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September 29, 2020   |   3 min read

In Conversation: Google’s Core Web Vitals

Bart Skinner   |   Senior Director, Technology Services

Every year, Google makes unannounced changes to its search algorithm which affect a site’s ability to rank in the search results. Google is protective of its algorithm, which makes the upcoming Core Web Vitals announcement unique. The update is slated for a 2021 arrival, which means you have time to prepare and keep your search rankings intact.

“What is this algorithm change all about?”

The biggest thing you need to know is that Google is signaling an algorithm update next year that will factor Core Web Vital metrics, which are site speed metrics that measure the time it takes your site to load, how quickly the elements on the page are interactive, and how quickly your site is stable for the users. This algorithm change boils down to site speed and user experience.

What’s challenging is Google provides data in Google Search Console that details which pages need to be addressed, but GSC does not provide the “How”. Clients will need to partner with a Web Development partner who can evaluate the code on their site for opportunities to improve the efficiency and loading of the page.

Graphic Showing Need for Page Improvements

“How can I prepare for it ahead of time?”

There’re two main reasons for these performance issues - content and site architecture. This is where a web development audit would come in handy. At Mindstream, we’ve developed a checklist that we use to evaluate the code efficiency and render speed of a website.

If you’re not using a CMS currently, you may have the flexibility to make architecture changes to your site to improve these metrics. If you are using a CMS or other CMS type platform, you should either work with your platform development partner or another vendor directly to determine if there are changes that can improve performance.

“When should I start making real headway?”

[Google] is saying that the algorithms will be published sometime in 2021, but they will give websites a six-month warning beforehand. Depending on the complexity of your CMS platform, the sooner you get ahead of these changes the better—but definitely in the coming year.

At the very least, begin work now on auditing your site's weaknesses. With that in place, you can begin to prioritize and build out a roadmap to fix the problem areas.

I would say it’s a must in the next six months. At the very least, begin work on an audit to identify where your site's weaknesses lie. With that in place, you can begin to prioritize and build out a roadmap to fix the problem areas.

“Why does this change matter so much?”

If you have a site that’s slow and takes too long to load, at the end of the day, that affects user experience. And that's what [Google] is really targeting. Really, that’s what the other algorithm updates in the past have been about having good content, fresh content, unique content—that’s critical. This update focuses on websites improving the mobile and desktop experience for users.

You’re not trying to beat a game here. It’s all about design and user experience. And this is one of the first times [Google] has really focused on UX in this manner.

Contact us to learn more about Google’s announced algorithm change. Our award-winning development team is happy to assist with audits, implementations and more.

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