Google Core Web Vitals
Web Vitals is an important new development in SEO. We’ve put together this article to help explain what the web vitals are, why you should care and how Silktide is adapting to this new development.
What is Web Vitals?
Google’s aim when providing search results is to give the user with the most relevant and satisfying answer to their query. Because of this, user experience factors – like whether a site loads quickly – are already an important part of where a site appears in organic search results.
Web Vitals is an initiative by Google to provide a consistent and repeatable way to measure how users experience the websites we build. These numbers already appear in various Google tools including the Search Console and Lighthouse.
Google has announced that these will become ranking factors in the near future, but they have also said we will get a notice period. This is an unusual move from Google who normally make updates to their search algorithm with little or no consultation to the industry.
The three Core Web Vitals
Three key metrics are considered the “Core web vitals” and allow us to measure the user experience of our visitors.
We’re all quite familiar with website loading speed and why having a faster website is important to maximise conversion. However, there are numerous ways to measure it – each of which will give you a different result.
For Core Web Vitals, Google has settled on Largest Contentful Paint – the time taken for the largest element to appear on screen (such as a large image or block of text).
As a website loads, scripts on the page (such as a map component or analytics plugin) can cause the site to be “busy”. During this time, the site will not respond to any user inputs – such as a click, or filling out a form. This is frustrating for users who can see the content they’re looking for, but cannot yet interact with it.
In Core Web vitals this is measured using First Input Delay – which is the longest amount of time (in milliseconds) the visitor’s device was busy for (during the page load).
It can be extremely frustrating for users if the content on a web page jumps around. A good example of this happening in practice would be ads on a newspaper article:
- The web page partly loads, enough for the visitor to start reading the article they came to the site for
- Later in the page load, a large advert is inserted at the top of the article, causing what has already loaded to shift down the page
- The user loses their place and gets frustrated
But ads aren’t the only example – large images and map plugins are other common examples of elements that could cause the page content to jump around during page load.
A well designed and built website will avoid this problem entirely by “saving space” for each element – so as the page loads in nothing jumps around.
To measure this phenomenon in Web Vitals, a calculation called Cumulative Layout Shift looks at how large the elements that move are, and how far they move.
The impact for you
So now you understand what Core Web Vitals are, but you’re probably wondering how this impacts you and the customers you serve.
As I already mentioned, Google has publicly stated that the Core Web Vitals will become key ranking factors in the near future, so it’s important to:
- Understand what these factors are, how they’re calculated and why Google is introducing them
- Get a picture of how your current websites perform and what impact these changes will have. This will inform whether you need to make changes to your tool chain and production process
- Train sales agents to utilise the opportunity this change provides
As always, Silktide is ready to help support you as you adapt to these new ranking factors.
How can Silktide help sales agents?
Starting today, you can enable a beta version of our Core Web Vitals test in your Silktide Prospect account.
We run the latest version of Google’s Lighthouse tool on the business website and present the results alongside the other factors in our comprehensive audit. Just like the rest of our reports, we take the key factors and present them clearly without technical jargon.
We’d love to hear your feedback on this new check, so please try it out and let us know your thoughts as we’re always looking to improve.
As Google has thankfully given us a 6 month lead-in period to this becoming a ranking factor, there is ample time to plan how you can introduce this to your agents and train them on these changes. As always, Silktide can support you in this activity too. If you’d like to know more, just reach out to your Customer Success Manager.
How can Silktide help me understand my current user base and competitive position?
Silktide’s batch testing service can provide Core Web Vitals metrics (as well as a whole lot more) for all of your current clients. This is a fast and cost-effective way to get a picture of how your existing clients perform, and see how you stack up against your rivals. Our data can inform key decisions and help you to:
- Understand how the sites you are producing will perform in the new Web Vitals check
- Fix any badly performing outliers before the customer notices, and create a pro-active narrative for existing clients
- Compare how your sites fare against your competitors to support sales & marketing messages
If you’re interested in batch testing your client base, just reach out and we can provide a tailored proposal for this service.
Past changes to the Google search algorithm have triggered a flurry of activity from affected website owners and SEOs looking to recover lost rankings and to capitalise on the new factors. I don’t expect this update to be any different, and I predict there will be a drive to optimise websites to pass the Web Vitals assessment. However, due to the advance warning this shift may be more spread out – only time will tell.
It’s also worth noting that Google have said that the Web Vitals will evolve over time to reflect the changing nature of the web – so you should expect these metrics to be refined and changed over time. Of course, Silktide will adapt accordingly to stay abreast of industry best practice.