This week, Google confirmed it: Core Web Vitals will become a ranking factor in May 2021.
“We’re announcing that page experience ranking signals for Google Search will launch in May 2021,” the Google Search Central account tweeted on Tuesday. “This will combine Core Web Vitals and previous UX-related signals.”
By the way “Google Search Central” is the new name for Google Webmasters.
Anyhoo, here’s what you need to know about the change.
Page Experience Signals?
The “previous UX-related signals” that Google mentioned in its statement includes a variety of page experience signals, such as:
- Safe browsing
- HTTPS security
- Guidelines regarding interstitials
Just to be clear: those signals already existed. If you ignored them, your website likely suffered in rank.
However, in the first half of next year, those signals will be combined with Core Web Vitals.
We’re announcing that page experience ranking signals for Google Search will launch in May 2021. This will combine Core Web Vitals and previous UX-related signals.
Learn more: https://t.co/OrrR8LDl1a
— Google Search Central (@googlesearchc) November 10, 2020
Core Web Vitals: 3 Stats
Okay, so what are these Core Web Vitals? They consist of three metrics:
- Largest Contentful Paint – The time it takes for your page’s main content to load. It should come in under 2.5 seconds.
- First Input Delay – The amount of time it takes for a page to allow input. That should happen in under 100 ms.
- Cumulative Layout Shift – The amount that the page “moves around” after loading. That number should be lower than 0.1.
Keep in mind: although I’ve provided guidance above, that guidance could and likely will change over time. Make sure that you keep up with best-practices as they relate to Core Web Vitals.
“These signals measure how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page and contribute to our ongoing work to ensure people get the most helpful and enjoyable experiences from the web,” Google said in a statement.
Core Web Vitals & New Labels
In its announcement, Google threw another idea out: the company might add labels to search results that indicate which links give users a pleasant experience.
That means you can get a “badge” if you update your site so that it conforms to the guidelines I described in the previous section. That’s going to help you stand out in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Google will likely test the label soon. If that test shows promise, the Big G will probably roll out the labels alongside the ranking signals in May.
According to a recent study, only about 15% of the pages on the web would pass the Core Web Vitals test. So you might want to check to ensure your web pages aren’t among them.
And if you do start optimizing your pages, you won’t be alone. Google reports a 70% increase in the number of users leaning on Page Speed Insights and Lighthouse to evaluate experience analytics.
You can also check your stats in Google Search Console.
Good News About Non-AMP Stories
Google used the announcement about Core Web Vitals to offer some good news to SEOs who never got on board with Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).
In May of next year, non-AMP Stories will become eligible to appear in Top Stories.
As long as the article meets Google News content policies, it’s qualified. Of course, it will need to pass the Core Web Vitals test.
Wrapping It Up
If you haven’t yet taken Core Web Vitals seriously, now is the time to do so. That’s because they’ll become ranking signals next year.
Schedule some time to meet with your development team and make sure your website is ready.