Google has announced an update in which Core Web Vitals will greatly influence ranking from May 2021. This, combined with its previous User Experience related signals, will determine the ranking of sites. It is still important that SEO involves its current technical aspects which have been tweaked throughout the history of SEO, such as backlinks and keyword placement, but once this update is rolled out, UX and Core Web Vitals will become a direct ranking factor.
Google has actually come out and stated that this new update will not cause drastic changes right from the start, but instead it will come out in a moderated fashion.
Google’s Danny Sullivan::
“So, maybe you don’t have the best page experience… But if you’re still the most relevant content, that is going to you know overall on various things we’re looking at.”
He then wrote; ‘I said it shouldn’t be the case that overnight, we flip some type of switch and there’s a massive change.’,
Even though the rollout in May might not be the big shift everyone was initially expecting, it is still valuable to understand what the new ranking factors entail and how to work on them.
So, what are Core Web vitals?
How quickly your page loads (Loading)
How soon people interact with your page (Interactivity)
How stable the page is at loading and interacting (Stability) Google uses ‘field data’ to measure this: which is real user metrics collected over a month or so and based on their experience. These core vitals are combined with other UX signals for search to determine the page experience ranking factor.
So, how else can you increase your page experience ranking factor?
Improve User Experience
The number one aspect of SEO that everyone should be utilising is improving the UX of their site. Google is getting wiser and now spotting all the techniques people use to cheat their SEO and raise their ranking. More than ever, Google is focusing on the experience of the user. So, whether you are an e-commerce site, or you are looking for local SEO, you want to ensure that your site satisfies the large majority of the users landing on it.
Look at your User Signals
We can use user signals to log and analyse how users are browsing your website. It is wise to look at these and make relevant changes according to this analysis. Here are the most useful ones to look into:
Bounce rate/ time on site
The bounce rate of a site is determined by the users who click onto your page and then quickly (within seconds) return to the SERP. In contrast, if users click on your site and then leave the main domain to visit a subpage, their time on site will increase. Google will recognise this and know that your site is interesting for users and rank it higher. The opposite goes for a high bounce rate. To reduce your bounce rate, make sure that your site is loading fast. Also, ensure the pages are clearly laid out, that it is obvious what your page is about, and what your service or product is. There should be clear signals/ buttons showing where your user can go and explore your site. Making it easy for them to browse through your site will lower your bounce rate, showing Google your site is interesting and useful.
Click through rate:
This is how often the user clicks on your site from the SERP (Search Engine results page). Having a high CTR means that Google will recognise your site is getting the users’ attention and answering their questions. And because Google wants to show the best results first, they will rank a site with a high CTR at the top.
So, look at the user signals and investigate the results. Look at what pages have the lowest CTR and make them more appealing. Maybe it is because of the meta description that may not be written well. Change this to be more relevant to the queries it is appearing for, or even a bit more click baity (but still maintaining relevance,a s low relevance will lead to high bounce rate) Once you have looked at where your users are exiting your site from, you can make those areas more user friendly and add aspects to reduce bounce rate. Here are some easy steps to make your page stand out:
Have you noticed that whenever you type a question into Google, you are met with a video as your answer? Google has been using more and more videos to explain their information to users even more efficiently. So, the obvious SEO improvement to this is creating videos on your site so that Google can provide them for their users. Make sure that your videos are uploaded via Youtube, which is a Google property and therefore their preferred choice.
More benefits of using videos include raising visit duration and lowering bounce rate. So, keep your users engaged and treat them with video entertainment.
Make sure that your intro is bold. The first 15 seconds of a video is what makes them keep watching. So, no long moving logos wasting their time, or lengthy beginning descriptions. Instead, go straight into the content.
Another way to create easily read, engaging content is through the use of infographics.
If you have an infographic with useful images, easy bullet points or short snippets of info, you ensure that your page is catering for those who want to get information quickly, without having to delve into a long read.
It also makes your content stand out. This increases user interest and makes them likely to explore your site.
This is becoming more and more important. Google made this an official ranking factor in 2015, and it’s only becoming more important. Mobile-first indexing was introduced in 2019. This means that they consider mobile optimisation before that on desktop. Google plans to prioritise mobile optimisation for all sites in March 2021.
What can you do about this? Make sure that the site runs smoothly on a mobile device. Do this by checking sites on various mobiles and tablets. Ensure that the site loads well, that the information is displayed clearly and that the key sections that you want to be displayed stand out from the rest of the information.
Make sure that your site aligns with the users’ intent.
Google knows whether their users are looking to shop or to learn. So, if you search ‘buy new IPhone’ you will be met with a display of e-commerce shops, but searching for ‘how to reset your IPhone’ will show information based pages. If you are selling a product, make sure that it is clear on your site and in your headings. On the other hand, if you are a blogging site, make sure that your titles show this. You can easily do this by using explicit titles e.g. those that start with ‘How to..’ or ‘Best…’. Google will pick this up when it ranks your site.
To cap things off, although Google has openly stated that the new core web vitals update won’t cause huge fluctuations early on. It is an update that should be monitored closely by any SEO agency or webmaster, as overtime we expect it to carry increasing importance. By working on the elements mentioned above, not only will your site see increased SEO performance but also improved conversion rates and monetary value. In our opinion it’s a no brainer to begin making core web vitals and UX signals a priority in 2021.
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