A year ago, Google announced that Core Web Vitals will form part of the search algorithm beginning in what will now be June 2021, along with other known page experience signals. In addition to this announcement, Google stated that they would be rolling out a test to provide a visual indicator in search engine results pages to highlight pages that provide a great experience.

Because of this announcement, it’s clear that marketing companies, marketing managers, web developers, and business owners have become more concerned that their websites aren’t up to par. It’s infrequent for Google to announce algorithm updates so far in advance, so industry experts have predicted that this could be a significant ranking update.

CORE WEB VITALS

Core Web Vitals are a set of metrics related to speed, responsiveness, and visual stability, and they help website owners measure user experience on the web.

These metrics are based on things like:

  • Loading performance (How fast do content, graphics, etc. appear on the web page?)
  • Visual stability (How fast does it take for the web page to be interactive?)
  • Responsiveness (How fast does it take for the web page to be stable?)

To measure these aspects of the user experience, Google chose three corresponding metrics known as Core Web Vitals:

LARGEST CONTENTFUL PAINT

This metric measures how long it takes for the largest image or text block to appear on the screen. This is different from the First Contentful Paint, a metric that concentrates on the first element that’s loaded rather than the biggest one. A high score gives users the feeling that the website loads fast

FIRST INPUT DELAY

The First Input Delay calculates how long it takes for the website to be ready for the first interaction. The First Input Delay focuses on the time between clicks, scrolls, or keyboard input and the processing of those interactions. A high score here gives the user a sense that a website is fast to react to input and is responsive.

CUMULATIVE LAYOUT SHIFT

This final metric measures the visual stability of your website. Cumulative Layout Shift is an algorithm that looks at unexpected layout shifts as a web page loads. When the dimensions of a hero image are not defined, text on the web page first appears and is then displaced, causing a disruptive content layout “shift” for the user.

Given the buzz around the Core Web Vitals update, we thought it best to dispel some myths.

MYTH #1: THERE IS ONLY ONE WAY TO MEASURE CORE WEB VITALS SCORES.

Analyzing a broad variety of data sources to measure Core Web Vitals is essential. A combination of lab data (using website crawlers like DeepCrawl or/and Google Page Speed Insights tool) and Chrome User Experience Report data is the best bet.

MYTH #2: IF GOOGLE DEEMS A SITE AS MOBILE-FRIENDLY IT WILL BE ACCEPTABLE FOR THE CORE WEB VITALS UPDATE.

Google sees mobile-friendliness and Core Web Vitals as two individual search signals. Although there is some crossing over, they remain two very different things in the eyes of Google.

When a web page is mobile-friendly it has been optimized for mobile browsing, but Core Web Vitals goes further than that, looking at whether a web page loads fast and focusing on elements of interactivity and visual stability.

MYTH #3: CORE WEB VITALS WILL BE THE MOST IMPORTANT RANKING FACTOR.

Google never has and most likely never will reveal the most important ranking factor. Page experience is one of the many signals Google uses to rank web pages. Matching the user intent is still a very strong signal; the quality and relevancy of content will help rank well in organic search.

MYTH #4: IF A WEB PAGE LOADS QUICKLY ON ONE DEVICE, IT WILL BE FINE ON ALL DEVICES.

Many factors impact how a web page will load on different users’ devices. Network connections, geography, and device type may contribute to how fast a web page loads for a particular user.

When one user has a great experience on your website, this might not be indicative of another user’s experience. Google’s Core Web Vitals look at the whole body of user vitals, and its thresholds are estimated at the 75th percentile over the body of users.

Google states:

“Depending on how you’re evaluating ‘Fast,’ remember that Core Web Vitals is looking at more than speed. For instance, Cumulative Layout Shift describes users’ annoyances like content moving around. Additionally, you may also use synthetic-based testing tools that try to emulate a user, but that representation may differ from your real users.”

MYTH #5: IF MY WEBSITE IS SCORING WELL FOR ⅔ OF THE METRICS, THERE’S NO NEED TO WORRY.

It came out last month that a website must meet all Core Web Vitals to receive a ranking boost. Although this hasn’t been 100% confirmed, it seems that the consensus is that a website should be scoring fairly well in all three areas to be “off the hook” in June.

John Mueller, a leading Search Advocate at Google has said that, “There are a number of factors that come together, and I think the general idea is if we can recognize that a page matches all of these criteria then we would like to use that appropriately in search ranking.”

Now that you know truth from fiction, hopefully you can avoid all of the noise surrounding the update. Still a bit unsure about all of this? Contact New Target’s digital marketing team, and we can ease your fears and empower you to prepare properly your website for Core Web Vitals in June.

With offices in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, Ca., New Target provides digital strategy, digital marketing, web design, web development, branding, website hosting, and creative services for prominent nonprofits, companies, and government.