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How Google ranks your website pages in 2021

Want to know how you can influence your Google Search ranking after Google’s latest update in May 2021? If you’re a marketer or developer responsible for your company’s website and traffic, or you want to know more about Core Web Vitals and how they can affect your website, then this blog is for you. 

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What's happening and why is it important?

Google is constantly being updated many times a day, and there’s not a lot you can do about it. These updates are usually minor and don’t directly affect anyone in a significant way. 

However, the latest update in May is different and quite important. It’s all to do with something called ‘Core Web Vitals’ which we will explain shortly. With this update, there are actionable things you can now do to influence your site performance and it’s ranking on the search engine. 

Why is this important?

Because a positive improvement on search rankings will result in an increase in website visitors, resulting in an increase in leads, and therefore a higher chance of those extra leads turning into customers.

Core Web Vitals - Explained

Core Web Vitals are a set of specific technical factors that Google considers important in a website pages overall user experience. The vitals are made up of three specific measurements regarding page speed and user interaction:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (loading)

  • First Input Display (interactivity)

  • Cumulative Layout Shift (visual stability)

A website's page experience has previously been determined by whether it is mobile friendly, safe to browse, has HTTPS secure protocol, and has no aggressive pop-up ads. 

Now, Core Web Vitals are adding these other measurements. Keep reading to learn about these in more detail...

Largest Contentful Paint - (Loading)

This measurement determines how long it takes for the biggest piece of content on the page to load. To provide a good user experience, sites should strive to have Largest Contentful Paint of 2.5 seconds or less.
Common Issues with LCP include:

  • Slow server response times 

  • Render-blocking JavaScript and CSS

  • Slow resource load times - are your images the right size? Make sure they are compressed to avoid speed issues

These issues can be fixed, but you may need to work with your web developer to get around them.

First Input Display - (Interactivity)

This measures the milliseconds between when something is done on a page (click a link or tap a button) and when the page responds. This is usually called load responsiveness.

Aim for below 100ms FID for a good user experience. 

Here are some ways you can try to improve your FID:

  • Reduce the impact of third party code - how many pixels/apps does your website really need?

  • Break up big JavaScript tasks into several smaller tasks

  • Keep request counts low and transfer sizes small - similar to site speed

Cumulative Layout Shift - (Visual Stability)

CLS is a score that measures how much the layout moves around - particularly when loading. For example, have you ever experienced being on a page and going to click a button but then the whole page shifts up a fraction due to an image or video finally loading? That’s CLS.

You should be aiming for below 0.1 CLS score for an ideal user experience on your webpages. 

Common issues that affect CLS include:

  • Images without dimensions

  • Ads without dimensions

  • Dynamically injected content (new content injected above loaded content e.g. GDPR notices)

  • Web fonts (because they need to be downloaded to overtake the fallback font)

Make sure to talk to your developer to make sure you aren’t falling victim to these issues.

Free tools to measure your Core Web Vitals

And there you have it, those are the Core Web Vitals that affect a website pages overall user experience, and in turn affect how high up your website ranks on Google Search (making it easier for your ideal customers to find you). 

Here are some tools that you can use to measure your Core Web Vitals: 

If you need some further help understanding how to improve your website performance, we’d love help out. Get in touch with us today.

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