All you need to know about Core Web Vitals and SEO Rankings!

Google has recently announced a few updates, as usual these are updates to its free systems with the inclusion of elements such as Core Web Vitals, and then the fore-warning that Google will be rolling UX ranking factors into its algorithm at some point in 2021.

The timing of these changes and announcements are not coincidental and the tools on offer should be used to identify areas of improvement on a website and build a strong foundation for users (and a business) to achieve what each is respectively setting out to do online.

Is this the end of Page Speed Insights?

Core Web Vitals sits within a Google Search Console account and runs systematically to identify key areas of technical performance for a site (across all pages).

The three main metrics within this are:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
  • First Input Delay (FID)
  • Cumulative Shift Layout (CSL)

For those who have used Pagespeed Insights in the past, this data might seem familiar – essential Core Web Vitals is merging points to understanding the data clearer in GSC, as opposed to eradicating Page Speed Insights (or Lighthouse tests) completely.

For auditing and understanding the technical performance of a website this provides an opportunity for a top-level health check, with further data audited to determine where common errors are seen.

In terms of whether this signals the beginning of the end of Page Speed Insights, this remains to be seen, but this does signal the start of the tool evolving beyond a quick test and trace type approach into the code and therefore towards how the code, animations, fonts, rendering and caching impact how a user searches, clicks and ultimately interacts. As mentioned above, this fits nicely into the fact Google are going to be rolling out a new algorithm change in 2021.

What does this mean for a website?

Effectively the upcoming update from a website and strategic perspective should be considered when moving forward with any site changes in the coming month that were already scheduled, but more than this should form a core part of any SEO strategy being built for 2021.

The reasons being:

  • Improve the performance of the site at a business level: understanding how to improve websites from a business perspective should be at the core of all SEO agency work. Eventually, UX will sit directly within an SEO campaign, switching three pillars of success to four – Onsite, Offsite, Technical, UX. For the most part, recommendations from an agency will cover UX points, but the development of core web vitals suggests separate mini-campaigns, or time on account should be spent specifically understanding website and user behaviour and it’s impact on search rankings, not just conversion points.
  • View pain points for users based on different elements of crawl data: The above point follows on to this – why are users not buying? Is it a technical problem or a layout problem? Are targeting the right keywords? Is your product fit for purpose? All of these queries are asked throughout any ongoing SEO campaign – the difference again here is, how are the answers to these questions impacting my rankings and ultimately ROI of SEO projects.
  • Structure technical SEO campaigns alongside website development changes: Now more than ever it is imperative SEO agencies and web developments sit alongside each other and work for a common goal of removing 404 dead ends, redirect errors, speed issues and so forth. Further, to this there is a need for a UX audits and updates to pages be accounted for within strategy, and systematic changes and edits made and tested in line with other marketing channels and goals.

Summary

With this update and launch of core web vitals, as well as an unexpected major shift online as a result of Covid-19 – SEO will have a greater role to play in all elements of business performance in 2021, and Core Web Vitals could be the key to that.

 

Polaris is an award-winning SEO agency in London specialising B2B, e-commerce and the healthcare industry.

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