Update 5/25/21: Originally, we were anticipating the updates to launch in May, but Google has pushed back these updates to launch in mid-June.
Google is launching another algorithm update this May that will include Core Web Vitals as a ranking signal.
Simply put, core web vitals are the standards that determine whether your web pages offer a good user experience.
When combined with other search signals such as mobile-friendliness, safe browsing, HTTPS security, and intrusive interstitial guidelines (the ease with which users access your content on mobile devices), they create a “Page Experience” ranking signal.
To qualify for May’s ranking signal boost, your website must meet all three core web vital benchmarks:
- Largest Contentful Paint (or LCP) measures the speed at which a page’s main content is loaded – and the benchmark is 2.5 seconds within someone landing on your page.
- First Input Delay (FID) is the speed at which a user can actually interact with a page. This should be 100 milliseconds or less.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) is the frequency at which a user experiences an unexpected shift in layout. A website’s CLS should be consistently less than 0.1.
While the idea is that each benchmark must show up as green instead of yellow in your core web vitals report to earn the signal boost, Google has not shared a great deal of information to date as to how it will determine that pages match all three criteria. It has, however, suggested that a badge may be made available to demonstrate compliance in the search results.
In fact, users glancing at their core web vitals report may be seeing more green scores than they are used to – even if they’ve done nothing to earn them. That’s because Google has started rolling out small changes to their metric boundaries from “less than” (<) to “less than or equal to” (<=).
The bottom line? We all need to start working on ensuring our sites land in the green by the time May’s algorithm update takes effect. Regardless of how significant a ranking boost this turns out to be, making the proper user experience adjustments now not only makes your site easier and more enjoyable to navigate but could also increase your conversion rates in the long run.
So, start now. Conduct a site audit. You can test Core Web Vital factors using free resources such as Google’s PageSpeed Insights or GT Metrix. Review your results. Make updates where necessary. Optimize whenever possible. Test your adjustments. Retest your adjustments. Remember that quality content will continuously be a key to effective SEO. And, perhaps most importantly, don’t be afraid to seek assistance from qualified web professionals if you are uncertain what direction to take.