In Q2 of this year Google announced that new metrics called “Core Web Vitals,” or automated sets of signals related to user experience, will soon impact your site’s SEO ranking (Source: Google Blog). These will be combined with existing user experience criteria, such as page load time and mobile-friendliness, to better measure and reward sites with higher quality user experiences through higher SEO rankings. In recognising that many businesses are preoccupied with responding to the effects of Covid-19, this update will not roll out until 2021 and Google will provide a 6 month notice before their algorithm is updated.
We believe user engagement will improve as experiences on the web get better, and that by incorporating these new signals into Search, we'll help make the web better for everyone.
Sowmya Subramanian, Senior Director Of Engineering Google Search
The Web Vitals cover the following areas:
- Site Load Time, measured by what they call “Largest Contentful Paint,” or how quickly the site’s main content has been loaded.
- Interactivity, measured by what they call “First Input Delay,” or site responsiveness of a user first interacting with the page (their first “Session” you could say).
- Visual Stability, measured by what they call “Cumulative Layout Shift,” or the amount of what they deem to be unexpected layout shifts or visible page content
Now UX not only impacts a user once on your site, but whether or not they’re likely to get there in the first place.
Michael Reiss, Senior Strategist Catch
Google clarified that while promoting a best in class user experiences is important, this should be coupled with high quality and relevant content. Both of these factors will be considered when calculating a site’s SEO ranking. Companies need to be confident that their SEO Strategy, such as meta-data tagging and keywords included in copy, is up to date.
While these metrics provide great starting points for considering your site’s user experience, there are many other quantitative and qualitative measures you should adopt as well. This includes activities such as running site surveys, creating a heuristic evaluation, and conducting usability tests and user interviews. It’s great to improve your site’s search rankings, but if you don’t deliver a good experience once a user lands on your site, what’s the benefit of ranking higher? This is particularly important as we know 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience (Source: SWEOR).
Google’s announcement is a great way to spark a larger conversation about the importance of user experience and an up to date SEO Strategy among your team, department, or broader company. If you need help starting these conversations, or are ready to get to work, get in touch.