Googles Core Web Vitals Update: What to know and how to prepare

June 01, 2021 | 8 min read

Googles Core Web Vitals Update: What to know and how to prepare

1.Quick read

Google’s first major upgrade of 2021 is on its way, and it may have a significant impact on the page ranking signals. The main web vitals that Google considers essential influence the way blogs, SEO and SEM tactics, and content are structured. Given how much industry has moved to the digital world, these updates are bound to have a significant effect.
Google had planned to upgrade the main search algorithm in May 2021 but now opted to wait until later this year. While we don’t know when the reforms will be implemented, it appears that it will begin in mid-June and end in August 2021.
Google does not usually send businesses early notice of algorithm changes, much less postpone them to give them more time to plan. It’s done both with this upcoming release. Understandably, someone whose company relies on consistent search rankings is concerned. But how important will this change be in terms of traffic (and therefore conversion)? What’s the safest way to get ready?

2. What are core web vitals

The three individual metrics that make up the overall page experience are referred to as core web vitals:
  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
  • First Input Delay (FID)
This is a set of indicators that Google can use to evaluate a user’s web experience.
Largest Contentful Paint measures loading performance (LCP): This can be complex, but it all boils down to how easily the largest item completely loads. More specifically, the time it takes for the first page to load and the largest image or text block to become available to the user is calculated. This can take no more than 2.5 seconds for a decent user experience.
First Input Delay is a measure of interactivity (FID): Have you ever been annoyed by a website that isn’t responding? We’re sure you’d accept that waiting for a website to answer after you click on something isn’t a perfect user experience. As a result, websites would need to optimize for this metric. The estimated delay between which a user presses the button and when the website responds is less than 100 milliseconds. Anything less than that is unsatisfactory.
Cumulative Layout Shift is a metric for visual stability (CLS): From the user’s view, seeing something on the website move suddenly, let alone vanish, is very irritating.

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It can also result in major errors for businesses where a consumer has to make a decision but, due to a change, accidentally clicks on the wrong button. A website’s average style change must be less than 0.1 to keep users and Google satisfied. A variety of tools are available to evaluate the website’s Core Online Vitals.

3. How to measure web vitals

Since May 2020, Google’s Search Console has contained a Core Web Vitals report. The study provides a high-level analysis of your content’s performance around all three metrics.
Core Web Vitals can be measured using five Google apps. Some of these, such as the PageSpeed Insights tool, incorporate lab data (how a prospective consumer would likely experience the content) and field data (real-world data on how visitors actually experience the content).
Others provide only laboratory data or only field data.
When used in combination, these methods provide the granular insight and input needed to identify and solve issues:
  • PageSpeed Insights can diagnose both lab and field problems, and the API can manage a large number of URLs at once. (Excellent for SEO teams determining target pages and the competitive landscape.)
  • Lighthouse, Chrome DevTools, and the Web Vitals Extension will assist the technical team in making and testing updates in offline environments.
  • Chrome UXReport can be used to create a personalized dashboard that provides a more granular and immersive way for you and your team to track notifications than Search Console.

4. What exactly is core web vitals update

For quite some time, Google has been testing web experience—that is, how users perceive their interaction with a page. However, the search engine has only used the following signals to make its decision so far:
  • mobile-friendliness
  • absence of malicious content
  • a safe connection
  • no obtrusive interstitials (pop-ups)
This is a positive start, as it is simple gatekeeping to exclude highly questionable material. It implies that currently, results are screened for material that is dangerous or made virtually unusable by intrusive popups or unnavigable templates. The real experience that consumers would have on the “passed” pages may also be questionable.
The upcoming Core Web Vitals upgrade will add a new layer of signals to the list above by evaluating the quality of the user’s interaction with the page. It will do this by applying three new metrics to the above-mentioned page experience criterion, which will focus on:
  • load speed
  • interactivity
  • visual stability

Core Web Vitals promises to improve the browsing experience.

