No, there’s not an echo in here, and you’re not seeing things—this is our second post about core web vitals. The first time we told you about them it was to help you answer these questions: What are core web vitals? And what should I do about them? What we didn’t spend a lot of time on was the who and the when, which is no easier to provide an answer to you today than it was yesterday.
Well, that’s not entirely true. We know the who (it’s you and Google and us). We know the what (core web vitals). But the when is still up in the air.
Let us summarize, in case the details have passed out of your memory and into shadow.
Core Web Vitals, and Back Again
Core web vitals are the thrumming heart of the world wide web, the steady pulse of a reliable internet. Vital is the word of the day, because just as a doctor might record the core vitals of a human being, Google takes the temperature, blood pressure and heart rate of every web page it indexes. If you care about the SEO of your website, that means these vitals are important to you, too.
The health of the web is, basically, how well it functions. If your pages load fast and their layout is stable, your vitals are looking pretty good.
A simple summary of these vitals is the health of your web pages, but we can dig a little deeper.
Taken together, these factors are called part of the “page experience.” Google takes three basic factors into consideration to determine the vital page experience during its semi-regular crawl of the web:
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
Google takes a look at the largest asset on your page (usually an image) and measures how long it takes to load (or “paint”). If you’ve ever visited a page that has one big image that takes a foot-tappingly long time to pop up on your browser, then you probably agree with Google: it’s really annoying.
Here at DOM, we typically recommend auditing the timing of your LCP with Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool or Pingdom from Solarwinds, but there are others worth using, too, like GTMetrix, YSlow, and Uptrends.
First Input Delay (FID)
Most web pages have interactive parts. They don’t have to be big or fancy to make an impact. Even that little, itty-bitty login form with its two fields (for user id and password) can sink your rating faster than a hobbit in the Dead Marshes.
The first input delay is a measurement of how long before the interactive element on your page can be, well, interacted. Yet again, speed is what you might call the “vital” factor.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
Your web pages are all rock-solid and stable and never shift around at all, right? Of course they are and no they never! So you won’t have to worry about this vital measurement at all, which checks how quickly the layout of the page stabilizes. If you’ve ever tried to click on a page only to have a link appear where you clicked, you know it can feel like the earth moving under you.
Why Are We Talking About This Again?
We’re getting to that, hold your horses. Last year, Google announced that it was modifying its ranking algorithm. Isn’t that nice of them? They didn’t have to tell us anything. They could have just made the change and never told anybody, but they were nice enough to warn us with plenty of time to spare.
Telling site owners about this algorithm update is well within Google’s best interests. Google knows that making a specific factor matter more than it did before will change the landscape of the internet. If people like us know that a change is imminent, we can optimize our pages in light of the coming changes and so achieve better rankings when the algorithm update starts crawling all over our websites.
The big news for us today is that the rollout we expected to happen this month is not happening this month (May 2021). Instead, the core web vitals update is expected to roll out in mid-June and continue until late August, as announced in a detailed blog post. This gives site owners a few more weeks of time to update their webpages, and companies like Direct Online Marketing a few more weeks to remind their clients how important this core web vital update is.
Things like page speed and user interaction were always important, but this update means that these ranking signals will be more important than ever before. Core web vital scores, as measured by tools like Google’s Lighthouse, will measure the time it takes for pages to load, what happens during the loading, and shuffle its search results accordingly. You’d better hope your site passes the test.
Tidy up your site’s core web vitals (LCP, FID, CLS) to provide a superior user experience and therefore rank higher on Google SERPs. Make it a habit to assess and improve your site’s core web vitals. This isn’t the last change Google will make to their algorithm, so get ahead of the game now.
Make sure the core web vitals of your landing pages are up to snuff. Your paid ads direct people to a page on your website after all. Google hasn’t directly commented on the effect of core web vitals on paid ad rankings, but it stands to reason that a landing page optimized for LCP, FID, and CLS will lead to a better quality score than a page that isn’t optimized for these core web vitals.
If you’d like help making sure your page is ready for what’s coming, get in touch with us today.