20 Experts On "How Google Core Web Vitals Impacted Their Website" And What It Mean For Your SEO In 2021?
Core Web Vitals became ranking factors for Google. It measures several aspects of web usability such as load time, interactivity, and the visual stability of content on the web pages as they load. Read what SEO experts say about core web vital update...
Our experience with the Core Web Vitals update was not really inspiring. We at SE Ranking love analytics as it helps us deliver the best possible products to our customers.
Meanwhile, it turned out that Google is not such a big fan of analytics scripts. Over the past few months, we have been fixing all the things on our site that impact the Core Web Vitals score except for analytics scripts.
Nevertheless, by the time the rollout started, we were still far from the green area. As a result, we have experienced a drastic drop in rankings and traffic.
Moreover, I can say that most websites in our niche suffered similar update consequences. The way the update impacted our site gave us a push to speed things up with analytics scripts and make it to the green area as fast as possible.
Still, I can’t but notice that our LCP result is pretty decent and all the pages are loading fast enough.
Thus, all of the additional features we had to leave out and all of the data we won’t be getting isn’t really to provide the best possible website experience to our users, but to please Google.
Any decent development team can hit the Core Web Vital requirements and tick the box. The challenge for enterprise level sites is maintaining it.
So rather than tasking your team to hit the CVW metrics, take the approach of understanding the why behind the algorithm update and change your processes.
For example, JS scripts blocking the critical rendering path is a common issue across many websites.
Regular Core Web Vitals advice will tell you to minify JS, defer any script not needed for rendering above the fold and look into code splitting. Maybe this will allow you to hit that CWV targets, but it doesn’t fix the root of the problem.
Over time, you get new developers who don’t know JS should be minified, or sales gets access to Google Tag Manager and add a whole bunch of new scripts for clients or something will happen so you no longer hit the CWV thresholds.
And there is a chance it’s not immediately noticed when the hype of the algorithm update wears off. So in the mid-term, you could be back at square one.
So rather than focussing on hitting the metrics, focus on the root cause.
In this case, the presence of JS script on the page. Some, like Google Analytics, have a clear reason to exist and should be optimised. Others, like a/b testing or survey tools, only need to be there when in active use.
Some, like ad scripts that are not a strong revenue driver, you may need to assess if the trickle of cash is worth the CWV cost. And the first time you do this activity, it’s likely many will be legacy and no one knows what it’s doing there in the first place, so can simply be removed.
Once the initial cleanup is in place, agree on processes for who can add a script and why. Add automated test so that code can not be deployed if they break from the accepted scripts or best practices, such as being minified.
Create an alert system if CWV drop below a specified threshold. Rinse and repeat a similar process analysis for all major issues. This is what will allow you to not only hit CVW targets, but more importantly, have a better website now and in the future.
There’s been a real mixture of responses in all honesty – and after all the hype, I was expecting more obvious changes post-update.
However, for sites that have seen a slight decrease – we’re working hard to ensure that meet the guidelines provided by Google – utilising the reports in Search Console and working closely with our developers to get things implemented quickly.
Most of the issues identified appear to be around LCP; so we’re making sure that we audit large resources and images and optimising them appropriately.
For WordPress sites; I’ve been testing Nitropack.io – so far results appear to be very good so would recommend testing that on your sites.
When you’re reviewing sites that are considered publishers, the importance of Core Web Vitals is increased, because the “black box” mechanisms at play for deciding which stories and articles get displayed through Google Discover are even less obvious than traditional Google Rankings.
This is especially true given the June and July updates for Page Experience, which removed the restriction from Google for their sources to be AMP only sites. Now the flood-gates are open, so it’s worth re-evaluating your site’s commitment to AMP.
With one project, they stuck with AMP pages, but reviewed the layout and calls to action for their AMP site and increased conversion rate by 2%, which represents a gain of potentially millions of dollars of revenue.
For another international version of that publication, they stepped away from AMP altogether, and have focused on improving CLS, FID and FCP scores by using https://waterfaller.dev/ as a task list for improvement.
After optimizing our website’s core web vitals, our Page experience report in Google Search Console became green (good page experience) across the board and has 99.8% good URLs.
This led to an improvement in our site’s Average Session Duration and Pages per Session numbers.
