Changes in SEO - Core Web Vitals
As our ability to interact and search evolves, so does SEO. Gone are the days of exact domain matches and keyword stuffing, instead we are now looking at the future of search which uses AI. Artificial learning to understand how a user interacts with a website and what metrics make for a good or bad user experience.
Over the past few years we have seen SEO change from a vanity project to something with a lot more substance and trying to game the system for better results and been reduced which has some experts claiming “SEO is dead!” SEO is not dead, your mindset is outdated.
With SEO now we need to put more effort in to understanding the user and improving their experience. Yes, it is more work but much more rewarding with better long term pay offs for those willing to put the effort in.
In Googles recent update we are now looking at Core Web Vitals, but what are they?
As said earlier, the way we search is ever evolving and as we, the user, changes from screen to screen we want the same user experience. A responsive experience. Core Web Vitals focus around how your website interacts with the screen and how much time it takes a way from the users experience.
First Contentful Paint (FCP) and Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) describe when you access a website. When you return the address how long does it take for the first object to appear on the screen (FCP) and how long does it take for the largest object to appear (LCP). The longer the user has to wait for FCP the more chance you have of losing them as the thought process that “this website is down” comes in to play. Every second you lose half your users. Waiting longer than 4 seconds significantly reduces a chance of a sale. LCP has another effect, layout shift. Something we will cover later.
To combat this we need to look at the size of the page. Have we properly optimised the images? Do we have unnecessary plugins? Do my pop-ups happen before the page has loaded? Reducing and improving this significantly helps.
By reducing the weight of 25 pages out of 330 we have seen a significant growth in keyword visibility jumping from 14% to 17% in 2 weeks and an increase of keyword options and on page time.
Total Blocking Time
Imagine being on a website that you know well. You go to click on link and nothing happens. So you press it a few more times then after a second everything jumps around. Since you have hit the link so many times you are being sent around the site randomly as you’ve accidentally hit more links than expected. This is the total blocking time. TBT is how long it takes for the code to catch up and lets you interact otherwise known as your time to interactive.
This issue is generally caused by third party code which loads above all else. We would suggest getting rid of anything you don’t need and using a CDN for the rest.
Cumulative Layout Shift
With so many websites now having pay features at just a tap and thanks to android and apple payments being accessible at just a touch. Accidentally hitting the wrong button can be dangerous. This is where Cumulative Layout Shift plays a key part. CLS is the experience of being halfway down a page and then larger item loads higher up (LCP), causing the website to shift. The article you are reading has now moved and you have lost your place, or you have accidentally clicked and bought something. It creates for a poor user experience.
To address this it is important to strip back the pages weight. The faster it loads, the less of a delayed shift you will have. A better and more costly approach is to use place holders with a CDN. Place holders will be the size they need to be, so no layout shift and a CDN can load the graphics in without slowing down the server.
Knowing how Google works, this information will be out of date by 3pm. Hopefully until then it has helped you understand the Core Web Vitals change and how it can affect your website.