Core Web Vitals Update – Ranking Algorithm Delayed Until Mid-June

Delay in CWV Rollout Provides More Time for Planning and Testing

Is it time for your website to get a complete checkup? Just like your heart rate and blood pressure are important to your health and an active lifestyle, websites also send signals to search engines that help to determine if a site is healthy or unhealthy. For companies and organizations deeply concerned about web traffic and organic search visits, Google’s next big algorithm update is going to do a thorough workup of your web vitals. More than a year ago, Google announced that the user experience, such as page load time, will have a much larger effect in its future keyword rankings:

“Through both internal studies and industry research, users show they prefer sites with a great page experience. In recent years, Search has added a variety of user experience criteria, such as how quickly pages load and mobile-friendliness, as factors for ranking results. Earlier this month, the Chrome team announced Core Web Vitals, a set of metrics related to speed, responsiveness and visual stability, to help site owners measure user experience on the web. Today, we’re building on this work and providing an early look at an upcoming Search ranking change that incorporates these page experience metrics.” — Google Search Central Blog, Thursday, May 28, 2020

Originally scheduled for a May, 2021, the Core Web Vitals rollout has now been delayed until mid-June. Additionally, Google confirmed that the update will be gradual and won’t be fully incorporated into ranking algorithms until the end of August 2021. That’s a welcome relief for many webmasters and SEO agencies struggling to find the time to address the work needed to be done. Whenever this update goes into full effect, know that this initiative will likely impact your search engine results page (SERP) performance, so it’s best to be prepared. Get more details on the CWV gradual rollout here.

Core Web Vitals measures these three key performance metrics that may affect your keyword rankings:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): This measures loading performance based on the load time of the largest element on the page. To provide a good user experience, LCP should occur within 2.5 seconds of when the page first starts loading.
  • First Input Delay (FID): This measures interactivity based on the time it takes for a page to react to a user’s first interaction (e.g., a button click). To provide a good user experience, pages should have an FID of less than 100 milliseconds.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): This measures visual stability based on the movement of elements on a page during page load. To provide a good user experience, pages should maintain a CLS of less than 0.1.

 Core Web Vitals Just the Beginning of More Algorithm Updates

Unfortunately, more changes will be coming as part of Google’s more-encompassing Web Vitals Initiative (WVI). In Google’s own words, “The metrics that make up CWVs will evolve over time.” It’s clear Google will be looking at other aspects of the user experience and creating sets of metrics to better measure and quantify the user experience (UX). Staying ahead of the curve and working with the right SEO partner to keep you on the right path can make or break future keyword rankings and organic visits.

To test your current website’s core web vitals, Google has a free online tool that will provide a quick (and insightful) report. Check out Google’s Page Speed Insights here.

Guy Hanford
Vesteras LLC

Image by Chris Liverani at Unsplash