Google Search, Core Web Vitals, and Your Website

| By Ian Joyce

What the latest change to Google’s search algorithm means and what you should do about it.

Google announced that this month Core Web Vitals will become part of their search ranking algorithm. This is a significant change that will have consequences for all websites and require attention to three performance metrics that make up Core Web Vitals. We’re ready to help our clients identify potential problems related to these changes and remediate them to ensure optimum site performance.

Illustration of people working on oversized computer screen.

What are Core Web Vitals?

Three components comprise Core Web Vitals. They can simply be described as:

  • Loading speed
  • Interactivity
  • Visual stability

The first is obvious: Loading speed is how quickly a page’s main content loads. Ideally, it should be less than 2.5 seconds.

Interactivity (or First Input Delay) is the time it takes before users can interact with the page. Google is looking for a delay of less than 100 milliseconds.

Visual stability (or Cumulative Layout Shift) is familiar to anyone who has watched elements of a web page unexpectedly move around as the page loads. An ideal measurement is less than 0.1, which means movement will be almost unnoticeable to users.

How will the addition of Core Web Vitals impact website search rankings?

It’s unlikely Google will immediately penalize sites that perform poorly. Fewer than 15% of all websites pass the Core Web Vitals benchmark test. Instead of a stick, Google is considering a carrot in the form of search result labels, indicating that the sites offer an excellent user experience for sites that do pass the test. In a sea of poorly performing sites, labels like these can be a strong differentiator.

How should site owners respond to this change?

Our recommendation is simple:

  1. Identify whether a website fails to meet the benchmarks.
  2. Prioritize a response to any problems that are discovered.
  3. Implement changes to remediate the problems. Changes may be phased in depending on priorities.

Google Search Console is an excellent starting point for understanding how a site performs and displays metrics for Core Web Vitals. Additional paid tools are available to help assess performance; we use one such tool for identifying problems, and the data we get helps prioritize the steps we take in response.

In the case of smaller websites, changes may be relatively simple. Larger sites may require a more organized, lengthy response. The sooner site owners know they need to make changes, the more likely it is they can create an advantage over competitors.

To learn more, contact our team for a quick chat about how your site might be impacted by these changes.


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