Google is the only major platform provider that has to grapple with an ecosystem it doesn’t own. Apple can do whatever it wants on the Apple platform, on Amazon and Facebook / Instagram it also looks very similar: closed systems with full control.
However, carrying this architectural disadvantage, Google Progresses: Google dominates the market for desktop browsers with Chrome and the market for Android smartphones. Is Core Web Vitals New Ranking Factor?
Smaller Mountain View initiatives are also heading in this direction, but luckily they are not all there to restructure the Internet as AMP. For some time now Google has been pushing the use of SSL very strongly by pushing for mobile websites.
Since Google cannot simply force website owners to change, the search engine operator relies on other methods, such as better Google rankings. The use of SSL has already become a ranking factor and the ease of use of mobiles on websites has also reached this status.
In recent weeks, Google has announced in a blog post that it will add page experience as a ranking factor. In addition to the well-known wishes for the use of HTTPS, safe browsing, ease of use of mobiles, and the absence of annoying banners or interstitials, 3 new values will be added next year: Core Web Vitals.
What is Core Web Vitals?
With Core Web Vitals, Google wants to establish a series of metrics so that the user experience of a page is measurable. Google focuses here on technical performance issues. Core Web Vitals is based on 3 elementary metrics with which Google wants to make the page/user experience comparable. These are the three measures:
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
The first Core Web Vitals measures how long it takes before the main content of the website is visible to the user in the browser. Whereas in the past attention was paid to the first appearance of content (First Content Paint / FCP), now progress has been made and the time it takes for the main content to appear is measured.
The time between the request of the page and the appearance of the main content in the browser is measured in seconds. Google gives us the following ratings for the metric:
- Good – less than 2.5 seconds
- Needs improvement – up to 4 seconds
- Poor – more than 4 seconds
First Input Delay (FID)
Try to measure how quickly the user can interact with the page. When a page loads, users typically want to interact with it: fill out a form, zoom in on images, or just click a link – the First Input Delay measures how well it works.
Specifically, the time lapse between the interaction and the point at which the browser reacts to this interaction is measured.
- Good – less than 0.1 seconds
- Needs improvement – up to 0.3 seconds
- Poor – more than 0.3 seconds
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
The last of the three Core Web Vitals metrics deals with the visual stability of a web page. Increasingly complex web pages load parts of the content in the background (asynchronously) to keep loading times low for the user. If these loading processes are not coordinated, this can cause page content to jump while the user is already trying to read it.
This metric is the least intuitive: Google essentially measures how often items that are already visible are subsequently moved and weights them based on how far they move ( more details ).
- Good – less than 0.1 seconds
- Needs improvement – up to 2.5 seconds
- Poor – more than 0.25 seconds
Google has already announced that the composition of Core Web Vitals does not have to adhere to the 3 metrics presented now, and expressly reserves the right to modify them. However, the changes will be announced, and there will be plenty of time to adjust to any new metrics.
How will Core Web Vitals be measured?
There are two fundamentally different approaches to measuring Google Core Web Vitals: the first is so-called lab data. Synthetic measurements are carried out under self-controlled circumstances.
Laboratory data (lab data) have the advantage that they are reproducible, that is, they always give the same result, as long as the circumstances and parameters are not changed.
Lab data is particularly well suited for debugging and continuous improvement of your own website. For example, we recently switched performance measurement Optimizer to Google Lighthouse- based lab data collection. Based on this, you can reliably track how changes to the website affect Core Web Vitals settings.
The second approach is to use so-called field data. The respective individual Core Web Vitals values are measured and evaluated by actual users of your website.
The advantage of user data is that it better reflects the actual user experience. However, Core Web Vitals enhancements only appear after a delay. There are also factors over which the website operators have no direct influence. Despite this, Google has announced that the Core Web Vitals New Ranking factor will be based on field data.
How to improve Core Web Vitals?
While the discussion so far was relatively simple, now we come to the unpleasant part: the actual work. The bad news right at the beginning. There is no easy solution to improve Core Web Vitals.
Google has extensive documentation on Core Web Vitals online and also outlines typical improvement options for each metric. Typical key factors are:
- CLS: Resize images and video elements, do not automatically insert content on top of existing content, use animations that do not trigger design changes. ( read more )
In practice, the Core Web Vitals improvement follows a process of periodically checking your website metrics based on lab data and then checking at longer intervals to see if the (theoretical) improvements also apply to the users (field data).
Core Web Vitals New Ranking Factor as from 2021
Google has announced that Core Web Vitals did not become a factor ranking before next year. They have also committed to an additional notice six months before the specific date when it will happen.
The Mobile-First Index change was only recently postponed from September 2020 to March 2021. Therefore, Core Web Vitals is likely to become a ranking factor in the second half of 2021.
However, it is not advisable to put off the task for too long. On the one hand, Google is pushing improvements that will also help you outside of pure SEO: faster and easier-to-use websites not only make Googlebot happy but also your real users.
On the other hand, improvements to Core Web Vitals are technically complex and will likely take time. Additionally, it will take longer before the effects of these improvements are seen in the field data.
What we say: better to start planning and acting now than in 6 months. Maybe Core Web Vitals will become New Ranking Factor.