Core Web Vitals, The Google Update That Could Hit Your Web Traffic

core web vitals

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Last year, Google announced that something called ‘Core Web Vitals’ would have more of an influence in organic search rankings in the ranking algorithms.

What is ‘Core Web Vitals’ and why does it matter to local Kelowna business websites?

Core Web Vitals is a set of tools from Google that helps to measure the performance of a website, specifically in regards to user experience. Data collected includes such things as how fast a webpage loads on a user’s screen and how quickly that user can interact with the page.

Google says it will be using Core Web Vitals to help to rank websites in Organic Search from May 2021.

To cut to the chase – if your website loads slowly (less than 3 seconds) and keeps a user waiting, it will fail the Core Web Vitals tests for user experience. Your rankings may fall as Google will recognise that a better experience for searchers exists from your competitors.

Getting the performance of your website up will not only help with organic search rankings, it will also raise your page quality score for Google Ads.

Core Web Vitals is constantly being revised. The current measurements being used are;

  • LOADING – Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
  • INTERACTIVITY – First Input Delay (FID)
  • VISUAL STABILITY – Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

Don’t worry too much about exactly what these terms mean, as we have easy ways for you to measure them yourself!

Other Web Vitals

Other web vitals that form part of Google’s current Page Experience score include;

  • Mobile Friendliness – your website needs to perform well on mobile devices. Check yours here using the Google Mobile-Friendly Test.
  • Safe Browsing – your website needs to be free of malware which could compromise users
  • HTTPS – Your website must have an SSL Certificate (the URL should start with ‘https://’).
  • No Intrusive Interstitials – Pop-ups that prevent users from being able to view or access the site, with the exception of cookies pop-ups or legal requirements such as age-verification.

Google Ranking Factors

Google has intimated that it uses hundreds of triggers and factors to decide which websites appear where on Search results. Core Web Vitals is just one set. But, if all other factors are equal, you are going to lose out if you don’t address this before May 2021!

Some of the most important other factors are:

Relevance to the search query

Location

Expertise, Authority and Trust

We Tested Hundreds of Top Kelowna Websites For Core Web Vitals

SEO Agencies in BC

Just for fun, we scanned the websites of the Top 20 SEO Agencies around BC, sourced from Google Search. Surely, all would pass with flying colours? After all, these guys all know what they are doing, right? To our surprise, only 5 passed (plus ourselves)! But please, don’t tell the rest of them, as we would like our clients to keep consistently outperforming their clients!

Web Design Companies in BC

The same test on the Top 20 again. This time only 2 out of the 20 passed! There are some awesome web designers out there who create stunning sites that anyone would be proud of, but if they don’t perform, what’s the point? Luckily for them, we have years of experience in providing white-label SEO services to web agencies, helping them to concentrate on what they are best at – designing – whilst we sort the technical stuff.

Kelowna Wine Tours

Another hugely popular activity here in Kelowna with thousands of search queries per month. We love wine and we love wine tours!

Out of the Top 20 sites we tested this week, only 1 site passed core web vitals. This company is currently on Page 2 of the search results, but climbing very fast. They must have a very good SEO company on the case!!

Kelowna Boat Rentals

Another favourite pastime is getting out on the Lake in a boat. There are thousands of searches here on Okanagan from customers looking for boat rentals every month. So, how do the top 20 websites stack up?

We fared a little better here, but it’s not all plain sailing. 3 out of 20 passed, which means plenty of opportunity for someone to take a site and rank it high.

Pizza Companies in Kelowna

We ran the test on the Top 20 Pizza companies in Kelowna on Google using the most popular search query with over 1500 searches per month.

Not a single one passed. HINT – There’s a great opportunity here for a local pizza company, although we would have to insist on testing your menu out first!!!

How Do I Test My Website’s Core Web Vitals Metrics?

If you have access to your website’s Google Search Console (GSC), you’ll find the ‘Core Web Vitals’ report under the ‘Enhancements’ section.

If not, just go to the gtmetrix.com website or to Google’s free tool, Pagespeed Insights, and enter your website’s address. You can even punch in some competitor websites to compare your website to theirs.

GT Metrix is pretty thorough, you can even test your website from different locations around the world to better match where your clientele is based. Pagespeed Insights will give 2 scores. One is for Mobile performance, one is for Desktop performance. Both are scored out of 100. Ideally, your site should be 80+ for Mobile and 90+ for Desktop.

Use both tools and compare the results, also follow up with repeat tests at different times of day to get a good picture of your site’s performance.


lightning pagespeed
SCORE FROM GTMETRIX

pagespeed insights

SCORE FROM GOOGLE PAGESPEED INSIGHTS

What determines a Website’s speed?

There are several factors, including the following…

Hosting

The quality of hosting can have a dramatic effect on a website’s speed. Many Kelowna Local Business Websites are set up on a budget and are hosted on cheap shared hosting (where hundreds of websites live on the same server). Virtually all of the ‘build-your-own’ website services do this, including WIX, GoDaddy, Fasthosts, IONOS and others – although all do usually offer a paid upgrade to something better.

All of our client websites are on fast dedicated servers. This costs a little more but is well worth it.

Website Structure

Many websites can be over-stuffed with unnecessary code and plugins. Most WordPress websites have this issue! Whilst that shiny new theme might look pretty, it has probably not been designed with Core Web Vitals in mind!

Adding a new feature or plugin can also have an adverse effect. Beware, for example, of adding ecommerce to a website hosted on a cheap shared server as it will probably struggle with limited processing power and slow the whole site down.

Image Sizes

Many web designers (and business owners, especially) add lots of images to a website. There’s nothing wrong with this, except when thay are straight off a modern mobile phone and up to 10mb or more in size!

Huge images on a webpage take time to render and display. All images should be optimised (resized) before uploading.

How to Improve Core Web Vitals

Use the Measurement Tools

Use the Measurement Tools we recommend above and test your own website. If you pass, then no problem!

If not, each tool will suggest fixes if you feel technical enough to sort these yourself.

Obtain Professional Advice

Here at SEO Kelowna we can analyse your website’s Core Web Vitals (amongst other factors) and come up with a solution at a competitive cost. Solutions can be on a fixed monthly rate to include hosting, backups, updates and basic (or advanced) SEO.

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