Core Web Vitals: The Next Google Ranking Factor

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In May 2020, Google announced that sometime in 2021 it would begin incorporating Core Web Vitals as a ranking signal in search. The decision left many brand marketers questioning what Core Web Vitals are and how they should be using this set of metrics to optimize their sites.

Core Web Vitals are a set of real world metrics. These performance metrics help to highlight aspects of webpage development that impact the user experience, such as page loading times, interactivity, responsiveness, and visual stability.

Core Web Vitals are user-centered metrics, used to quantify certain aspects of the user experience. Broadly speaking, they are used to measure the critical dimensions of web usability.

Google has defined the following as Core Web Vitals:

The time it takes for a page’s main content to load
The time it takes for a page to become interactive
The amount of unexpected layout shift of visual page content 

Each of the Core Web Vital metrics listed above is graded according to three outcomes: Good, Needs Improvement, or Fail. Google is strongly encouraging all site owners to gather their own real-user measurement analytics for each Core Web Vital.

Although Core Web Vitals are similar to the metrics in PageSpeed Insights (PSI), they are meant to be less complex.

Google has already said it will limit updates to its Web Vitals version releases to prevent benchmarks from moving too frequently. The hope here is that simplifying these metrics will be a welcome improvement, and that brand marketers and online publishers will be more apt to build webpages that are easier for people to use.

Core Web Vitals as a Ranking Factor

Google plans to use its Core Web Vitals metrics to measure the user experience a webpage is providing to visitors. Webpages that rank highly in Core Web Vitals will likely see a boost in search rankings. (Click here to learn more about how Google’s search rankings work.)

It should be noted that the launch of Core Web Vitals does not decrease the importance of content relevancy. Content relevancy will continue to play an important part in search rankings. Webpages with content that is relevant to a search query may still rank well, even with a poor page experience signal. Think of page experience signals as a tie-breaker. If all else is equal, the webpage that ranks better in Core Web Vitals will win out.

Google’s announcement that it would begin incorporating Core Web Vitals as a ranking signal in search in 2021 gives brand marketers a good head start, as they work to make the necessary updates to their websites before these new changes go into effect. To begin preparing your locator and local pages for the update, contact Brandify today.

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