, the PageSpeed Insights and Lighthouse tools can help to fix any identified issues. What’s more, web.dev has a whole directory of tools relevant to identifying and improving website performance related to Google Core Web Vitals.
AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) is another, albeit now external to Google, tools for businesses to improve on UX metrics with their websites. Businesses who are existing AMP Publishers can use the new AMP Page Experience Guide for diagnostic advice relating to Google Core Web Vitals. Google continues to support AMP content in its search results and says itself that the AMP software helps users “achieve great page experiences”.
Why Do Google Keep Making Changes?
Google has always been focused on being the best search engine in the world. That aim is continuing even through their market dominance.
Every time a new search is made on Google (and that’s about 3.5 billion times a day), their developers gain new data on how best to optimise results and improve their search experience – and including Core Web Vitals in their Ranking Signals is another way to do just that.
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