What are Google’s Core Web Vitals, and what do they mean for SEO?

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Google is constantly tweaking its algorithm which dictates how well websites perform in organic search.

There are many different ranking factors, from the words on your page to how fast your site loads, the amount of traffic you get to how long people stay on your site. All of these factors build on top of each other to give Google a picture of how user-friendly your site is. The easier it is to navigate, the better, and the higher you’re likely to rank in search.

Google is set to double down on this in May, and will be rolling out new performance signals to judge sites. This could have a big impact on the SEO industry, as well as how every website ranks in search, so we’re taking a look to see what can be done ahead of time to get ahead of the curve.

How Google’s Core Web Vitals will impact search rankings

Google’s Core Web Vitals will be launched as part of Google’s Page Experience Update, so if you’re looking to outrank your competitors in search, now’s the time to start optimising your website to climb those search rankings.

Google has always been concerned with how user-friendly, responsive, and helpful sites are, this is just the latest iteration of what they’re looking for when it comes to performance. As always when it comes to Google, they’re looking to reward sites with a good user experience.

Once this is rolled out, sites with healthy metrics will have a little icon next to their URL in search, sort of like a verified tick but for Google, which may become synonymous with a good user experience.

If you want your site to be number one in Google, you need to be following these metrics, and making sure your site is healthy, fast, and providing value to your visitors.

What are Google’s Core Web Vitals?

Largest Contentful Paint

This is the time between the start of a page load to when the largest image or text block is loaded.

I’m pretty sure ‘contentful’ isn’t a word, but since Google can more or less call this whatever they want, we just have to play ball.

This should happen in under 2.5 seconds. The less time it is, the better.

First Input Delay

This is how long it takes for your pages to actually become responsive to clicks after they load in. This should take less than 100 milliseconds.

If users can’t engage with your site quickly, they’re more likely to bounce, to leave and go somewhere else than wait for your site to load.

Google tracks this, and will move sites that don’t perform lower in search, so it’s crucial your site can keep people engaged and clicking.

Cumulative Layout Shift

This is how much your page features move around while the page is loading. If you have a lot of banners or pop-ups, that causes the content blocks on your page to move around, which can be jarring for users.

Your CLS (cumulative layout shift) score should be as low as possible to ensure a good user experience and a positive ranking boost from Google.

All these elements impact the overall user experience, and Google has always ranked sites based on this. While you should still try to optimise your on-page SEO in terms of keywords and heading tags, you must also make sure your site is fast and easy to navigate.

Crucially, Google has said that sites must meet the minimum criteria across all three areas before they can expect a ranking boost.

How do Google’s Core Web Vitals mean for your SEO?

If your site is slow, you won’t rank

Given how we use the internet now, slow sites are almost a thing of the past. Think back to the last time you were on a site took more than two seconds to load – either you can’t remember because it hasn’t happened for months, or you got annoyed and went somewhere else.

It’s more important than ever that your site loads quickly. There are ways to improve any website’s speed, from cutting unnecessary assets to shrinking file sizes.

If your site is clunky, you won’t rank

Your site shouldn’t overload visitors with pop-ups, banner ads, or videos. It is also has to be mobile optimised. Fewer and fewer people are using desktops for browsing, and Google’s mobile-first approach means you can’t afford to have a site that doesn’t perform well on mobile.

Some start ups aren’t even bothering to create desktop versions of their websites when they launch now, opting to focus entirely on the mobile experience instead.

It’s possible to rank higher in search thanks to Core Web Vitals

The good news is that with some relatively minor tweaks to your site, you can likely expect a reasonable boost in search rankings if you jump through Google’s hoops, but really everything they’re asking for correlates with a good user experience that you should be providing anyway.

SEO has always been about trying to figure out what Google wants, but also about helping the end user who is visiting your site. The two go hand in hand.  

While these aren’t the only ranking factors to take into account, they will start to have a big impact on how your site (as well as your competitors) will appear in search, so the sooner you start looking into your site’s performance, the sooner you can start making changes to improve how you rank in search, and get more traffic, leads, and conversions.

Get in touch with Eulogy today to start an SEO campaign and boost your search rankings.

  • Jack Terry,
    Content Manager