These three Core Web Vitals should directly correlate if you’ve been surfing the web on any device, but particularly your smartphone. They’re some of the most significant roadblocks to a pleasant browsing experience.
Nobody likes content that takes forever to load, buttons, sliders, or toggles that aren’t instantly interactive, and content that moves about unpredictably and dizzyingly as it loads.
As a customer, it’s easy to support improving the bar to eliminate these negative interactions. But it’s unsettling to think that your content, which is normally deserving of a top slot, might not make the cut.
Google does not like it either. On its development services website, it has a dedicated Web Vitals section that goes over each metric in great technical detail, shares tools for calculating them, and offers tips for optimizing Core Web Vital ratings.
These are the stuff we believe you need to know as a decision-maker in your organization to help your teams get ready.

The page’s performance will be graded on a scale of one to ten

The Core Web Vitals are graded on a scale, as one would expect from a more complicated metric. The goal scores for each parameter are as follows:
  • LCP: < 2.5 seconds
  • FID: < 100 milliseconds
  • CLS: < 0.1
You Might Be Interested In: Magento 2 Speed Optimization Services
Google then assigns a rating of “good” to pages that rank below the mark and a rating of “needs improvement” to “poor” to those that do not. Google’s documentation uses a traffic light style to make it a little easier to understand:

The content must be compliant 75% of the time.

Google would look at the 75th percentile of page loads to determine a ranking for a page – in other words, 75 percent of page loads must fit into the target to pass.
Google goes into great detail about how they arrived at the points of these scales: To arrive at these figures, they mixed what we know about existing human perceptions of computers (for example, how long we’re potentially willing to wait for content to load) with user interface data from “the field” (i.e. how long we actually wait before abandoning a page).
The cutoffs they’ve settled on (and which we’ve shared in the graphic above) place approximately 10% of existing web content in the “strong” category and 10%-30% in the “bad” category.

Core Web Vitals aren’t a quality filter; they’re the compass for user interface.

Core Web Vitals are a major departure from the crude and simple quality management metrics that have previously comprised Google’s user interface requirements. Those are used to filter spam. This is a lofty goal.
Core Web Vitals can appear to function like a filter due to their thresholds. But the bigger picture is this: Google is unambiguously raising the benchmark for quality and providing us with a quantifiable way to measure and evaluate user experience. Google is suggesting, with these Core Web Vitals, that your performance is currently low. It ought to be up here.

5. How to Forecast the Impact of the Core Web Vitals Update

Although the Core Web Vitals update may cause rankings to change, it is not a departure from Google’s simple aim. It’s simply Google getting better at what it set out to do from the beginning: serve relevant content on a fun website. What is interesting is that the platform’s pleasantness would now be more important than ever.
In practice, this means that content that is useful but on a low-performing page will be outranked by content that is slightly less useful but on a better-performing page.
So, in order to gauge the effect on your websites, you’ll want to see how your main pages compare to those of your rivals.

Make a list of the high-risk pages.

Begin by identifying the most important search assets:
Which of your pages has been bringing you the most organic traffic?
And which of your organic entry pages has resulted in the most of your conversions?
The two data sets may not be different, and depending on the industry, you may choose one over the other, so make sure you weigh them.
Next, learn about the kinds of queries that are bringing in that organic traffic:
How much of the organic page traffic is branded?
How much of the organic page traffic comes from non-branded sources?
The pages that get a lot of traffic from non-branded searches would be the most vulnerable. The traffic drop would be noticeable if they are outranked in the upgrade.
However, don’t get too comfortable with your branded traffic. If you’re in an industry where third-party platforms are now aggressively competing for your brand identity (for example, a hotel that would compete with third-party booking sites), your branded traffic could be at risk of being overtaken as well.

Identify the competitive situation

Now that you know what the flaws are, it’s time to figure out how serious the vulnerability to those pages is.
To begin, determine the types of organic queries (keywords) that are bringing traffic to those pages. Then, for each of those keywords/queries/pages, generate a list of the top 3-5 competitors.
Finally, conduct a Core Web Vitals audit on all rivals’ top content alongside your own to see if your content compares to theirs for LCP, FID, and CLS.

