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New Ranking Factor: What are Core Web Vitals?

Google are continually refining their algorithms and ranking factors to be providing the best search results for users. Google is introducing a new ranking signal, which combines Core Web Vitals with existing user experience signals to evaluate the user experience on a page.

What are Core Web Vitals?

Core Web Vitals were first introduced towards the beginning of June 2020 but won’t be fully implemented until 2021 at least, they are a set of metrics related to speed, responsiveness and visual stability.

Google has defined the following as the Core Web Vitals:

  • Largest Contentful Paint: The time it takes for a page’s main content to load. An ideal LCP measurement is 2.5 seconds or faster.
  • First Input Delay: The time it takes for a page to become interactive. An ideal measurement is less than 100 milliseconds.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift: The amount of unexpected layout shift of visual page content. An ideal measurement is less than 0.1.

Google states that:

“Core Web Vitals are a set of real-world, user-centred metrics that quantify key aspects of the user experience. They measure dimensions of web usability such as load time, interactivity, and the stability of content as it loads”.

What are the new Page Experience signals?

The new page experience signals include Core Web Vitals, but they also include:

  • Mobile friendliness
  • Safe browsing
  • HTTPS-security
  • Intrusive interstitial guidelines (pop-ups essentially)

Google states that:

“The page experience signal measures aspects of how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page. Optimising for these factors makes the web more delightful for users across all web browsers and surfaces, and helps sites evolve towards user expectations on mobile.”

What does Page Experience Signals and Core Web Vitals mean for SEO?

By introducing these features Google intends to encourage site owners to build pages that have a better user experience. If Google decides that a page is providing a high-quality user experience, then that page is likely to rank higher. This doesn’t mean that content is no longer important.

Google states that:

“A good page experience doesn’t override having great, relevant content. However, in cases where there are multiple pages that have similar content, page experience becomes much more important for visibility in Search.”

So, making sure to have a page that is optimised for the user and has good, informative, high-quality content is important. If your webpage’s content is on a similar level as another’s, the one with the better user experience will ultimately come out on top – so it is important to optimise for both ranking factors.

How do I measure page experience score?

There is no one tool to measure page experience, but there are tools to measure the individual components that make up user page experience.

  • Core Web Vitals – Google Search Console, Lighthouse, PageSpeed Insights, Chrome DevTools and Chrome UX report.
  • Mobile friendliness – Google mobile-friendly test.
  • Safe browsing – this can be checked within Google Search Console in the Security Issues report.
  • HTTPS – If a page is served over a secure HTTPS connection then it will display a lock icon in the browser address bar.

When will these changes happen?

If you haven’t already begun working on optimising your website for these changes, then there’s no need to worry as they won’t be implemented until early next year. Google will provide a six-month warning before any changes are made.

How we can help!

Here at Fluid Ideas, we have an expert digital marketing team on hand to help maximise your website’s potential and help boost your website’s rankings. If you want to find out more, feel free to email becky@fluid-ideas.co.uk.