Another day, another algorithm update for us all to panic about. Yes, we feel it too.
Initially introduced May, 2020, and pushed back a few times, Google has now said their latest update in how it measures site/page user experience will officially be used to rank pages in a gradual rollout mid-June 2021.
Core Web Vitals can be broken down into these factors that are used to measure experience:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): This has to do with loading time. Specifically, how long does it take for the single largest element to become “seen” in the viewport of the user (mobile and/or desktop). Most likely this is something like a main hero image, background, or video. Anything under 2.5 sec is “good” (green), anything taking longer than 4 sec is “poor” (red).
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): The aim of this factor is to measure how much “shifting” of content is going on during loading and post loading of your pages. It’s not a great experience if a user means to click on something, only to have it suddenly shift and result in an accidental click. The scoring here is a bit more complicated, but anything under .1 is “good,” over .25 “poor.” (If you want to geek out on how that score is calculated – check out this post).
- First Input Delay (FID): Another time based measurement, this metric seeks to understand the responsiveness of things like clicks, table expansions, menu drop downs, flyouts, and other on page elements. If you click something and nothing happens, or there is a delay, it’s not fun. So, anything under 100ms is deemed “good,” anything over 300ms, “poor.”
The good news is, Google Search Console has been tracking these metrics for months now, and understanding where you stand on each of these metrics is already available in these reports. This is where you’ll be able to see which pages on your site have been flagged as “Good,” “Needs Improvement” or “Poor,” in each of these three categories.
For more info, it’s best to just get it straight from the source – check out this latest video from Google on the topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3Xyn7M1Izk
What this means for B2B SaaS and Tech Companies
First off, know that this is just clarification around some additional factors being added to a complex algorithm of over 200 ranking factors, so don’t expect to see major swings up or down. For those that are scanning this article, I’ll put it this way: this is likely to be a very minor update.
If anything, this adds clarity and measurability to what Google has always preached, which is, focus on usability and experience of the site, and you’ll be rewarded. Factors like page speed, mobile usability, security, non-malicious pop ups, hidden redirects, etc – have always been a part of what it takes to rank well and produce great pages.
In our experience, the vast majority of SaaS and tech companies are not experiencing major issues with usability and experience, and are not incentivized to try and manipulate users to click on ads or shifting button elements, like a content site or news site may try to do to improve pageviews and ad revenue. If anything, these updates could penalize those bad actors, allowing reputable companies and authoritative content producers to rise to the top.
The biggest challenge for SaaS and tech companies when it comes to gaining more organic visibility is still the lack of targeted content. Improving and understanding your Core Web Vitals will be another way to ensure that once your content is produced, you’re publishing a page that has the best chance to rank well and be understood by search engines.
What is Demandwell Doing?
We’ll continue to utilize the Google Search Console to monitor these metrics and troubleshoot the necessary steps to address anything in the yellow or red areas of your site. We’ve always included page speed and mobile usability as part of our technical audits, so now we’ll have more specific information about the metrics Google cares about, and how to address those so that all pages are “green.”
It’s worth noting that a lot of these fixes will most likely require a development resource to help implement, and we’re certainly here to help walk you through what we feel needs to be done or prioritized in conjunction with all of the other important SEO tasks.
If you’re looking to dive deeper into how to fix these, here is a great post by Ahrefs with some more tactical information on each factor: https://ahrefs.com/blog/core-web-vitals/
As always – reach out to us if you have any questions!