What are core web vitals and do they help with your Google ranking

Do Core Web Vitals Affect Ranking?

When it comes to SEO, Core Web Vitals are a group of website performance factors that Google uses to calculate user experience and rank your pages. In particular, the performance of individual web pages. This shift to making webpage performance a higher priority in ranking has been coming for some time. So, do core web vitals affect ranking?

There is some confusion as to if Google is now using this as a ranking factor. The short of it is – yes indeed it is now a ranking factor! Optimizing your website for performance can help you rise in the SERPS and above your competition.  Don’t get me wrong, content is still king but focusing on Core Web Vitals may help your content rank above competitors. That is if you have a better performance score than they do and you have quality content.

If you have just published a blog post on the latest computer processor. It’s likely your competition is also going to publish a post with the same topic.  First, Google’s algorithms will look at the quality of the content. If it is determined that your post and your competitors are of equal value, Core Web Vitals could be the determining factor in who’s post will rank higher in Google Search. It is basically a factor that will be used as a “tiebreaker” when it comes to quality content.   

Core Web Vitals update is completely rolled out

Like many SEO’s I have been in the “know” about Core Web Vitals for a long time.  Google gave webmasters and SEO’s fair warning of this algorithm update early in 2020. Since that time, I have been following the latest news closely and started optimizing my website months ago in anticipation of this update.  The update is now completely rolled out across Google’s network as of July 21, 2021.

Furthermore, and speaking from my recent experience I can tell you that if everything aligns with some of your key web pages there is a chance you main see an increase in your Google Rankings.   After the July core update was completely rolled out some of my focused keywords jumped from ranking #40-#50 to ranking on Google’s 1st page! 

How did I do this? I redesigned my website, ditched WordPress for my main pages and it is now HTML/CSS/JavaScript code written from scratch.  No WordPress plugins that bog down webpage performance and no heavy JavaScript. The result of this was a lighthouse Core Web Vital performance score of 97 which led to the increase in ranking. 

Light house audit for mentseo.com – Core web Vitals

Some top issues and advice on core web vitals

If you do use WordPress or even straight-up html code there are some key factors you should be looking at to improve your performance score.  First of all, do run an audit using lighthouse, this will show you exactly what you need to do to improve your score.  

Issues with images affecting the page load speed. Images that are too large and also suggestions on how you might want to defer the loading of off-screen images. Images that are below the “fold” and are not seen until a  user scrolls down the page. Deferring these images that are not immediately seen anyway, will go a long way in boosting your performance. They are loaded but last, and they will be visible when the user is ready to scroll down the page. 

You can also defer JavaScript and CSS but you want to be sure anything you defer is not required when the page is immediately (first) loaded.  For example, if you have CSS or JavaScript in your primary menu, you will not want to defer the loading of the code. You want your menu to appears as quickly as possible. Another example is your header image, you want that to load quickly so your users see it right away. Now, if you have let’s say, a live chat script.  

This is typically something that does not need to be loaded immediately. The user will first want to view your website before initiating a live chat.  So, with a live chat script, there will be no issue in deferring. Deferring basically tells the browser it can first load non deferred code. After that code (the more important code) is loaded it can start to load the deferred code. 

The short and skinny

This is a small glimpse into Core Web Vitals and should be handled by a Technical SEO expert. It does get a heck of a lot more complicated with large websites that have complex code or use several plugins.  Reducing the number of plugins will go a long way on any website. If you have a WordPress website you might want to take a look at your activated plugins and shorten the list. If you find you rarely or never use a particular plugin deactivate or delete it. 

As you can see from the small examples I explain above, optimizing your website for performance is no easy task. And that is just the start of it. It’s not a task suited for the average blogger, small business owner and also not suited for many SEO’s.

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