As most developers or SEO experts will already know, your core web vitals are a set of performance metrics that measure the user experience (UX) of your website. Google has now announced that in 2021 core web vitals will be a core ranking factor for their algorithm.

What is the core web vitals update?

Google is now going to join these core web vitals with other page experience signals such as mobile responsiveness, having a secure website, and any intrusive pop-ups. Google is moving further away from focusing just on the copy on your website and considering how the full experience is for a visitor across any device.

What impact will core web vitals have on organic search?

Core web vitals are going to affect all search results, including Google Top Stories which is moving away from the previously required accelerated mobile pages (AMP). You will now have to meet a minimum threshold of core web vitals in order to rank well, so this could have a huge effect on your brand.

As Google has so many ranking factors, it can be easy to think that these new elements won’t make much of a difference, but if your site is significantly lacking in one of the core web vital areas, it could have a huge impact on your ranking and, subsequently, performance.

Even without Google making it official, we know from case studies Google has completed that 24% of people are less likely to bounce off your site if the user experience is good.

What core web vitals should you be looking at?

When you are assessing the health of your site you should be looking at these three main factors:

  1. Largest contentful paint (LCP) - How fast does your page load? This is largely influenced by the render time, the image sizes, use of video and text in the viewport. This could be down to your CSS, server time, JavaScript, or the client-side rendering.
  2. Cumulative layout shift (CLS) - How fast is the page stable? This is when you go to click on a button but the page layout shifts just at the wrong time and now you are not where you wanted to be. The most common reason for this is the image sizes are not defined.
  3. First input delay (FID) - How fast is the page interactive? So, how fast can the browser produce a result after someone clicks on a CTA? This can be reliant on the JavaScript or a third-party code.

Quick wins for improving site speed and usability

Google predicts more than 80% of websites are unprepared for this core web vitals update. If you are looking to improve your organic growth or if you have a high proportion of organic traffic, here are some quick wins to help improve your rankings.

First of all, how do you know what actually needs improving? Search Console has a new core web vitals report which will show you all your URLs and how they index giving them a grading of ‘poor’, ‘needs improvement’ or ‘good’.

For any URLs marked ‘needs improvement’ or ‘poor’, you can then follow the link to the page speed insights report. When it comes to diagnosing the issue a technical SEO specialist or a developer will be best placed to pinpoint the specific issue you are having and how this might be resolved. If you don’t have one of these in house, Avenue Digital have an expert SEO team who would be happy to discuss an audit or ongoing retainer to make sure you keep on top of all Google’s ranking factors.

Some ways you can improve your site speed and user experience are:

  1. Using a software application for file compression can reduce the size of your CSS, HMTL and JavaScript files.
  2. Optimize images by making sure they are no bigger than they need to be - but ensure this doesn’t affect the image quality and make sure using images in the correct file format for web.
  3. Keep the number of page redirects to a minimum.
  4. Improve your server response time by looking at the performance bottlenecks such as lack of memory or slow routing.
  5. Leveraging caching and take advantage or return visitors not having to reload every single page they visit.

How can you future-proof your organic growth?

Working alongside a digital agency can ensure you keep on top of all the latest and greatest in technical SEO updates meaning your website and brand will never lose out. Get in touch today to discuss your needs and how we can aid your organic growth.

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