Google’s algorithm is changing in May 2021 and, unusually, there has been plenty of advance warning about this change to include “Core Web Vitals” as rankings factors. So now is the time to get your website ready to take advantage of the change.
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Google uses more than 200 factors when deciding where to rank any single web page in the search results.
In May 2021, 3 new metrics will be added to this list of ranking factors making user experience more important than ever. Google has taken the unusual step of announcing this algorithm change in advance and now reports these metrics in their free tools. This is a clear indication of the importance of the update.
The key thing for businesses to remember is that meeting the minimum requirements of these new metrics will give website visitors a better experience, making them more likely to become customers.
There are 3 technical terms for these measures, which we outline on the next page but, simply put, they are all about how quickly a visitor can see and interact with a web page (e.g. by clicking a button). These metrics are a more refined instrument to measure page experience than the page loading speed.
LCP – Largest Contentful Paint
One factor in a poor user experience is how long it takes to see something on the screen. One measure of this is First Contentful Paint (FCP) which is how long it takes to see the first piece of content on a page, but a better measure is LCP, which is how long it takes to see the largest element on the page, such as an image or text block, which is usually the most important from a user perspective.
FID – First Input Delay
This measures the time it takes for the browser to respond to a visitor’s first interaction with a website such as clicking a button. The speed of response can be impacted by the user’s device or by the web page itself being slow to respond.
CLS – Cumulative Layout Shift
This is a score that measures how often different parts of a web page move from their initial position to their final, stable position. An example of a layout shift is when a section of text appears first then an image is loaded above it – pushing the text further down.
What to do next…
- Check for warnings or errors in the “Core Web Vitals” section of Google Search Console for your website.
- Take action to resolve any warnings or errors now – well in advance of the algorithm change in May 2021. The free Google tool PageSpeed Insights provides recommendations on how to improve individual web pages but you will need the help of a web developer.
- Remember the other important factors when it comes to page experience for website visitors:
- Use a secure protocol for data transfer i.e. https
- Ensure web pages are mobile friendly
- Avoid intrusive popups