Did You Optimize for Core Web Vitals?

by | Jun 20, 2021 | Marketing, SEO

In the midst of the June core algorithm update, Google began pushing out its much awaited Page Experience update. This update, synonymous with most SEOs as the Core Web Vitals update, is aimed at rewarded websites with a great user experience. User experience can mean a number of different things, but in this context it refers to the page speed of a site and its ease of use for the user.

The Page Experience update is slated to be one of Google’s biggest algorithm updates in recent history and is sure to take its affect on websites ignoring their overall user experience.

What Is Page Experience?

Page experience is as simple as it sounds – the experience a user has when using one of your webpages. While we all know the days of Flash are long gone, there are still websites that go heavy on animations and have the potential to disrupt the user’s experience. These animations can cause significant delays in loading various elements of a page, create layout shifts and more often than not, they are not responsive on multiple device types.

Because Google wants to give its users the best experience, it’s now rewarding websites with a great experience.

Key Elements of the Update

There are two critical components that are apart of Core Web Vitals:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

Largest contentful paint broken down simply means how long it takes to fully render a page. This is where some websites could have issues if they use large images, excessive video content or too many animations. You want your pages to load as quickly as possible on all devices.

Cumulative layout shift refers to Javascript animations that cause elements of a page to disrupt the user. These animations have a tendency to distract the user, they might not always load properly and they can unintentionally hide certain areas of content. If it disrupts the user’s experience, you can bet Google isn’t a fan.

How Can the Average Site Owner Get Started?

First and foremost, webmasters will want to test their site through GTMetrix or Google’s own Pagespeed Insights. These tools look at a variety of things on a website and provide specific direction on what to fix. Pagespeed Insights grades a site on a scale of 1-100 for both desktop and mobile, while GTMetrix assigns a letter grade.

In our SEO testing with various sites, we’ve noticed a website scored with an “A” or a “B” have the best chance to rank in Google. Google sees these websites are trying to do the right thing for their users and wants to reward them accordingly.

Once you run a test on your site and understand the opportunities, the next step is to begin working through the issues on your site. Most commonly, you’ll find there are speed issues related to images, you’ll need to minify CSS, JS and HTML files, you may need to render some Javascript lower down the page (in the code – it doesn’t affect the user experience) and you may even need to consider switching web hosts if your server is too slow.

For website owners who are actively pursuing an SEO strategy and are concerned with their users’ experience, you’ll want to avoid inexpensive hosting platforms like GoDaddy, BlueHost, Host Gator, etc. These services are great for getting started with a website, but do not offer the quality needed to be competitive in Google.

Hiring An Expert

Of course, you can choose to hire an SEO expert to oversee the Page Experience update as it pertains to your website. All of our SEO plans include a technical analysis of a site, which looks to things like cumulative layout shift and largest contentful paint. Please feel free to reach out to hello@octivdigital.com and we’ll set up a free consult.

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