Core Web Vitals: What You Need to Know in 2021

Core Web Vitals: What You Need to Know in 2021

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For a while now, better user experiences have been an important ranking factor in the eyes of Google. Studies and research by Google found that users prefer sites with a great page experience. No real surprise, there.

However, instead of sitting on this information, Google is placing a greater focus on Core Web Vitals (CWV) this year. This is all about making “the web more delightful for users across all web browsers and surfaces”, which should improve engagement and contribute to business’ SEO success. Let’s take a look at what Core Web Vitals are and why businesses need to be prepared for May 2021.

What are Core Web Vitals?

Core Web Vitals are a set of metrics that cover a website’s speed, responsiveness and visual stability. In other words, they’re important factors that contribute to user experience. 

Google itself described the concept in the following way:

“Core Web Vitals are a set of real-world, user-centered metrics that quantify key aspects of the user experience. They measure dimensions of web usability such as load time, interactivity, and the stability of content as it loads (so you don’t accidentally tap that button when it shifts under your finger – how annoying!)”

CWV can shift as time goes on and what users class as a “good page experience” changes. For now, the 3 Core Web Vitals as defined by Google are:

  1. LCP – Largest Contentful Paint: The time it takes for the largest content element to appear on the screen. An ideal LCP is 2.5 seconds or less.
  2. FID – First Input Delay: The time it takes for a web page to become interactive, which ideally should be less than 100ms.
  3. CLS – Cumulative Layout Shift: How much visual content unexpectedly shifts around the page. A good measurement is less than 0.1.

What’s all the fuss about May 2021?

In May 2021, we can expect a core algorithm update that will use Core Web Vitals as a major ranking factor. As the next step in Google’s focus on internet speeds and website load times, it’s important that businesses pay attention.

The roll-out follows increased interest in UX, with 70% more users engaging in Lighthouse and PageSpeed Insights.

In addition to the Core Web Vitals mentioned above, the following existing search signals will still be taken into account:

  • Mobile friendliness: Sites optimised for mobile devices
  • Safe browsing: Sites are free of malware and security issues
  • HTTPS: The protocol represents a secure connection
  • No intrusive interstitials: No disturbing pop-ups that cover site content

Why it matters for your business

Now you know what to expect from the May algorithm update, you can get prepared. Making sure users interact with your content and have a speedy, positive experience, can mean the difference between a conversion and a bounce.

When you don’t optimise your website’s load time, a few things happen. The buying decision of 70% of consumers will be impacted, and your conversion rates will drop by around 4.42% with each second that passes.

That means it’s time to ask yourself: Are my core vitals up to scratch? Unfortunately, there’s no blanket solution to making sure page speed and interactivity are optimal, since each CMS and online store platform works differently. 

You can, however, use PageSpeed Insights and other reporting tools to check that the following levers for each Core Web Vital are optimised:

  1. LCP – server response time, loading time for CSS, images and fonts, and rendering 
  2. FID – code from third parties, JavaScript run time, volume of server requests 
  3. CLS – size of images and videos, stable size of preloaded elements, space for potential advertising

Get a site analysis from Abstract Digital

If you’re not sure how to optimise your site for the May 2021 algorithm update, we can help. Our team of SEO technicians carry out in-depth site analyses to ensure CWVs meet the expectations needed to rank.

Just send us a message for a quote.

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