Google's 2021 Core Web Vitals: What Tech and SaaS Brands Need to Know

Person typing on a laptop displaying data and graphs.

Earlier this year, Google announced new criteria for measuring “page experience.” A good page experience means that your given page:

  • Loads quickly

  • Looks clean

  • Is easy for users to navigate

  • Is safe/secure

The better the page experience, the better the result for both you and your site visitors.

On Tuesday, November 10, Google announced an update on the changes coming to page experience rankings and the Top Stories feature. Let’s go through why Core Web Vitals matter for your brand, what this upcoming 2021 update means, and how you can prepare.

What Are Core Web Vitals?

Core Web Vitals are one of the metrics used to determine the page experience for the user, and they’re an important part of any SEO marketing strategy.

Under the umbrella of Core Web Vitals, there are three metrics that measure how responsive the page is, how quickly it loads, and how much the page shifts around as it loads.

Here’s a brief review of each of those individual metrics:

  • Largest Contentful Paint. Largest Contentful Paint, or LCP, measures how quickly the largest image or text block loads. Ideally, it should take 2.5 seconds or less.

  • First Input Delay. First Input Delay, or FID, measures how quickly the page reacts after the user first interacts with it. This could be clicking a button, a link, etc. Response time should be 100 milliseconds or faster.

  • Cumulative Layout Shift. Cumulative Layout Shift, or CLS, refers to the surprise layout shifts that cause the content to jump further down or around the page. This can confuse the user and lead to accidental clicks. The CLS score should be 0.1 or lower.

Google core web vitals

Meeting or exceeding these standards ensures that your website provides the best possible user experience. This makes it easier for your target audience to gain value from your site, gives users an impression of professionalism and authority, and boosts the effectiveness of your SEO marketing strategy.

Meeting the suggested metrics is especially important for brands in and around the tech industry. SaaS, Fintech, and other technology companies can use the efficiency and quality of their website to show customers they’re in touch with the latest developments and practices in tech. Who wants to buy software from a tech company that can’t even master their own website?

If you don’t have the talent in-house to prepare for the 2021 update, consider hiring an SEO marketing agency. Professional SEO services are a worthwhile investment for any brand because they can help improve your visibility, extend your audience reach, and advise you on how to create industry-leading content.

 

The May 2021 Google Update Page Experience Signals and Top Stories

In May of 2021, Google is rolling out two things (that we know of at least):

  • New Page Experience Signals

  • Changes to Top Stories

These factors aren’t any different than what Google announced earlier this year — they simply confirm that Google is moving forward with their plans.

Core web vitals and Google search signals for page experience

The first change that Google mentions in this latest update announcement is the new page experience signals:

Today we’re announcing that the page experience signals in ranking will roll out in May 2021. The new page experience signals combine Core Web Vitals with our existing search signals including mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS-security, and intrusive interstitial guidelines.

In the announcement from earlier this year, Google explained what Core Web Vitals are and gave brands the heads up that these will eventually play into search engine rankings. They promised another notice before those changes went into effect, and that’s what we’re seeing now.

Hearing that Google will start using the Core Web Vitals metrics to inform page ranking shouldn’t send you into a panic, but you shouldn’t ignore this change. If you’re just learning about this now, don’t worry, you still have time to seek professional SEO services or make changes to your site yourself. This new page experience signal will not affect rankings until May of 2021.

The other change that will go into effect at that time has to do with the Top Stories feature and its eligibility requirements:

The change for non-AMP content to become eligible to appear in the mobile Top Stories feature in Search will also roll out in May 2021. Any page that meets the Google News content policies will be eligible and we will prioritize pages with great page experience, whether implemented using AMP or any other web technology, as we rank the results.

Previously, if a user were on mobile, the only Top Stories they could see had to be AMP (accelerated mobile pages) content. With this new update, both AMP and non-AMP content can be eligible to show in the Top Stories, even on mobile. The focus will shift to prioritize good content and great page experience.

How to Prepare for Google’s May 2021 Update

Since Google announced the impending changes months ago, you’ve hopefully been expecting these changes and adjusting. If not, it’s time to start.

If you don’t have the time, resources, or experience to navigate the waters of search marketing, professional SEO services may be the answer so you can remain focused on your brand. Not only will a professional have the know-how to get you up to speed on the latest requirements, but they can help with the effectiveness and efficiency of your website and digital marketing.

Don’t want to work with an SEO marketing agency? Here are some tools to measure Core Web Vitals metrics yourself:

  • Lighthouse

  • PageSpeed Insights

  • Chrome DevTools

  • Search Console

  • Web Vitals Extension

Use these tools to understand how your website stacks up against both Core Web Vitals and your competition. If you don’t meet the ideal requirements, you may fall in the SERP rankings.

Prepare Now for Core Web Vitals

Once you know what your starting point is, don’t waste any time. Begin making changes to ensure you’ll be ready when these changes hit in May 2021. These early announcements are meant to give you and your brand plenty of time to adapt.

Your analytics specialists should prepare you for the coming changes. Not sure if your website’s page experience will be optimized in time for this change? With help from First Page Strategy, you’ll be better able to keep up with SEO and development best practices, bringing new visitors to your site with a great experience. Get a free SEO/content analysis to learn more about how we can help you.

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