How Core Web Vitals Will Be Used For SEO
Back in May 2020, Google unveiled the official Core Web Vitals – official metrics in which Google as a search engine will measure your website’s loading speed, interactivity and visual stability. Later in the same month Google, through their Search Central blog, announced that these Core Web Vitals will become a Google ranking factor in 2021 which will be known as the Page Experience update. In this blog, we will outline how core web vitals will impact websites and Manchester SEO in 2021.
As A Ranking Factor
Core Web Vitals will incorporate website speed, interactivity and visual stability as a ranking factor for Google search results. Although this sounds like a big change, Google actually already factors these things into a website’s rankings. The only major difference is that these metrics can now be better calculated by webmasters, with Core Web Vitals able to be tested through Google Search Console as well as the PageSpeed Insights tool. Because these factors are already included in a website’s ranking, we are unlikely to see any major volatility when Google releases the Page Experience update.
Despite this, we obviously do not know the weights that will be applied to specific parts of the Core Web Vitals. Will the all be equal? Will the speed be more important than visual stability? We don’t really know the exact weights given to any ranking factor in the search algorithms – but we do know that regardless of the weight for core web vitals, content and relevancy will always be the most important thing for search engines.
So we’ve already made an estimate that we won’t see a lot of volatility in the search results, so most websites won’t see their rankings go up or down with this new update. However, Google has announced that as part of the Core Web Vitals they will feature a little badge on the SERP for pages to indicate their status for core web vital optimisation. We don’t know whether this means a badge for websites that fail core web vitals, or a badge for websites that have majorly optimised for core web vitals etc. Recently we have seen Google testing a badge for this.
The main concern for webmasters with regards to a badging system on the SERP is how this will impact click through rates. Even if your website’s rankings doesn’t change with core web vitals, it’s completely possible that click through rates can drastically change depending on if and how Google decides to implement this new badging system. Some users may be drawn to websites that have the badge (if it’s a good sign) and therefore click on the websites that have the badge regardless of their position. On the opposite side, if the badge is an indication that the website fails core web vitals then they may see click through rates decrease although their position has remained the same.
It is still unclear as to whether Google will actually implement a badging system to showcase a page’s core web vitals scores, but what we do know is if there is a badging system, the main focus of optimising for core web vitals will be because of the badges – not because of the rankings.
Outside of SEO and rankings, the Page Experience is a welcomed update as a way to force websites to cater greater to user experience even if they don’t realise they are. This can be comparable to Google’s mobile-first focus in their updates since around 2015. These updates forced websites and big businesses to cater to their mobile users and ensure that they are given the same attention and focus as their desktop counterparts. With Core Web Vitals, many websites will now realise that their website speed needs improving, or that shoving adverts all around the page is not a good practice. By optimising for core web vitals, your website is also vastly improving the user experience in many different ways which is always a good thing, although it’s also something many businesses or websites are not prepared to do directly, so with the Page Experience update these people will be optimising for user experience without realising as they will be more focused on the actual metrics of the core web vitals.
To conclude, we can safely assume that websites will not see a major change in their rankings due to the Page Experience update because they are already ranking factors. On the other hand, Google’s experiments and plans for implementing a SERP-badging system for pages depending on their core web vitals may see big changes in click through rates for websites without their rankings being impacted. The update will also force many stubborn websites and businesses to improve their online user experience for website visitors, similar to how Google has forced people to improve mobile-friendliness and user experience for mobile users with some of their biggest updates of the last 5-10 years.