Core Web Vitals Update: What It Means for Your SEO in 2021

Posted by Elma Mrkonjić

At the end of last year, Google announced that it would be making an important Core Web Vitals update to its web search ranking signals. In May of this year, CWVs are taking center stage when it comes to search engine ranking.

In this post, we’ll look at what Core Web Vitals are and how you can adapt to the shift.

What Are the Core Web Vitals?

The CWV for 2021 consist of three basic ranking signals:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) | How long it takes for your site’s primary content to load. For top results, keep this measurement to 2.5 seconds or less.
  • First Input Delay (FID) | How long it takes for your page to be interactive. Ideally, this should be less than 100 milliseconds.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) | How much unexpected layout shift occurs when it comes to your website’s visual content. Keep this under 0.1 for the best results.

Core Web Vitals

These three signals tell Google more about the basic experience that a visitor has on your site. Fast load times, page stability, and responsiveness are all critical elements in this equation.

How Do I Check My Core Web Vitals?

Google provides a stunning array of free SEO tools and metrics. With so much data, it’s challenging to know which are the best for your needs.

These particular changes are best approached with the use of a few well-established tools. We suggest starting in your Google Search Console. Get your free Core Web Vitals report to identify areas to improve upon. Bring it home by using Page Speed Insights and Lighthouse.

When it comes to the Core Web Vitals update, Google suggests using an AMP framework to optimize your pages easily. The company will also start allowing non-AMP pages to appear in Top Stories from May. As long as your page matches the Google News requirements, it could feature there.

If your page performs better than most in terms of experience, AMP or not, it will get a priority ranking.

How Do I Fix Core Web Vitals Issues?

Running a site audit through your Google Search Console will give you valuable insight into each factor. Generally, however, here are some tips on where to start:

  • Remove unused CSS or Javascript elements
  • Convert your images from JPEG to a newer format like WebP or JPEG 2000 to allow better compression
  • Reduce initial server response time by upgrading from shared hosting to a virtual private site hosting
  • Ensure that all the links on your website are crawlable
  • Re-evaluate your content to see if it needs to be upgraded to keep visitors glued to the page
  • Check for any broken links and fix them

Google will also combine these three CWVs with page experience signals.

Google Page Experience Update

Page experience signals include:

  • HTTPS Security: If you don’t have the basic SSL certificate yet, arrange to get one now. Google already prioritizes sites with HTTPS security protocols installed. As page experience becomes more critical, expect this to ramp up.
  • Mobile-Friendliness: Many webmasters learned this lesson the hard way after the “Mobilegeddon” update a few years ago. Recheck your page’s performance on mobile devices to ensure that you get this right.
  • Safe Browsing: Another aspect to keep an eye on during the page experience update by Google is safety. Installing malware protection is the first step in keeping your website clean. After that, it’s essential to check your Google Search Console regularly to ensure that the search engine hasn’t picked up signs that your site is compromised. If Google provides you a warning that your site is unsafe, act immediately to prevent traffic loss.
  • Intrusive Interstitial Guidelines: Intrusive elements, like large pop-up ads, have been on Google’s naughty list for some time now. Going forward, Google insists on having no adverts that block the website content.

Google SEO Update: Are All These Elements More Important Than Keywords?

That’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? Keyword research still plays a significant role in ranking your page. With the upcoming changes, it’s important to recheck how well your keywords rank. This doesn’t need to be complicated. SerpWatch provides a free, simple tool to assist you in this.

It’s best to perform a keyword audit now and then monitor the rankings regularly. 

What Other Changes Does the Core Web Vitals Update Bring?

Search results in the future will probably have labels relating to the page experience on each site. Google is said to be working on improving the user experience for its clients. Therefore, it will likely place some sort of visual to show which pages meet all the requirements.

That’s a double hit if your site doesn’t meet these guidelines. Firstly, Google won’t feature it prominently. Secondly, searchers are more likely to concentrate on the pages that have Google’s stamp of approval.

To see where your site stands today, check Google’s guide to the free tools it provides.

Google’s Core Web Vitals Update 2021 | The Takeaway 

Google updates often leave a trail of destruction in their wake; however, the company is now announcing the planned updates beforehand. This gives us all a chance to prepare for the coming changes. Add in the suite of Google analytics tools, some logical changes, and your website will be ready to go in no time. 

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