Google only installed a new core update in May. Since then, site operators have had to carefully check whether and how the placement of their site in the SERPs has changed. But that’s not all: Google has now introduced the so-called Core Web Vitals. These are key figures that evaluate the user experience of a website.
We show which key figures website operators now have to evaluate and what effects these have on ranking and SEO.
What are Core Web Vitals?
With the Core Web Vitals, Google provides uniform quality signals that reflect the user experience on a website. In other words: site operators can use the key figures to classify and evaluate the user experience of a website. In essence, it is about the loading process of a page, the interactivity on a page and the visual stability of a page.
Google is introducing these key figures for this purpose:
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): This metric measures the duration of the loading process until the main content of a page is loaded. The search engine specifies 2.5 seconds or faster as the ideal value.
First Input Delay (FID): FID describes the time it takes for users to interact with a website – for example, click a button. The search engine specifies a value of 100 milliseconds or faster.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): The key figure CLS measures how stable the layout of a website is and whether individual layout elements shift during use. Google specifies an ideal value of 0.1 or lower.
Google wants to expand and supplement the metrics that make up the Core Web Vitals in the future. The values should not be set in stone. If the user’s expectations of the experience on a website change, the search engine wants to adjust the metrics accordingly.
Where can I measure the Core Web Vitals?
Site operators can use the Web Vitals in
- the Search Console,
- the PageSpeed Insights,
- the Chrome DevTools,
- the Chrome UX Report and
- the Web Vitals Extension
Recall. Google wants to integrate the Web Vitals into the respective analytic tools gradually. According to Google, site operators do not have to be performance experts in reading the metrics in the tools. For them, the challenge lies more incorrectly assessing the data from the Web Vitals and improving usability based on them.
For widely used CMS such as WordPress, the search engine provides specific information about which settings or plugins cause problems and how they can be resolved.
How do the core web vitals affect SEO?
Google plans to introduce a new ranking factor – the Page Experience Signal. This should combine the core web vitals (Largest Contentful Paint, First Input Delay, Cumulative Layout Shift) with existing user experience signals. Google calls these signals:
Mobile-friendliness: Site operators can check mobile-friendliness using Google’s mobile-friendly test.
Safe Browsing: The Security Issues Report in the Search Console tells site operators whether there are any problems with safe surfing.
HTTPS Security: If website operators use a secure HTTPS connection for their website, they will find a small lock next to the URL.
Intrusive Interstitial Guidelines: Put simply, intrusive interstitials are pop-ups that cover a large part of the content or even all of the content of a page. The only exceptions here are legal or ethical requirements that require a pop-up. This can be an age verification, for example.
The page experience signal should be based primarily on technical factors. Content-related aspects are not included here. That means: factors such as content and keywords are still decisive in order to place yourself well in the rankings.
In practice, this means that a website with particularly relevant content can still land in the first place even though the page experience signal is weak. However, if two pages are of similar relevance in terms of content, the page with the better Page Experience Signal can take a higher ranking.
Site operators should use the Page Experience Signal for SEO optimization, therefore, take into account. However, you shouldn’t focus too much on this. Convincing, relevant content with added value beats – at least in theory – the user experience.
When will it be introduced?
The new ranking factor is currently still at an early stage of development. Site operators can assume that this will not influence the rankings until next year. However, Google is already giving an insight into its plans to prepare it for the changes that are coming.