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Powderkeg Web Design
May 7, 2021

The Next Google Ranking Factor: Core Web Vitals FAQ

The Next Google Ranking Factor: Core Web Vitals FAQ

You may have heard the buzz surrounding this most recent Google update, as it’s related to multiple aspects of measuring user experience and website performance.  In this article, I’ll cover some frequently asked questions regarding Google’s Core Web Vitals platform. 

What is it?

This update is adding a new ranking component based on Google’s “Core Web Vitals” performance metrics. Which is their framework for tracking the performance of website and user experience, primarily with a focus on speed of content delivery. 

Why are they doing this?

Google has always been looking to provide the best search results for its users. That’s WHY we prefer to use Google over their competitors. They’ve given us better results than Yahoo, Ask Jeeves, AltaVista, etc. 

This is not the first time that Google has released a metric and ranking component tied to user experience. Many marketers likely remember Google adding ranking factors for:

  • Content Quality
  • Mobile-Friendly Design
  • HTTPS and SSL Encryption 
  • Accessibility and Usability 

These Core Web Vitals metrics are just the latest addition for them to measure user experience of a web page. Which in turn, can help them find the best result for their users. 

What are they measuring?

Simple answer: how quickly a user can view and interact with a web page.

Long answer: They have three components of web page speed that they are tracking as “web vitals” in this update. Each one tracks a specific component of how fast a user can view and interact with a web page on your side. 

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): measures loading performance. This is a measure of when a page first appears with content. To provide a good user experience, LCP should occur within 2.5 seconds of when the page first starts loading. 
  • First Input Delay (FID): measures interactivity. This is the time it takes for a user to begin interacting with content on a page. To provide a good user experience, pages should have a FID of 100 milliseconds or less. 
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): measures visual stability. This means that content should load around the same time and not “shift” too much as it appears. To provide a good user experience, pages should maintain a CLS of 0.1. or less. 

How do I check my site?

The best way to check your website for Core Web Vitals metrics is through Google’s tools. Google Search Console has a custom report that will provide an ongoing list of pages that are flagged for web vitals issues. To learn more about how to optimize a specific page, you can analyze it through a PageSpeed Insights report. 

How do I improve my scores?

First, a caveat – it’s important to keep in mind that the scores are all relevant to your site, it’s programming features, and it’s content. Google’s own ecommerce website ranks poorly on many of the web vitals measures, as they utilize heavy scripts and features to promote and sell their products. So while it’s important to strive for good metric scores, it’s not realistic to aim for total perfection. 

The most common items that we see having a negative impact are slow servers, lack of caching, and third party tools or embedded scripts. But you’ll want to review your individual page reports to see what is suggested for your site in particular. Our team at Powderkeg is happy to help as well. 

How big of an impact on rankings will this have?

This update will probably have very little effect on rankings for the average search term. Remember that Google uses hundreds of ranking factors, and items like link authority and content are still going to reign supreme. But that doesn’t mean that Core Web Vitals are not important. Beyond search engine rankings, having a website that loads quickly is part of overall website performance and user experience for your audience. 

Where can I learn more?

The best place to learn more about Core Web Vitals is from Google directly. They have a nice website setup that walks you through these metrics in more detail here. If you have any questions specific to your site, just let us know!