webcore vitals
A Business Owners’ Guide To Core Web Vitals

If, like many, you have heard the phrase Core Web Vitals but are not exactly sure what they are or mean for your business, read on. We’ve prepared this guide just for you.

Core Web Vitals are new measures from Google that will change your website’s relationship with Google’s algorithm. Even if you outsource digital marketing, as a business owner and leader, this is a change you can’t afford to ignore. The Google algorithm is the tool used to rank your business’s place in their search results. Get things right and you will be easy to find. Get things wrong and… well… you might not be.

In November 2020, Google announced that they would be making a change to their algorithm this year. They also said they’d reflect these changes in the criteria for selecting Google Top Story news snippets. It was big news. They called their new measures Core Web Vitals and they caused a bit of a stir.

Everyone in the SEO community started researching these updates and making clear plans of attack. How to protect hard-earned first page rankings? How to protect sites from drops in organic traffic? Conversions? Sales? The bottom line? Such was the panic that Google delayed the rollout from May this year to August to give everyone more time to prepare.

But what if you’re not in the SEO community? What if you don’t want to get involved in the details? Fear not. In this guide, we’ll share what you need to know about Google’s Core Web Vitals, decipher some of the jargon and point you in the direction of help.

What Are The Core Web Vitals And Why Do They Matter?

Google clearly wants the internet to thrive and users to have good experiences as they browse content. With this in mind, they have always checked for security, suitability for mobile applications, lack of intrusive pop-ups and so on when ranking pages. Now, with Core Web Vitals, they are encouraging us all to develop websites that load quickly, stay stable and respond in milliseconds.

Google, of course, has adopted some slightly challenging technical terminology to explain things further. In their language, Core Web Vitals measures your website’s performance in three ways – Largest Contentful Paint loading time, First Input Delays and Cumulative Shift Layout speeds.

Don’t panic. They are actually straightforward concepts. Let’s take a look at each in turn.

Google web vitals

What does Largest Contentful Paint mean?

Here ‘Contentful Paint’ means any of your website’s onscreen text or image elements deemed to contain useful content. The time taken for the largest of these elements on any given page to appear is a good measure of a website’s performance. A low time (under 2.5 seconds) wins you plus points with Google and, thanks to Core Web Vitals, might well leapfrog your ranking above slower sites.

What does First Input Delay mean?

What is the first thing you do when you visit a website? There will always be a first link click, button tap or similar to kick start user interactions with any site. First Input Delay is the time this first input takes to process and be recognised by your browser. This is often a matter of how much code, such as Javascript, is involved in the operation. Quick out of the blocks (under 100 milliseconds) and, again, you win points from Google’s algorithm.

What does Cumulative Shift Layout mean?

Web page elements such as fonts, images, videos, contact forms and buttons can move around as pages download. This shifting can cause delays or, even worse, clicks in the wrong place and users sent off track. Core Web Vitals measures the time it takes for everything to settle and ‘visual stability’ to be reached. If it takes over a tenth of a second, your site may suffer in comparison to faster competitors.

How should you respond to Google Core Web Vitals?

It is worth noting these three new measures join hundreds of others in Google’s algorithm so their impact may be limited, at least initially. They do, however, signal a clear change in approach from everyone’s favourite search engine. Your user experience may ultimately matter as much as the quality of your ranking content. It’s definitely a shift to take seriously.

The good news is data comes live and direct from opted-in Google Chrome users. It is as good a source of quantitative feedback on your website’s performance as you’re going to get. It’s also worth remembering Core Web Vitals’ measures might prove that you don’t need to change a thing. If your user experience passes muster, congratulations. It’s a badge of honour.

If the news isn’t so good, hey, forewarned is forearmed. Your web developer or SEO agency should be able to instigate any changes before the new algorithm kicks in. Be quick though. Time is ticking.

The easiest way to check your scores is through your website’s Google Search Console. It allows you to download a report with straightforward results on each of the three new measures.

Whatever the outcome, the team at Almond Marketing would be delighted to help you respond. Just get in touch. We’ve helped many of our clients already.