Quick Guide to Google’s Core Web Vitals SEO update

Just when you thought you had your site’s SEO under control,
Google announces they are rolling out new ranking factors, known as Core Web
Vitals (CWV).

But don’t panic just yet. SEO is not going to change, and
this is a good opportunity to check if your site is serving up the best
possible user experience, which is ultimately what both visitors and Google are
looking for.

So firstly, what are the Core Web Vitals, and secondly, what
action should you be taking? Let’s take a look.

The CWV are a set of three new metrics that Google will monitor
as signals for its search engine rankings. Note that there are certainly other
important metrics for your SEO, but these three are a little different from
typical SEO factors used in the past. They relate to speed, responsiveness and
page stability,  and the beauty of them is that they are very specific – “loading speed” for example can be measured in
different ways, but Google is now defining the metric more specifically, which
is actually super useful when you’re working on SEO.

So what are they?

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP). This relates to page
speed. You’re already optimizing for speed (or should be!) but LCP measures the
loading speed of the largest element on the page, measured in terms of screen
real estate.

First Input Delay (FID). This measures the time
before the user can interact with the page, such as by clicking a button. Developers
will be incentivised to build pages that get to the relevant interaction as
quickly as possible.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). There’s nothing more
annoying than trying to click on a button or field on a loading page only to
find it replaced by another element mid-click or while your finger is hovering.
At worst, you end up clicking on the wrong thing, only to waste more time
loading an irrelevant page.

What should I do about the Core Web Vitals?

First up, it’s easy to check how your site is stacking up through
your Google Search Console. You’ll find the new metrics prominently included
under Enhancements on the navigation column. Performance is given for mobile
and desktop, and each metric is flagged as Good, Needs Improvement, or Poor.

Once you’ve identified the elements holding back your pages,
you can start knocking them off. The good news is that if you have a large
number of pages with problems, there’s likely to be only a small number of
issues to be fixed. For example, compressing an image file may be all you need
to do to improve your LCP performance across all the pages that feature that
image.

In addition to the normal methods of speeding up page loading, fixing FID and CLS may involve a bit of page redesign. Good practice is to keep things simple, but you may need help from your developer if there’s a lot going on with your page and your Core Web Vitals need attention.

Overall, the addition of these new metrics will lead to
better page experience and gives you the chance to optimise and beat your competition.

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