5 Ways to Prepare Your Small Business for Google’s Core Web Vitals Update
Changes are coming to the way Google’s algorithm ranks web pages. The page experience update will be rolled out mid-June 2021 with the goal of rewarding pages that provide a great user experience.
Not sure what these changes mean for your small business’ website? Let us help you prepare for what’s on the horizon…
What’s changing with Google’s page experience update?
Google Search prioritizes web pages that: a) provide the information that users are looking for, and b) are user-friendly. That means even if your web content is authoritative and relevant, technical issues with your website can torpedo your page ranking.
Google announced the rollout of Core Web Vitals in 2020. These vitals measured three things:
- Loading experience: Google measures Largest Contentful Paint (LCP). This tracks how long it takes your main content to load. An LCP time of 2.5 seconds or better is ideal; 4.0 seconds or longer will be ranked as poor.
- Interactivity: Google determines how interactive your site is by measuring First Input Delay (FID). This tracks how long it takes for your site to become interactive. An ideal measurement is less than 100ms, 300ms or more will result in a poor ranking.
- Visual Stability: Google tracks the visual stability of your website by measuring Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). CLS identifies unintended shift of visual content on your website’s layout. This measurement should ideally be less than 0.1, 0.25 or higher will be ranked as poor.
Now, Google will be adding these three measures to their search signals for page experience, alongside existing metrics. These prioritize websites that are:
- Mobile friendly
- Safe to browse (e.g. don’t contain malware)
- Delivered over HTTPS
- Free from intrusive interstitials (such as hard to dismiss pop-ups)
How to prepare for Google’s core web vitals changes
When you’re running a small business these kinds of technical changes can be hard to keep track of. But understanding how Google ranks your page is vital for your business: you want leads to find you. Google has also announced that they will add labels to search engine results in the future to show users which websites meet their page experience criteria—and which don’t.
Beyond SEO, improving your site’s performance is good practice regardless. Google’s own research has shown that high page loading times, for example, increase your bounce rate. A well-performing and well-designed website is how you convert leads to customers.
1. Build your plan
If you haven’t made a plan for the upcoming changes yet, now’s the time. Gather your key resources (your web developer, marketing team, etc) to establish what you need to tackle and to assign responsibilities.
2. Identify & address current weak spots
Before you start worrying about core web vitals, review how well you are performing on existing metrics. If your website isn’t mobile friendly, or if you have a bunch of pop ups distracting your visitors, now is the time to fix those issues.
3. Audit your core web vitals
There are lots of tools out there to help you understand your core web vitals.
- Page Speed Insights
Page Speed Insights both measures your page speed and provides recommendations on how to improve it. This includes tracking the new core web vitals.
Lighthouse is another tool that you can use to audit your website. Lighthouse allows you to generate reports on performance, accessibility, SEO and more. Where there are issues, Lighthouse reports identify them, explain why the issue is important, and offer suggestions on how to resolve the issue.
- Web Vitals Chrome Extension
The Web Vitals Chrome Extension lets you quickly identify whether your website is passing the web vitals metrics. It also provides a HUD overlay option which may allow you to see how the changes your developers make impact the performance of your website.
Other ways of auditing your website’s performance include running a Google Search Console Report, a Chrome UX report and using Chrome DevTools to identify issues. Let your web developer know that identifying and resolving issues based on the new metrics is a high priority so they can use the right tools to improve your site.
4. Implement key fixes
Once you know where your issues are, it’s time to start fixing them. The audit process is intended to help you identify site specific fixes you need to make, but Search Engine Journal also has a great list of tips to improve your website ahead of the updates.
Remember, the current metrics are already impacting your search engine ranking (and will continue to do so after the update). If you identify issues in how mobile-friendly your website is, for example, treat this as a high priority.
5. Continue to monitor for changes
A trusted partner
When you’re running a small business, every resource is at a premium. Finding time to address critical changes in the web environment can be a challenge, even if you have a dedicated web team.
At Sparked, we provide the extra support you need. We stay on top of emerging changes in the system so you don’t have to, and we provide timely expertise so that your team can focus on their core roles.
Want to chat to our team about how we can help you boost your search engine ranking? Contact us and a friendly member of our team will be in touch.