There is a new ranking factor in the city: Core Web Vitals. This algorithm change announced by Google is expected to include some details in 2021 that you should know. Cyrus Shepard is diving on the Whiteboard Friday this week.
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Greetings, Moz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. I'm Cyrus Shepard here at Moz. Today we're talking about the next official Google ranking factor – Core Web Vitals. What do I mean by official ranking factor?
Google makes hundreds of changes every year. Every week they introduce new changes to their algorithm. Occasionally they announce changes in the ranking factor. They do this especially when something is important or when they want to encourage people and webmasters to make changes to their website in advance. They do this for important things like HTTPS and other signals.
So this is one that they actually announced. It's confusing for a lot of people, so I wanted to try to demystify what this ranking signal means, what we can do to diagnose and prepare it, and basically get to a place where we're ready for something happens. So what is it? Big first question.
What are core web vitals?
So these are real experience metrics that Google looks at and answer the following questions: How quickly does the page load? How fast is it interactive? How quickly is it stable? When visitors use your website on a mobile or desktop device, what does this experience look like in terms of speed, how quickly can they interact with such things.
Now it joins a group of metrics that Google calls page experience signals. It is not really a standalone. It is grouped with these Page Experience metrics that are separate from the text on the page. So these are signals like cell phone friendliness, HTTPS, intrusive interstitials, the popups that appear and appear.
It is not so much about the text of the page, which is traditional ranking signals, but rather about the user experience and how it is, how pleasant it is to use the page, how useful it is. These are especially important on mobile devices when the speed is sometimes not that high. Google measures that here. So that's how it is.
Where will that affect the ranking?
Well, it will affect all regular search results, mobile and desktop, based on certain criteria. But also, and this is an important point, Core Web Vitals are becoming a criterion for publication in Google Top Stories. These are the news results that typically appear at the top of the search results.
Previously, AMP was a prerequisite for appearing in these top stories. AMP goes away. So you still need to meet the requirements for regular Google News inclusion, but AMP will no longer be required to appear in top stories. However, you must comply with a minimum threshold for Core Web Vitals.
So that's an important point. This could potentially affect many ranking results.
When will it happen?
Well, Google told us that this will happen sometime in 2021. Due to COVID-19, they have pushed back the publication within the algorithm and want to give the webmasters extra time to prepare.
You promised us to get ready at least six months in advance. At this point in time, we have not received this six-month notice period. If that is updated, we will update this post to let you know when it will be. Whenever Google announces a change in the ranking factor, the big question is:
How big will the change be?
How much do I have to worry about these metrics and how many results will Google SERPs shift? Well, it's important to remember that Google has hundreds of ranking signals. Therefore, the impact of a signal is usually not that big. That said, if your website is particularly bad on some of these metrics, it can make a difference.
When you're in a competitive environment and competing against people for competitive conditions, they can make a difference. Based on past experience with other ranking signals, it probably won't be very big, but it is still something we want to address, especially if you do pretty badly.
The other thing to consider is that some Google signals have an overwhelming impact beyond their actual ranking factors. Things like page speed are probably a pretty small signal, but when users experience it, it can have an overwhelming impact. Google 's own studies show that for Pages that meet these core web vitals thresholds are 24% less likely to be visited by visitors.
Even if Core Web Vitals is not an official Google ranking factor, it can still be important as it offers a better user experience. Twenty-four percent means getting 24% more traffic without doing anything by making your website a little more user-friendly. Even without that, it's probably still something we want to consider.
Three signals for Core Web Vitals
Therefore I would like to briefly go into the special features of the Core Web Vitals that they measure. I think people are a little attached to it because they are very technical. Your eyes are glassy when you talk about them. So my advice would be that we don't go into the real details. But I think it's important to understand in layman terms exactly what is being measured.
More importantly, we want to talk about how to measure, identify, and fix problems if they are wrong. So there are three signals that are received in Core Web Vitals.
1. Greatest content color (LCP)
The first being largest content color (LCP). This basically asks lay people how quickly the page loads. Very simple concept. So this is heavily influenced by the render time, the largest image, video, and text in the viewport.
All of this can play a role. How fast does it load?
2. Cumulative layout shift (CLS)
The second, cumulative layout shift (CLS). With this question, Google asks how quickly the page is stable. Now I am sure that we have all had an experience where we loaded a page onto our phone, clicked a button, and it moved in the last second, and we hit something else or something in the page layout with an unexpected layout shift.
This is a bad user experience. This is exactly what Google measures with the cumulative layout shift. How quickly is everything stable? The main reason that things are not stable is that the image sizes are often undefined. So if you have an image and it is 400 pixels wide and high, you have to define it in HTML. There are other reasons as well, such as animations and the like.
But that's exactly what they measure, cumulative layout shift.
3. First Entry Delay (FID)
How to measure and repair
Let's focus on what's really important. If you have a problem, how do you measure how to deal with Core Web Vitals and how do you fix them? Google made it very, very easy to discover. The first thing you want to do is look in the search console. You have a new report there – Core Web Vitals. They tell you all of your URLs that they have in their index, whether they are bad, in need of improvement or good.
If you have URLs that are bad or need to be improved, you want to investigate what is wrong and how you can improve these pages. Each report in the search console is linked to a report in Page Speed Insights. This is probably the most important tool you can use to diagnose your Core Web Vitals problems.
It is supported by Lighthouse, a set of performance metrics tools. You want to focus on the possibilities and the diagnosis. Now I'll be honest with you. Some of them can get pretty technical. You may need a web developer who is a page speed expert or someone else who can easily solve these problems if you are not very technical.
We have a number of resources here on the Moz Blog that deal with page speed. We'll link to these in the comments below. But in general, you want to use these opportunities and diagnoses to improve your Core Web Vitals score and get them out of bad values that need improvement. If you don't have access to the search console, Google has made these reports available in many, many tools on the Internet.
You can of course run a lighthouse for each side. Chrome Dev Tools, the Crux API. All of this is available and resources are available to help you figure out exactly how your website works with Core Web Vitals. We have until 2021 to solve these problems. All right, that's it.
These are the most important web vitals in a nutshell. We have more than six months left. Getting ready. At least dive in and see how your website works and see if we can make some simple profits to keep our websites up to date. Well. Thanks to all.
Video transcription from Speechpad.com