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Google's Core Vitals Update Banner

Expected in 2021, Google is introducing Core Web Vitals as a new component to its algorithm. Core Vitals are a set of real-world experience metrics that will join other user experience metrics that already exist, such as mobile friendliness, and usage of HTTPS.

Core Vitals work hand-in-hand with page speed, which has been a component of Google’s algorithm on desktops since 2010. Realizing the drastic shift in user behavior favoring smaller screens, Google extended its usage of page load speed as a ranking factor to mobile devices in 2018.

Google’s Core Vital expectations add another interesting wrinkle to both the web development and search engine optimization (SEO) management process and should be considered as essential items to review and address moving forward.

What Are The Core Vital Metrics Webmasters Should Be Concerned With?

Core Web Vitals consist of three new ranking signals, all of which contribute to the following:

  • How fast does a webpage load?
  • How long does it take for the page to become interactive?
  • How quickly does the webpage become stable?

In more technical terms, Google defines this trio of ranking factors as:

  • Largest contentful paint (LCP) Loading Time
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
  • First Input Delay (FID)

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)

This signal is determined by the speed at which the largest item in the viewport, whether that be an image, video or text loads on the page. Google is benchmarking a “good” LCP as anything below 2.5 seconds, and a “poor” LCP as anything longer than 4 seconds.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

Cumulative layout shift scores applied by Google interpret how much unexpected movement takes place on a webpage. In other words, how stable is it? Layout shifts occur anytime a visual element changes positioning from one rendered frame to the next and can be an annoyance to the user. To provide a quality user experience, CLS scores should be below 0.1. Anything over 0.25 is cause for alarm.

First Input Delay (FID)

FID relates to how long it takes for a page to start responding to user actions. When a user visits your home page, understands your site, and has a specific objective, such as clicking a button in navigation, the time it takes for that button to respond matters. Google recommends that pages should have a FID of less than 100 milliseconds.

Why Are Core Vitals Important?

Studies from Google indicate that pages that are already compliant with its Core Web Vital benchmarks are 24% less likely to see a user bounce upon arrival.

In most cases, the simple objective of any SEO engagement is to help qualified, conversion-ready users discover your brand for the first time through non-brand search terms. When users visit an unfamiliar domain for the first time, you want to make a good first impression.

  • On unfamiliar sites, a 2 second delay is enough in most cases to lead a user elsewhere
  • User satisfaction and retention drops with each delay when navigating nested menus
  • Studies show mobile users have an attention span between 4-8 seconds. If content fails to become interactive during this timeframe, the user’s attention is already somewhere else

Coupled with a well-defined on-page SEO strategy, brands can be confident they are appearing as prominently as possible in search results if they also prioritize a quality user experience that meets the technical expectations of Google.

How Do I Find Out Where I Stand On Core Vitals Now?

Unlike other aspects of Google’s ever-changing algorithms, core vitals are not a mystery. There are several ways webmasters can see where they stand on Core Vitals right now and act accordingly.

  • Google Search Console: Webmasters can view their current Core Vitals scores through their Google Search Console account, which breaks down performance at a URL-level for both desktops and mobile devices.
  • PageSpeed Insights This online tool from Google allows a user to plug in any webpage to view its current Core Vital standings, along with other critical page speed information and recommendations for your development team to make improvements.

What Do I Do If These Reports Are Concerning?

The complexity of correcting page speed and core vitals issues varies depending on how your website is built. As a full-service web development agency experienced in a wide range of content management systems with a team dedicated to digital marketing and SEO, SteadyRain can help your brand diagnose and correct any deficiencies related to page speed and Web Core Vitals.

With COVID-19 delaying Google’s implementation of these new ranking factors, now is a great time to contact SteadyRain for an assessment of your website’s core vitals, and get a plan in motion to resolve them, before they impact your rankings.

Contact a SteadyRain strategist today

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