Here’s the news: On May 1, 2021, Google will start factoring in Core Web Vitals as part of how Google decides what pages show up where in search results.
And as my friend Stacey might say, “Those are all words and all English, but I don’t know what you are saying.”
Feeling a bit like Stacey at this moment in time? No worries! We’re going to dive in and explain what all this means.
Listen to Season 1: Episode 25
The Irony of Mayday
It might be fitting that Google typically chooses to update their algorithm on May 1. Most of the time, these changes have the search marketing community crying, “mayday,” as if we’re on a sinking ship and need a little help before the water overtakes us.
Fortunately, this update doesn’t seem to be as blown out of proportion as some previous Google updates have been.
The real conundrum is, when updates like this come along, there are usually more questions than answers in the beginning.
Some of the questions you (and others) might be asking are:
- WTF are Core Web Vitals (spoiler alert – clicking on the link gets you a technobabble answer)?
- How does this affect me?
- Do I care?
- Why does Google have to change things?
- Does this mean Instagram Reels are more or less important? (Totally kidding; Google doesn’t care about Reels.)
How and Why the Core Web Vitals Update Matters
To answer the key questions, “Do I care? And if so, what do I do about it?” we first need a bit of context and background. Really, it helps to understand everyone’s motivations.
Google’s motivation is they want to keep making “googles” of dollars through ads. To do that, they have to keep being the verb everyone uses when they talk about finding things online (just as Amazon wants to keep being the way people talk about buying online; even my dad says, “I’ll just Amazon that up.”)
To make sure Google doesn’t become the Yahoo of search (Does anyone remember using Yahoo to search, or is that just me?), Google must continue to deliver the most relevant search results. If you don’t find what you want by using Google, you will eventually use something else (we could end up Baiduing things, Baidu being the main search engine in China).
Delivering relevant search results is a moving target in uncharted territory. To lead the charge, Google needs to be anticipating their users’ needs and helping the entire web get better at providing good information that people are looking for in a way it can be easily consumed. It really is no small task.
As business owners, our motivation is to stay ahead of big potholes to our marketing, avoid making costly mistakes, and not get distracted by things that aren’t important to our goals.
What the Heck ARE Core Web Vitals?
Core Web Vitals are new measures invented by Google to help assess a quality user experience on a web page. You probably won’t be affected by the implementation this year.
These new measures are:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) measures loading performance: how long you think you have to wait
- First Input Delay (FID) measures interactivity: when you can start using the web page
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) measures visual stability: we’ve all had that experience where we go to click on something, and the page moves, and we end up clicking on something else entirely…that’s what this is
I’m not going to try to defend them; I’m just telling you what they are. We can all agree that this isn’t super intuitive. Also, it’s not high value for individual business owners to figure out.
Navigating the Update Now
Here are the 6 things you need to know right now:
- Core Web Vitals won’t improve your search placement by themselves, and they are not a requirement for better rankings.
- These are most important to those in highly competitive areas (e.g., real estate, retail, some local services). From what Google has said, if all other areas of relevancy are equal, this is a tie breaker.
- Why all the uncertainty? Google isn’t going to tell us everything, this is part of their secret sauce, (aka, algorithm).
- The update on May 1 is not expected to cause massive ranking changes.
- Core Web Vitals are expected to become more of a factor over time (just as mobile responsiveness did).
- Having this information now allows you to make the right decisions for your business.
Okay, so do you care?
You care if you are in a competitive search area and putting resources into organic search marketing.
You kind of care if you are actively doing search marketing or considering it. This is something you want to be aware of and know what it is going to take to improve your Core Web Vitals.
You do not care if search marketing isn’t a key part of your marketing and lead generation. You have other priorities; move along, nothing to see here.
Knowledge Is Power
Understanding where and how you get leads and sales for your business allows you to be strategic and effective when new market forces (like Google updates) come along.
Everything about the web and doing business on the web is going to continue to change. And 2020 taught us that everything about doing business and creating relationships in person can change too. Turns out, there’s pretty much nothing that can’t change.
When change is the only constant, having the right information easily available to you means you can make an informed decision and keep moving forward. This is the role of metrics, analytics, and reports in your business.
Need Help? We’re Here for You!
Changes like Core Web Vitals can get used as scare tactics by less-than-reputable providers. Staying in the driver’s seat for your business and marketing means having data to call on when you need a reality check. If you are looking for a trusted expert to help you navigate these changes and equip you with the right information to map your way to your goals, we can help. Learn more about our solution, Insight Pro, now.