Core Web Vitals – the another Google’s "invention" which is a set of Google Page Experience signals. Its implementation is expected to take at least a year and it may bring many changes to the search results. How should companies prepare their websites for the new Google algorithm update and why is UX becoming more and more important for business?
Online business has many challenges ahead of it. One of them is to respect the rules imposed by Google. The company has been updating its algorithm on a regular basis since 1998, introducing further criteria for evaluating pages and their position in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Every business, in order to remain competitive, must keep up with these changes.
At the end of May 2020, the giant announced an update, which could have a serious impact on the position of many websites in the hierarchy of results. The update, referred to as the Google Page Experience Update (GPEU), will be introduced gradually and, as announced by its authors, is expected to be "finalised" in 2021. Although Google has disclosed the basic technical details of the update, the specific consequences of its implementation are difficult to predict.
The primary objective of GPEU is to improve the quality of websites. Google has been paying attention to it for a long time, thus becoming a UX "referee". The update introduces the so-called Core Web Vitals (CWV), i.e. basic Internet metrics (also referred to as signals) that measure the actual user experience related to:
This is not the first change that stimulates website administrators to take more care of their UX layer. For several years, Google has also been using other criteria (Search signals) for evaluating websites in terms of usability and security, such as:
A detailed discussion of the Google Page Experience signals, both those introduced as part of GPEU and those existing so far, can be found on Google Developer website.
Here we wanted to focus on the practical aspects of the update: what it actually means for e-business and how quickly companies should prepare their websites for the new Google evaluation criteria.
The problem is that even the authors of the algorithm update may not know it. – I suppose that even the Google engineers themselves do not know how quickly Google Page Experience Update is going to be implemented. This type of implementation requires time and tests, it is difficult to predict when it will be completed – as explained by Tomasz Kołkiewicz, SEO specialist and SEO4.net owner. – At the beginning, we will probably observe a minimal impact on the ranking positions, so that there will be no major reshuffling and panic. With time, the significance of these metrics will probably be increased at the expense of others, which are easy to manipulate, such as external links – he adds.
The process may take a few to several months. Throughout this time the algorithm will evolve, possibly with the use of artificial intelligence. For the time being, the importance of updating the algorithm at the initial stage of its introduction is difficult to predict, however, the basic consequences seem obvious.
– It is clear that the owners of user-friendly websites will benefit from the update, and those who ignore user-friendliness issues will be negatively affected. This will also have a positive impact on the whole Internet, as administrators and website developers will attach greater importance to providing a better experience of navigating the sites to Internet users. It can be expected that websites as well as services related to their design and implementation will evolve towards the improvement of user experience - Kołkiewicz says.
The role of Core Web Vitals should not be underestimated. Just like other and future Google Page Experience signals. As emphasized by Kołkiewicz, the mobile index first principle (using mainly mobile device versions in indexing) introduced revolutionary changes in the ranking: it forced website owners to adjust them to mobile devices so that they could remain high in search engine results. This is also the case with the Google's war on intrusive pop-ups and full-screen ads. The company has been imposing penalties on websites that use them since January 2017.
The giant is doing a lot to make the time spent on the sites more pleasant. This trend has been visible for several years. So you can guess that the next changes will aim to increase the value of user experience of individual websites. Pages with poorly designed UX risk falling in Google search rankings, consequently, losing customers and, in the case of e-stores, reduced turnover.
Proper hosting is also significant. In addition to fast SSDs and the appropriate amount of server power, it should offer the latest PHP and MySQL technologies: the most popular technologies for developing websites. The speed of the website itself is also important. This can be ensured by skillful use of the cache, minification of the attached JS and CSS files and optimisation of the used graphics to speed up their loading. You should also remember to set the validity time of individual files so that you can use your browser's memory. In addition, there is the visual layer, which is what the user sees – convenient navigation on all devices and readable content.