Putting all together

You should have a matrix that compares high-value pages to competitors and helps you to easily define a priority order for improvements based on your findings:
Your team can start making improvements now that they have a greater understanding of the impact and the required urgency.

6. How to prepare for web vitals update

Now that you’ve defined your goals, it’s time to build a team of experts and get to work. This would be a conversation with the front-end and back-end production teams, as well as your Search experts. Depending on the setup, you can need to hire a page speed and layout expert.
There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution. Your platform, as well as the design and production history of your sites, will dictate the required response.

Adapt trial and error method

Start from the most vulnerable pages to see what can be done to improve them. It’s also doubtful that the first move would fix all problems. Prepare to make compromises and review pages in order to incrementally boost the indicators. By approaching this as a long-term health plan for your website rather than a quick-fix crash-diet, you can better form priorities, plan resources responsibly, and, most significantly, ensure long-term stability.

Understand what you can avoid prioritizing.

If there is some content that you don’t think would ever play a significant role in generating traffic from google, it could be better saved for later. The Key Vitals metrics will also be useful for adapting content so that you don’t neglect customers due to a bad experience, but you won’t have to treat the scores as gospel for those lower priority pages.

Make a contingency plan.

If there’s a risk that any or all of the key pages will see a temporary drop in traffic (which there almost always will), make sure you have a contingency in place to replace it with traffic from other outlets.
Get the SEO, PPC, and social departments on board with this so you don’t waste time, such as by creating extra landing pages for campaigns where you can direct traffic to your search-optimized content. Or losing out on organic traffic as a result of a demand created by a social campaign.

Continue to optimize

It may be between the lines, but Google is implying that the bar will continue to be raised as consumer preferences grow, by meticulously explaining how it calculated the initial thresholds in the Core Web Vitals metrics.
So, for the near future, expect to devote some time to Core Web Vitals-focused enhancements. And if all of the main pages are within the goal limit, it will be a good commitment to continue to push the teams to find opportunities to make pages exceed targets. That way, as today’s “nice” becomes tomorrow’s “needs change,” you won’t be playing catch-up with Google’s algorithm.

Conduct a Site Audit

To begin, you can use Google Search Console to review your URLs and see a simple graph of the pages that need enhancement. You may also use Page Speed Insights to test every URL and get recommendations about how to speed it up. Both of these are free Google apps that will help you fine-tune your site in preparation for the Core Web Vitals upgrade. You may also use SEMrush’s excellent Site Audit Tool to conduct a general audit of the website and obtain a Core Page Vitals report. Chrome’s web vitals extension and Lighthouse Audit, accessible from Chrome Developer Tools, are two other solutions.

Ongoing training of SEO

The factors that affect your SEO are constantly evolving. That is for certain, the Core Web Vitals update will not be the last. Overall, Google is focusing on consumer search intent and using Natural Language Processing (NLP) to prioritize not only keywords but whole sentences, which it interprets to determine what users really seek. Make sure you’re aware of all the factors that can affect your SEO.
Remember that Google ranks pages based on over 200 cues, and the Core Web Vitals user experience is just one of them. Tweaking your URLs to reach high scores will help your SEO, but nothing beats excellent content that is both useful and well-structured. Follow Google’s recommendations, track web metrics, and include high-quality content to enhance customer engagement while growing your brand.

7. In the end, what matters is what is on the inside.

Regardless of how much the quality of experience actually dominates the SEO agenda, it is the quality of the content that can pack the most punch. Overall, it’s extremely doubtful that Google will serve bad content just because it’s on a fantastic website. Much of this adds up to a poor experience.
The direction remains the same for everyone participating to create successful digital content:
We can weather this turbulence just fine as we continue to stick to delivering content that serves our users—by offering them content in a way that is so issue-free that they don’t even care about the user interface.

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Jun 1st, 2021|
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