On 28 May 2020 Google pre-announced a new set of ranking factors based upon User Experience that will come into effect in 2021. Google giving this much notice before a major update is unprecedented. They are so committed to this direction that they have already incorporated the relevant diagnostics into the Search Console platform, replacing the former “Speed Report” with the new “Core Web Vitals” report.
Page Experience Core Fundamentals
The principles of current Page Experience ranking factors include a user’s experience of page load speed, mobile friendliness, invasive popups, lack of malware and a secure HTTPS served page. The changes to come will incorporate “Core web Vitals” that measure how a web page loads and whether that affects a user’s experience of the page. This includes page load time (Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)), interactivity (First Input Delay (FID)) and whether or not page content remains stable as it loads (Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)).
- LCP – the amount of time required to render the main visible page content.
- FID – the amount of time between a user interacting with a page element and the browser responding to that action.
- CLS – the visual stability of page elements; does a button move slightly in the rendering process? If so, users might become frustrated by clicking somewhere they did not intend. The GIFF below provided by Google demonstrates negative CLS. Most of us have experienced this particular problem at one time or another and it can indeed be frustrating from the user’s perspective
So How Will it all Work Together?
The below image provided by Google incorporates the existing ranking factors with the new Core Web Vitals factors and shows how they all combine to give a clearer picture of a user’s experience on your web page. Google has provided webmasters with the tools necessary to measure core elements of LCP, FID and CLS in order to give them time to respond to any deficiencies well before the update goes live.
Google will be placing even greater emphasis on User Experience going forwards. Most webmasters have long been aware of Google’s preference for fast loading pages and providing Users with a pleasant experience whilst on their pages. The new diagnostic tool set will give developers the data they require to optimise their projects for speed and stability in line with Google’s specific requirements. We will, of course, incorporate the new Core Vitals Report into our own diagnostic health checks for our SEO clients and alert any clients whose website fails to pass muster in time to take action.