Consumer trends on search are moving at a furious pace. Customers want to achieve their intent in a flash and business websites that don’t meet their expectation are left to lose a chunk of their revenue. As an answer, Google announced their next big ranking factor and have labelled it the Core Web Vitals Update or the page experience signal. Page speed is already a ranking factor but bringing in the user experience angle has pushed every website on the internet into unchartered territory. It’s no small task, neither is it a do-it-yourself process and that’s exactly why Google has given everyone 6 months’ notice before this crucial ranking factor kicks in.
Before we get into what exactly is the Core Web Vitals Update, consider these stats as proof that offering website visitors a stellar user experience plays a vital role in the customer buying journey. Offering a positive user experience is key to winning over online consumers, as:
- 67% are more likely to buy – ThinkwithGoogle
- 74% are more likely to return to make a purchase – ThinkwithGoogle
- 16.6% of customers that had a great experience on your website are likely to recommend – Forrester Research
Based on the Google Chromium team’s research on the benefits of Core Web Vitals, 24% are less likely to abandon pages and shopping sites when the experience is good or better. That’s almost a quarter of potential sales saved right there.
What is Google’s Core Web Vitals Update?
Google have announced that in 2021, the Core Web Vitals will be an official ranking factor, which means that the user experience of a website is now a ranking factor to meet the expectations that customers have on user experience when visiting a page. Like it or not, it will decide a website’s position on search. Adding to the other website ranking factors such as mobile friendliness, safe browsing, HTTPS, and having no intrusive interstitials, the Core Web Vitals or page experience signal brings in 3 more factors – loading of the page, speed of interactivity and visual stability of the web page when loading. The update is benchmarked by 3 main elements which collectively measures real-world user experience.
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
This is the primary element of the update and is the time taken for the largest content on the page to load. The largest content has to load within 2.5 seconds for it to score well.
- First Input Delay (FID)
FID is measured as the time taken till the user can make an interaction with the page. 0.1 seconds is the benchmark for it to be deemed good.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
This indicates the amount and time of layout shifts of the visual page content and pages should maintain a CLS of less than 0.1
Best practices to improve Core Web Vitals Score
For websites to meet the benchmarks, the following needs to be incorporated to improve the Core Vitals score:
- Optimize images
Website images need to be in the right image format with compression and responsive markup with its dimensions specified and hosted on CDN
- Lazy load images and video
Improves the overall page load time and allows the user to interact with the page without having to wait for the image or video to load
- Prioritize resources
Prioritizes your website resources and choose what needs to load first. This will improve the page speed and speed of future navigation
- Optimize CSS
Minify the code, load critical CSS and defer non-critical CSS, and optimize the CSS background image with media queries. This will result in faster paint operation of the page and improve interactivity
- Optimize third-party resources
If the third-party resources aren’t deployed well, it contributes significantly to slow page speed. Implement various methods to load the third-party scripts efficiently
- Optimize web fonts
This ensures that the text remains visible while loading the web font and ensures efficient loading and rendering of large fonts
- Optimize network quality
Set up your sites and host resources, such as images and videos on the CDN server to deliver high quality and optimized resources over the network. This will improve the asset delivery and loading of the page
How Google Core Web Vitals affects the customer journey
Using our customer-centric approach, we tracked how the new page experience signal will affect the customer journey and sales funnel for every business. The Core Web Vitals will have a direct impact on 3 phases of the customer journey:
- Awareness: Google has clearly stated that this update will be an official ranking factor and offering a stellar user experience that aligns to the page experience signal will influence the position of your website on search
- Consideration: It’s no secret and the stats mentioned above validate this fact, a faster responsive website with a seamless user experience will lead to better engagement
- Conversion: By improving the user experience, you’re increasing the chances of a conversion
How Milestone CMS will get your website future ready for Google’s Core Web Vitals
Milestone’s technology team worked with industry experts to define a solution, and we’re proud to say that we’re the first to roll out a comprehensive and future-proof Core Web Vitals solution. Our breakthrough solution proved to increase the Core Vitals score by 30 points and we accumulated field data (to capture real-world experiences) and lab data (debugging performance issues) to determine the best practices to improve the score.
Implementing the Core Web Vitals requirement isn’t a one team effort and our CMS plus Website Programming, Product & IT, Design, and Content collaborated to define a winning solution that answers the aforementioned best practices to improve a website’s Core Vitals score. Here’s a peek into what we did:
- Digital Asset Management (DAM)
This feature allows the CMS to store images in a centralized location and use them across all products. The images are served in next-gen formats and enhances the fluidity of the UI whether it is being viewed on a mobile phone, tablet, desktop or even a TV screen.
To meet the benchmarks of this to-be ranking factor, every piece of content is treated as a component – modular and movable. While all elements will be displayed on a single screen, the page is made up of multiple components that are arranged based on priority. The data contains meta data and is separated from the presentation for it to be edited and updated easily.
- Hybrid CMS
Milestone employed the Hybrid CMS model to decouple the front-end and back-end layers to make it easier to work on the design without affecting the actual content displayed on the screen.
To deliver a stellar user experience and improve page load speed, Milestone CMS customized the loading of JS/CSS at a template and page level
- Image lazy loading
To improve the Core Web Vitals score in terms of speed, layout shift and interactivity, our CMS configures the image loading behavior
By collaborating with the best-known names in the industry and to ensure this process is methodical and seamless, we’ve created a certification for each team to carry out specific processes and tasks to contribute in improving the Core Web Vitals score. In addition, for websites to meet this ranking factor in 2021, we offer 2 separate packages for businesses to choose from –(1) Audit and (2) Audit + Advisory. For existing Milestone customers, the rollout will be in a phased manner, while new customers will automatically benefit from their website meeting the Core Vitals requirements.
To know more, reach out to us at [email protected] or call us on +1 408 200 2211.