Later this month Google will start using new ‘page experience’ signals in ranking. The new page experience signals combine 'Core Web Vitals' with their existing search signals. If you aren’t paying attention to these new page experience metrics, you’ll need to take action to ensure that your competition doesn’t start stealing your position in SERPs.
Core Web Vitals are becoming ranking signals in May 2021. This update will mean that Google will include both new and existing user experience (UX) related signals when ranking your sites.
The ‘page experience’ signals coming into play this month will include Core Web Vitals and the following signals that we already know (and love!)
- Safe Browsing
- Intrusive interstitial guidelines
Let's recap those we already know...
This is interchangeably termed mobile-friendliness, mobile-readiness or mobile responsiveness but regardless of what you call it, your website needs to be optimised for mobile devices.
There are tonnes of online articles we could recommend to find tips and tricks to make your website pass the mobile responsive test, but here is our favourite.
Your website should already be mobile responsive or you could already be suffering in terms of ranking, but if it isn’t, this should be the next thing on your to-do list.
To see if your website is mobile friendly in Google’s eyes click here.
Safe Browsing is a service that Google's security team built to identify unsafe websites across the web and notify users and webmasters of potential harm. If your website is unsafe, users will see a warning message and be diverted away from your landing page.
Your site may be highlighted as unsafe if you have any malware or unwanted software on your site, or if it engages in any social engineering.
To check your site’s Safe Browsing status you can view Google’s transparency report here.
HTTPS, the lock icon in the address bar, an encrypted website connection—it’s known as many things and is crucial for your site. The “S” in HTTPS stands for “Secure”. It’s the secure version of the standard “hypertext transfer protocol” your web browser uses when communicating with websites.
Installing an SSL certificate is the crucial first step to making your website secure. If you have built your website in the White Label Dating Design Tool, White Label Dating automatically apply an SSL certificate to your page - and we cover the costs!
Intrusive Interstitial Guidelines
An interstitial is any content that visually obscures the page content. This can frustrate users because they are unable to easily access the content that they were expecting when they tapped on the search result.
This can be problematic on mobile devices where screens are often smaller. If you have any of the below on your website, you may be ranked down for the use of intrusive interstitials.
- Popups that covers the main content, either immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results, or while they are looking through the page
- Standalone interstitials that the user has to dismiss before accessing the main content
- Layouts where the above-the-fold portion of the page appears similar to a standalone interstitial, but the original content has been inlined underneath the fold
You can learn more about intrusive interstitials here.
Now we’ve recapped the ranking factors that Google is currently using when deciding where to rank your pages, let’s move on to the new ranking signals that are coming into play later this month…
Core Web Vitals
What are Core Web Vitals?
Core Web Vitals are designed to measure how users perceive the experience of interacting with your landing pages - these include the page load speed, page responsiveness, and visual stability as content loads. The aim of these is to ensure people get the most helpful and enjoyable experiences from the web.
Specifically, these three components are defined as the Core Web Vitals:
- Largest Contentful Paint
- First Input Delay
- Cumulative Layout Shift
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
This is the time it takes for a page’s main content to load. It’s the measurement of how long a browser takes to render the largest text or image block in the viewport. More simply, it estimates how soon users can see above-the-fold content. An ideal LCP measurement is 2.5 seconds or faster.
To improve your page’s LCP our key recommendations are to optimise your images. Image size can make a significant difference to your page load. Before adding images to your site you should ensure that they are .JPG files and also file-size optimised by using tools such as compressjpeg.com or wecompress.com
More tips on how to improve LPC can be found here.
First Input Delay (FID)
The first thing to do to improve First Impact Display is to compress files, including images, and remove any unused CSS code.
For guidance on how to achieve this click here.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
This is the amount of unexpected layout shift of visual page content. It stops a visitor accidentally tapping the wrong button when it annoyingly shifts under their finger. It's mostly caused by unstructured images, dynamic ads, embeds, and web fonts and can be improved with aspect ratios, reserved ad space, precomputing space for embeds, and preloading web fonts. An ideal measurement is less than 0.1.
To learn more about improving CLS click here.
We recommend following the article above to check your page’s mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS-security, and intrusive interstitial guideline. You can then work towards improving your Core Web Vitals.
While we spend a lot of time focusing on optimising keywords, mobile experience and back links to improve our quality scores and rankings, focus needs to shift towards Core Web Vitals.
We don’t know how much of an impact Core Web Vitals will have on our ranks, but we do know that Google is paying a lot more attention to on-page experience. This goes hand in hand with SEO and it can’t be ignored if you want to beat your competition and keep your rankings.
Since Google announced the upcoming changes, they have reported a +70% increase in people engaging with page speed tools, such as PageSpeed Insights, and many site owners using Search Console’s Core Web Vitals report to identify opportunities for improvement.
If you haven’t already done so, it’s your turn!
Here are our recommended helpful tools and testing guides:
Test your page speed
Download the Google Chrome extension
This has three core features:
- An ambient Badge to help check if a page passing the Core Web Vitals thresholds.
- Detailed drill-down in the popup to view each metrics require attention.
- An overlay which displays a heads up display (HUD) over your page for a persistent view (this cane be switched on and off).
Download the extension here.
In addition to the links referenced throughout this article, we’d recommend checking out these guides:
- Complete Core Web Vitals Guide from SEO Hacker
- Core Web Vitals report from Google Search Console
If you have any questions about this article please contact our Partner Team via email@example.com.