Although the optimization for core web vitals coincided with our site migration, after the migration has settled, our rankings for high-difficulty keywords which we used to rank on the 3rd or 4th rank suddenly increased to 1st/2nd rank.
I’m positive that aside from the migration, having an almost perfect page experience score really helped boost our rankings.
Some specifics we did to improve our core web vitals score:
- Improved the page speed Applied the suggestions given by both Google Page Speed Insights and GTMetrix
- Optimized all the content – especially the images
- Optimized the codes used in the pages Lessened the
- Outside sources being loaded in our pages
To me Core Web Vitals and in particular the Cumulative Layout Shift metric which gauges the degree of stability of content by summing shift scores across layout shifts that don’t occur within 500ms of user input represents an opportunity to demonstrate technical and SEO expertise.
It prompted the development and release of the Cumulative Layout Shift Debugger (CLS) https://webvitals.dev/cls/, an expert tool available free of charge and without registration to anyone who wants their websites to succeed in Google Search.
To answer your question, from a business perspective and as an SEO expert providing technical consulting services to commercial client websites, Core Web Vitals stands for a positive development and is something that I welcome.
While I can not name specific websites or clients, due to confidentiality, I am at liberty to say that for major consumer websites operating in competitive niches CWV metrics are particularly relevant.
Currently we are well underway for many verticals to recover and regain organic search visibility after the drops experienced due to COVID-19 in previous months.
As mentioned in an article recently published on that very topic, recent past challenges represent a springboard opportunity, see: https://www.searchenginejournal.com/seo-tactics-for-market-position/398623/ .
In short, websites committed to optimize the experience for their users stand a good chance not to merely recover but to expand on their market share.
In that sense performance factors, including Core Web Vitals are a critical online business success factor.
Currently, we do not register any direct impact from CWV to our search rankings. We have many sites with different CWV scores, mostly smaller client sites.
We do recommend every customer of ours to improve the CWV scores, but especially the smaller websites in a low competitive SEO space didn’t move at all.
We have a few shops that benefits in rankings since the CWV update, but they were on an uptrend already, so we can’t nail it down to the Core Web Vitals.
The content and the clear structure of the website is much more important than CWV.
When you do your homework with content and structure, then you can care about speed and CWV. A good user experience takes care of every aspect, but in our view it’s all starts with the content.
The recent emphasis that Google has placed on core web vitals has justified the prioritization we have always placed on basic usability and user experience for the sites that we build.
It is in everyone’s best interest to provide the best experience possible for a user that lands on a page to make sure the site will load quickly, behave predictably, and respond to user input instantly.
We have not seen major issues on the latest sites we have built or manage, but we spent the past year updating sites for new clients or sites we built in the past.
The majority of the changes have been increasing pagespeed, removing or updating plugins, updating WordPress and themes, optimizing images and scripts, setting up a CDN, as well as adjusting how pages load to avoid cumulative layout shift issues.
Whilst I haven’t seen any huge, noticeable impacts on keyword rankings that I would attribute specifically to the Core Web Vitals update, I have noticed some positive impacts due to the announcement itself.
As Google announced that Core Web Vitals will become a ranking factor moving forward, not only on websites that I work across but across the industry as a whole, I have seen noticeable improvements to site speed and experience.
The number of core algorithm updates that were released between June and July was a lot higher than we would usually see, therefore making it difficult to differentiate exactly what updates may have affected rankings, positively or negatively, but the overall shift in websites improving their site speed and lowering the amount of CLS that takes place has made a great impact in my eyes.
As user experience plays a much more important role in the algorithms now than it used to, the work that websites carry out to improve their UX is having a positive impact on their organic performance by default.
Due to this, I believe that the collaboration between SEO and UX teams will strengthen moving forward and become vital in organic success.
Google blessed us with 3 other updates at the same time as Core Web Vitals was rolling out. A June Core update, July Core update, and a link spam update.
With 2 cores updates, a spam update, and page experience all rolling out around the same time, I don’t think anyone will be able to accurately predict which update impacted their website at the moment.
If site owners see significant growth during the last 3 weeks of August, I think that could be more attributable to CWV, as long as we don’t get another update – ha!
We’ve seen 3x traffic growth on our site from May to today, and it’s still continuing to grow every day, but I’d say these were more related to the other updates rolling out, and not so much to do with CWV because we’ve really been building out our content and on-page SEO efforts over the last year.