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2021 Google Ranking Factors: Core Web Vitals

Core Web Vitals
On November 11, 2020, Google announced that the Page Experience ranking factor will roll out in May 2021.


Ranking Factor Background

Some time ago, Google caused quite a stir by announcing a new ranking factor for 2021: page experience. User experience has always been an essential part of building the best site out there, but now, it will play an even bigger role in helping you build awesome sites for your customers. All this is powered by new metrics, with at the center: the Core Web Vitals. Time to meet LCP, FID, and CLS!

The Google page experience update powered by Web Vitals

Core Web Vitals are a set of specific factors that Google considers important in a webpage’s overall user experience. Core Web Vitals are made up of three specific page speed and user interaction measurements: largest contentful paint (LCP), first input delay (FID), and cumulative layout shift (CLS).

In short, Core Web Vitals are a subset of factors that will be part of Google’s “page experience” score (basically, Google’s way of sizing up your page’s overall UX).

Core Web Vitals: What You Need to Know

Core web vitals are a set of three specific web page experience metrics that Google considers super important:

  • Largest contentful paint – Loading performance (how fast does stuff appear on the screen?)
  • First input delay – Responsiveness (how fast does the page react to user input?)
  • Cumulative layout shift – Visual stability (does stuff move around on the screen while loading?)

Core Web Vitals

How To Improve Your Core Web Vital Scores

The exact steps you take to improve your core web vitals depends on your site. For example, a site that runs on Shopify will be different compared to one that runs on WordPress.

That said, here’s the process you can use to figure out what you need to fix.

  1. First, pop open the Google Search Console and click on “Core Web Vitals”.
  2. Then, take a look at how the pages on your site stack up.

We basically ignore the desktop scores. Google’s mobile-first index means that mobile scores are what really matter. You want to really zero-in on “poor URLs”.

In our opinion, Google is going to punish poor URLs more than boost up good URLs. So you want to prioritize getting your URLs out of the red. Again, how you tackle this depends a lot on the core web vital that you’re struggling with.

For example, we look at one of our clients and a bunch of their pages had a poor LCP score.

So we worked on improving the visual stability of each page by reducing the number of objects that move while the page is loading. In this client’s case, they had a preload image as well as multiple products. We were able to install a “lazy-load” plugin and remove the preload image. Along with that, the slider located at the top of the page fit within certain dimensions, however, the images used weren’t specified width and height in the code. Therefore during page load, the browser has to figure out how the image should appear on the screen. By specifying specific sizes, this dramatically reduced LCP as well.

These are the Core Web Vitals

In May 2021, Google will update their algorithms to incorporate a new ranking factor: page experience. To measure page experience, Google developed a new set of metrics called the Web Vitals. Within these Web Vitals, you can find three core metrics: Largest Contentful Paint, First Input Delay, and Cumulative Layout Shift. These stand for performance, responsiveness, and visual stability — the three pillars of Google’s page experience update.

Keep focusing on your users and build an awesome site!



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