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Do Core Web Vitals Matter for Search Ranking?

People think two different things when they hear "search engine optimization": Content and keywords. While those are important factors, there is another equally important factor: the core web vitals of your site.

When optimizing your website for search engines, you need to pay attention to the content and keywords of your pages and the overall health of your site.

While some of the basic principles of SEO may seem obvious, understanding them is essential to a successful campaign. This post will discuss what makes up a healthy website and why these elements matter for SEO.

Core Web Vitals mockup image

What are Google's Core Web Vitals?

While many people believe that all Google wants to see is relevant content, that isn't entirely true. Google needs to know that your site is well-maintained and worth visiting.

Google sees your site as a whole, so if any part of it is broken or missing, then it won't rank as highly as it should. As of this writing, somewhere near 85% of websites don't pass Google Core Web Vitals.

Here are four key areas that Google looks at when determining how performative your site is:

  • First Contentful Paint - A First Contentful Paint of 1.8 seconds or less is considered good
  • Largest Content Paint - The most likely cause of a low mobile score. A Largest Content Paint score of 2.5 or less is good.
  • Total Blocking Time - Anything less than 300 ms is good
  • Cumulative Layout Shift - A CLS score of 0.1 or less is good. Cumulative Layout Shift is that oddness that happens on some pages where the page jumps because of a scrolling element, animation, or sudden font change. Think of it as the visual stability of your site.

According to Moz, Google's studies show that for pages that meet these thresholds of Core Web Vitals, visitors are 24% less likely to abandon the site.

Each of these on their own doesn't matter too much on their own, but in combination with one another, they indicate whether best practices have been followed in the creation of your site content and overall site quality.

Why Does Google Care About Your Website's Performance?

Google wants to show users the best possible experience. If your site isn't performing well, then Google will likely decide that you don't care too much about your site. And that means its search algorithm won't reward you with high rankings.

Remember that Google is constantly improving its algorithms. So if your site is slow or unreliable, it could hurt your rankings.

A site that performs poorly on mobile phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, and smart TVs will frustrate visitors and, in turn, affect Google's ranking factors for your site.

That's why Google invests heavily in ensuring that every site is optimized for mobile and desktop devices. If a site doesn't perform well on any device, it will receive demotions in search results, which will cause a loss of traffic.

Here are some examples of how a poor performing site can affect rankings:

  • Low (organic) traffic
  • Low SERP ranking
  • Lack of engagement from visitors can lead to poor marketing decision-making.
Woman using tablet overlayed by coding vignette

Which one should I focus on first?

Search engines typically penalize a slow-loading website because it means visitors won't stay long enough to find what they came for.

It is, therefore, crucial to optimize your site for load speed so that users can quickly access the information they seek.

You can do this by following the advice below.

  • Reduce the size of images and videos. Preferably done long before seeing use on your website. Using a large GIF or image can cause a drastic reduction in overall performance for your website. When's the last time you spent 10 minutes waiting for a website to load?
  • Remove unnecessary Javascript and CSS. Several plug-ins and tutorials across the net will aid in reducing the amount of Javascript calls a website will make. Cloudflare, for instance, does its best to cache and ensure there are no long chains of Javascript being loaded.
  • Utilize a CDN wherever possible. Off-loaded content becomes more critical as your site grows in traffic and size. A CDN will help reduce the hops to your website content based on where your user is making their entrance—deciding to make a video marketing toward a Spanish-speaking country?

Google Search Console can be one of your best tools in optimizing for speed because it's the most accessible place to see page speed without visiting Page Speed Insights or using Lighthouse in your browser tools.

The Importance Of Google's PageRank Algorithm

Google's PageRank algorithm determines how popular a given webpage is. As a result, it is vital to understand how the algorithm works to optimize your website for search engines.

PageRank is calculated by looking at the number of incoming links to a particular page and assigning each link a numerical score from 0 to 10. The higher the number, the more authority the page receives.

As a general rule, the higher the PageRank, the more popular the website.

However, PageRank isn't always accurate. Some websites receive a low PageRank because they have a poor design or lack quality content. To combat this, Google uses various signals to determine whether a website is worth visiting or not.

These include the age of the domain, the number of external linking domains, the popularity of the referring domains, and the number of times a page is viewed.

All of these factors contribute to the final PageRank score.

A website with a good design and relevant content should receive a high PageRank. However, a website with a bad design or irrelevant content could still receive a high PageRank if it has many incoming links.

The key takeaway is that PageRank alone is not enough to tell you whether a website is optimized for search engines. If you want to know for sure, check out our free SEO report tool.

Other UX issues include broken images, missing alt tags, and incorrect meta descriptions. These issues can cause your website to appear less professional than it really is, and they can negatively affect your SEO.

How can I make sure my site has good core web vitals?

It's no secret that having a well-optimized website is critical for driving organic traffic. These days, many websites struggle to rank because they lack any optimization whatsoever. Even if you've got a beautiful design and engaging content, you won't see much success unless you do a little work to improve your site's performance.

A healthy website means a website optimized for user experience (UX). This includes both usability and accessibility issues.

While most people know that a website should be mobile-friendly, many do not realize its impact on SEO. If your website does not load quickly on mobile devices, users will leave your site immediately.

Additionally, if your website lacks accessibility features, it could cause problems for certain visitors who cannot easily navigate your site.

You should optimize your site to perform well for both users and search engines. If your site doesn't perform well for either party, then you'll never see the results you hope for.

Other UX issues include broken images, missing alt tags, and incorrect meta descriptions. These issues can cause your website to appear less professional than it is, and they can negatively affect your SEO.

While most sites follow basic best practices, there are still plenty of opportunities to improve your site's performance. And luckily, you can optimize your site consistently and not just at launch.

Mainly though, you want to ensure you or your chosen web developer is using the latest technology and not overloading the site with unnecessary scripts and large images. Lean is key and loading huge Javascript libraries like jQuery aren’t usually needed anymore.

They should be familiar with the latest changes to Google's algorithms and how to avoid penalties.

Should I Use An SEO Company, Or Can I Learn SEO Myself?

While you can learn SEO techniques from books, blogs, and videos, hiring someone who knows what they are doing is much easier.

They understand how search engines work and have strategies to help you succeed. They can do much more than you could on your own.

When you're ready to hire a consultant, keep in mind that you won't find a single person who fits every mold. Every business is unique, and every client needs something slightly different.

A good SEO company should have experience in both offsite and onsite SEO methods. They should optimize your site for all major search engines, including Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Yandex. They should be familiar with the latest changes to Google's algorithms and how to avoid penalties.

They should also have a strong understanding of SEO fundamentals, including how to use keywords and meta tags correctly. Most importantly, they should know how to generate quality backlinks for your site. If they cannot explain all of this to you in detail, it might be time to look elsewhere.

Person holding up annual report with possible chart showing core web vitals

Conclusion: So Are Core Web Vitals Important Or Not?

The answer to whether paying serious attention to core web vitals depends on many factors, including what are your criteria for targeting your keywords, the competition for those keywords, and whether you are optimizing for mobile and desktop.

In general, though, having a well-optimized site is essential to ensure you rank high in search engines. But keep in mind that Google is constantly changing its algorithms and ranking signals. So, while it may seem like everything you're doing is working, it might not be.

That said, I would still strongly suggest taking the time to optimize your site. Even if you aren't sure if you need to make changes right now, it never hurts to start early.

Get our free ebook on SEO basics right now! In it, you'll discover tips to get your SEO in order as much as possible and understand standard terms that get thrown around during pitches.

Did you know TopOut Group has been selected among the Top Web Design Companies In Chicago by Designrush?

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